Notes: Paxton Still Out; Frigid Night Looms

Lonie Paxton

PAXTON: ... team's "thoughts and prayers are with him and his family," said John Fox. (PHOTO: ANDREW MASON / MAXDENVER.COM)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Safety Brian Dawkins and wide receiver Eric Decker missed a third consecutive day of practice Thursday with neck and MCL injuries, respectively. That was expected going into the week.

The absence of long snapper Lonie Paxton, however, was not, as he missed a second consecutive day for personal reasons.

“Right now it’s a family matter,” Broncos coach John Fox said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. He’ll be day to day just like all of our injuries.”

If Paxton cannot play, the Broncos will have to turn to another long snapper. There is no backup listed at the position on the team’s public depth chart. Chris Kuper was listed as the second-team long snapper in 2010, but he was lost to a fractured ankle on Jan. 1.

Utility offensive lineman Russ Hochstein, who replaced Kuper at right guard and is a backup at multiple offensive-line positions, was a backup long snapper in New England earlier in his career and could be asked to resume the role if necessary.

“Like any position on the team, we’re well-prepared,” Fox said.

CRANK UP THE CHILL: The temperatures expected for Saturday’s game continue to plummet, with the forecast now calling for temperatures falling through the teens during the game, with the potential for a single-digit temperature by the fourth quarter.

Cornerback Champ Bailey said the frigid forecast doesn’t favor the offense or defense.

“(It plays into) nobody’s hands,” he said. “I mean, it’s cold, but that’s part of the game. You let the elements be what they are and you just try to go out and play, try to stay warm as much as possible.”

Last week’s overtime win over the Steelers raised the Broncos’ record in games with sub-50-degree temperatures to 20-38 since 1999, including 4-13 since 2008. They are 1-2 in those conditions this season — but all of those were in the last three weeks.

When Denver played New England in Week 15, the temperature was a balmy 63 degrees.

Denver is 3-8 all-time when the kickoff temperature is below 20 degrees, but has an eight-game losing streak in sub-20-degree conditions that dates back to a 35-24 loss at Chicago on Dec. 20, 1981. That season-ending loss at Soldier Field cost the Broncos a wild-card berth.

So when was the Broncos’ last win below 20 degrees?

It was the famous 1977 AFC Championship Game, played on New Year’s Day 1978, when Denver dealt Oakland a 20-17 defeat on a sun-soaked, 18-degree afternoon.

INTERVIEW SUBJECT: The St. Louis Rams confirmed via their Twitter feed that Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen interviewed with them Thursday about their vacant head-coaching position.

“I’m extremely flattered about it,” Allen said Wednesday, a day before the interview. “It’s obviously exciting, but really, at the end of the day, in my mind it’s more of a tribute to those players that are in that locker room. It’s a tribute to the assistant coaches that I work with every day.

“When you have success as a team, individual achievements come.”

Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy had the opportunity to interview for the head-coaching vacancy with the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first week of the playoffs, but opted to delay the conversation until after the Broncos were eliminated. That became moot when the Jaguars hired former Buffalo Bills head coach Mike Mularkey this week.

““I’d love to be a head coach sometime, but I’m very happy with where I’m at,” McCoy said. “I work for a great organization with great people. I love coaching the guys that we coach here.”

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About Andrew Mason

Andrew Mason has covered the NFL since 1999, when he worked as an editor on NFL.com when the site was managed by ESPN.com. He worked six seasons (2002-07) covering the Broncos on their official website and two (2008-09) on the Panthers' site. He began MaxDenver.com in 2010 and now contributes to CBSSports.com, The Sporting News and The New York Times.

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