Starting LB Williams among those back at practice for Broncos

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- For once, the banged-up Denver Broncos had players returning to the field instead of hobbling off.

These days, that has been a rare sight.

A rash of injuries has ravaged the Broncos in training camp, most prominently Pro Bowl linebacker Elvis Dumervil's torn chest muscle that required surgery Tuesday and could sideline him for the season.

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But linebacker D.J. Williams was back at practice Tuesday after missing the majority of camp for an undisclosed reason. He was wearing an orange no-contact jersey and had his role limited.

Fullback Spencer Larsen also took the field, as did defensive lineman Chris Baker and offensive lineman Dustin Fry.

Yet even on a day when the Broncos had players return, they still were missing a few.

Rookie wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker didn't participate. Thomas, a first-round pick out of Georgia Tech, apparently injured his left foot -- the same one he broke in predraft workouts -- at Invesco Field on Saturday night.

Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said X-rays on Thomas' foot were negative, but there wasn't a timetable for the receiver's return.

"I know he's eager," McDaniels said. "Hopeful that he'll be out there soon. But we'll see how long that is."

Decker, who was selected in the third round, suffered an injury to his left leg at the Saturday workout. His status also is unknown.

This camp certainly hasn't been kind to the team as the training room has been almost as full of Broncos as the playing field.

So far, more than a dozen players have missed time for medical reasons and another two players -- receiver Kenny McKinley and safety Josh Barrett -- experienced season-ending injuries.

Dumervil's official status remains up in the air after his surgery, with McDaniels simply saying, "We'll see how that goes."

The team has been hit particularly hard at tailback, where Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) and Correll Buckhalter (back) went down minutes apart halfway through the opening practice of training camp. Then, two days after being signed, Denver native LenDale White went out with an ankle ailment.

"There's nothing we can control with that," McDaniels said of the mounting bumps and bruises. "So we're going to try to focus on improving with the group that's out there."

Left tackle D'Anthony Batiste is making the most of his chance. With All-Pro Ryan Clady on the shelf after having offseason surgery on his knee, Batiste is running with the first team.

The 6-foot-4, 317-pound Batiste filled in last season for tackle Chris Samuels in Washington, before being waived in mid-December and winding up on Denver's practice squad.

"He's a physical guy. Once he hits you and gets his hands on you, you don't really move him that far because he's one of our stronger players up front," McDaniels said. "The guys feel comfortable with him."

McDaniels wasn't sure when Clady might return. He won't be rushed back to service, though, after tearing his left patellar tendon while playing hoops.

"I don't want to put any unnecessary pressure on him to be ready before he really is ready," McDaniels explained. "I know he is working as hard as he possibly can to be ready for (the season opener), so we'll see how it goes."

Although the injuries have piled up for the Broncos, McDaniels doesn't believe his heavy emphasis on contact in training camp is the culprit. In fact, McDaniels said the hitting is closely monitored, with players frequently rotating in and out.

"Obviously, if it becomes detrimental to us and we feel like it's hindering our progress, then we'll have to do something," McDaniels said.

Like giving his players a break. McDaniels did just that after a spirited practice Saturday, awarding the team a two-day hall pass.

"We are not going to feel sorry for ourselves because there's no real reason to feel sorry for ourselves," McDaniels said. "We've just got to push them through and get ready to go."

Notes:Broncos rookie QB Tim Tebow shaved off what was left of the horrible haircut that was given to him by LB Wesley Woodyard as a prank. ... WR Brandon Stokley had the catch of the afternoon Tuesday, hauling in a 30-yard TD strike from Kyle Orton.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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