It remains to be seen if the player nicknamed Mr. Unlimited will actually be that as the Broncos’ preparation for a Monday night game against the Los Angeles Chargers ramps up.
Despite the mystery, the practice week started normally enough for quarterback Russell Wilson.
Four days ago Wilson received a platelet-rich plasma injection near his right shoulder in Los Angeles. On Tuesday, he ran around under the sun and threw passes during the portion of practice open to the media.
Denver’s first injury report of the week isn’t due until Thursday and Wilson may well be, by definition, limited due to the lat muscle injury, but head coach Nathaniel Hackett said he doesn’t think his quarterback’s status for Monday is in doubt.
“He should be ready to play,” Hackett said.
The question regarding Wilson at this point appears to be less about availability and more about what impact the injury is going to have on him going forward.
Hackett wouldn’t say exactly how long the team expects Wilson to be playing in pain or through injury, but 11 days between games will help the quarterback. Denver’s got games the next three weeks — at the Chargers, home against the Jets and against Jacksonville in London — before its true bye week.
“I’ve learned in this game that everybody always has something that’s going on,” Hackett said. “It’s a very, very physical game as we see week in and week out. Russell is a very tough human being. He’s not going to miss anything. He wants to be out there competing for this team.
“So we’ll just make sure we take care of him, do the right thing and get him to as close to 100% as we can.”
Left guard Dalton Risner said he didn’t notice Wilson’s shoulder impacting his play during Denver’s Thursday night loss to the Colts when Wilson threw a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions and had perhaps his worst outing of the season.
“Russell is a warrior,” Risner said Tuesday. “For me as an offensive lineman, I love blocking for that guy. I love going to war for him and I’ll continue going to war for him each and every day, each and every game. It’s no question. … The cool thing about Russell is (the injury) isn’t something that he let everybody know. It wasn’t something he was complaining about throughout the week.
“He wanted to help us get a win.”
Denver lost to the Colts, 12-9, in overtime, didn’t score a touchdown and finds its offense too often stuck in neutral through the first five games. The Broncos are 31st in scoring offense at 15 points per game, ahead of only Indianapolis. So, in addition to Wilson continuing treatment on his shoulder and trying to make progress health-wise, the 11 days between the Colts and Chargers games represent a chance for the Broncos to try to identify what works and what doesn’t offensively.
“Everything’s just growing pains right now,” Hackett said of taking time over the past few days to self-scout the season’s lackluster start. “It’s us just getting familiar with each other and understanding what we want to get to when we need to. … It wasn’t just for these five games, but revisiting what we did in OTAs and training camp, stuff that we really liked and maybe got away from for certain reasons, whether a defense took it away. Sometimes you just have to do the things that you’re good at.”
Through five games, the Broncos have found ways to generate big plays in the passing game but haven’t consistently executed in the red zone or on third down. Wilson, who came to Denver with a career 64.8% completion percentage and a 3.4-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio, is completing 59.7% of his passes and has four touchdowns against three interceptions. Improved play from him certainly isn’t the only ingredient to a turnaround for Denver offensively, but it is a key part of the equation.
“Russell’s a competitor. I know he wants to do everything in his power to get this offense, this team to where we all want to be,” Hackett said. “We’re 2-3, we are who we are. We need to get better and he knows that and he’s going to do everything in his power to get us there.”