Following a season during which he faced the unenviable task of blocking for a player who used the entire 160-foot width of the field as his pocket, Ryan Clady received the ultimate gift in the form of Peyton Manning last March.
By choosing not to accept the reported $28M in guarantees offered him by Denver over the summer, he set himself up for an even bigger prize.
At the least, Clady figures to receive the Broncos' franchise tag, which will provide him with $9.66M in guaranteed salary, which is more than a $6M bump up from his 2012 salary of $3.5M.
Broncos starting right guard Chris Kuper again missed practice Friday and is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game against Cleveland; it would be the third consecutive game he's missed due to injury, and the ninth in total.
According to John Fox, Kuper continues to be hindered by scar tissue in his surgically-repaired ankle, and is also dealing with migraine problems. Manny Ramirez will again start in his place; Peyton Manning has taken just two sacks with Kuper in the lineup, but 19 with Ramirez starting.
The Broncos have added tackle Paul Cornick to their practice squad; he replaces Darrion Weems, who had been signed to Dallas's active roster five days ago.
Cornick had signed with the LOLJets as an undrafted free agent out of North Dakota State, where he was named an All-American following his senior season.
As expected, the Broncos announced the signing today of running back Jacob Hester, formerly of the Chargers. They also brought Jeremiah Johnson back to the practice squad, as had been reported over the weekend.
Hester (5-11, 235) is a fifth-year player out of LSU who was taken by San Diego with the 69th-overall pick in the 2008 Draft. He started 23 of the 62 games he played for the Chargers, accumulating 319 yards and one touchdown on 94 rushes, plus 308 receiving yards and three touchdowns on 55 catches.
Jay Glazer is reporting that the Broncos will place running back Willis McGahee on season-ending IR today.
Although there had been reports that the 31-year-old would be able to recover from his torn MCL and leg fracture in time for the playoffs, the team has obviously given up on that possibility.
Mike Klis reports that the move has not yet been finalized, and that Denver may designate McGahee as eligible to return. Adam Schefter is reporting that the decision has been made, and that the back could be back in time for the AFC Championship game, should Denver make it that far. Lindsay Jones has gotten confirmation of that from Denver PR man Patrick Smythe.
For the most part, the Broncos have managed to avoid catastrophic injury so far this season.
So much for that.
An MRI today revealed that Willis McGahee tore the MCL in his right knee yesterday, and he is expected to miss 6-8 weeks as a result.
Updated 4:00pm ET
Filling Ihenacho's spot on the taxi unit will be former Cowboys CB Mario Butler, who has been active for one game since signing with Dallas as an undrafted rookie last year.
Elsewhere in the AFCW, QB Brady Quinn has been ruled out for Thursday night's Chiefs/Chargers game after suffering a concussion against Oakland.
The return from suspension of D.J. Williams after the Broncos' Week 10 game at Carolina has created questions about how the team will handle its LB corps going forward.
Unfortunately, a fractured fibula suffered by Joe Mays will go a long way to forcing Denver's hand there. Mays is done for the year after he was injured during a Broncos punt return last night, and is expected to be placed on IR tomorrow.
Mays had lost his starting Mike job to Keith Brooking, and had been relegated to special teams duty for the past two weeks. 2011 sixth-rounder Mike Mohamed is on the practice squad as a likely replacement for Mays, if a temporary one until Williams is reinstated.
The former Saint had suffered a seizure in August, and was held back from traveling to San Diego for Denver's last game due to a recurrence of symptoms that had preceded the earlier seizure.
Nine Broncos are on the final injury report for Week 6, and all are listed as probable, after all 53 players on the active roster were full participants in Saturday's practice. Ryan Clady was back in action after missing Friday's work due to a minor hamstring injury.
The outlook for the Chargers is not looking as good, as kicker Nate Kaeding is out, starting left tackle Jared Gaither and nickel corner Shareece Wright are doubtful, and wideouts Eddie Royal and Malcom Floyd are both listed as questionable. RB Ryan Mathews and RT Jeromey Clary are probable.