With the loss of the Broncos' starting left tackle comes the return of two other starters from 2012.
Cornerback Champ Bailey and tight end Joel Dreessen both participated in practice Thursday, according to multiple reports. It marks each player's first practice with the Broncos in the 2013 regular season. Bailey has been out since the sprained foot he suffered in the preseason; Dreessen has been out since he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in training camp.
Both players were limited in practice Thursday, according to the team's social media outlets.
Although both players returned to practice, the Broncos have the luxury of bringing them along slowly before they see game time. Denver's depth at cornerback and tight end has each done exceptionally well in their 2012 starters' absence. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Chris Harris Jr., and Tony Carter each have interceptions this season (Harris is tied for the league high with two picks), while Julius Thomas has been a productive playmaker for the Broncos.
What it means
The case with Dreessen and Thomas is particularly interesting, as Thomas started most of the offseason in Dreessen's place. He's risen to the occasion, hauling in three touchdowns in two weeks. Dreessen had five touchdowns all of last season. I don't expect Dreessen would start in place of Thomas upon his return.
The Broncos will be glad to get Champ Bailey back, as it will move Chris Harris back in to the slot corner position, where he shines. Champ will start alongside Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, forming one of the league's best and deepest cornerback corps.
The Broncos and Raiders will provide a full injury report, detailing each player's level of participation (full or limited), this afternoon. We will pass that along to you then.