ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – After being gashed for 802 yards, 6.3 yards per play and 61 points the past two weeks, one could understand why the sight of safety Brian Dawkins on the sideline at practice would make Broncos followers a tad nervous.
Dawkins missed a second consecutive day of practice with a neck injury that has bothered him since the second half of the Week 14 win over Chicago and sidelined him for all but one quarter of the Broncos’ last two games — both losses — to the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills, games that were in part defined by miscommunication and poor tackling.
“We definitely miss him and I’m not going to shy away from saying it,” said cornerback Champ Bailey. “I know this is a next man up business, but with his intensity and leadership, there’s not a guy on the roster who can replace a guy like that.”
But when two safeties other Dawkins join him on the sideline, the problem is exacerbated. Quinton Carter sat out the second half last week, leaving the Broncos with a tandem of Rahim Moore and David Bruton, the latter of whom has been dealing with an Achilles tendon injury the last few weeks.
“They’re stepping in and trying to fill those roles to the best of their abilities,” said defensive coordinator Dennis Allen. “We’ve got to try and help them as best as we can.”
“We need guys to step up and play well,” Bailey said. “You’re not going to be Brian Dawkins, but you’ve got to play effectively and do your job.”
For now, Dawkins is “day to day,” as Broncos coach John Fox said after practice.
INJURY REPORT: Bruton and cornerback Chris Harris were limited for a second consecutive day with Achilles tendon and neck injuries, respectively … Carter and linebacker Von Miller were both listed on the injury report with hip and thumb injuries, respectively, but both practiced fully … In Kansas City, running back Jackie Battle (foot), wide receiver Jeremy Horne (illness) and safety John McGraw (ankle) did not practice Thursday. The Chiefs listed no one else on their injury report.