ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – When wide receiver Eddie Royal injured his groin during the second quarter of the Sept. 18 game against Cincinnati, he feared he might not see the field again for a long while. Instead, he was only absent for three and a half weeks.
“When I did it, it felt pretty bad and I didn’t really know,” Royal said Wednesday. “An injury like that, you can’t really tell how long it’s going to be. I’m just thankful it wasn’t the season and I’m able to get back out there.”
The fourth-year wide receiver practiced Wednesday for the first time since the injury. During his absence, the Broncos used quarterback Tim Tebow as a wide receiver (against the Bengals) and signed Quan Cosby to return punts until Royal returned.
Royal said he ran at “normal speed” during the practice.
“Everything went according to plan. We figured out how many routes I wanted to run today,” he added. “It was a good day for me.”
His work Wednesday gave him a chance to gauge his recovery — with the benefit of four days of rest to follow it. The Broncos will not practice again until Monday, since the league’s new bye-weekend rules mandate four consecutive off days for players.
“It’s perfect timing for me,” Royal said. “Right around the time that I wanted to get back, I got out there today and got to see how it felt. I get the rest of the week to heal up and get ready for Miami, so the bye couldn’t come at a better time for me.”
Royal won’t be completely free from the team; he will continue to receive post-injury treatment at team headquarters this weekend. That is the only permissible organized player activity at Dove Valley during the bye weekend. However, there are no rules against Tebow throwing Royal some passes to work on their timing.
“If he’s around here, I’ll do it,” Royal said. “(It’s) always a chance to get better.”
MOST OF THE TEAM WILL SCATTER for the next four days. That includes coaches; offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said he plans to spend the weekend on a short family vacation to San Diego, taking his children to Sea World and the San Diego Zoo. He’ll have fun, but won’t completely abandon football.
“I’ll drive my wife nuts for a couple of hours down there. I told her I’ve got to bring some work with me, but I’ll spend most of the time with the kids,” McCoy said.
Broncos coach John Fox doesn’t care what his players do or where they go, just as long as they’re back at work Monday and not making headlines in the interim.
“I always tell them, I don’t want to read about you unless you won the lottery,” Fox said. “But you hope and pray and wish them the best and hope they make good decisions.”
NOTES: Champ Bailey practiced Wednesday after sitting out Tuesday’s work. Brian Dawkins, Julius Thomas and Demaryius Thomas remained sidelined … Orlando Franklin missed a second consecutive day of practice; he was given the week off to join his family following the death of his younger brother.