Wesley Woodyard, Denver's leading tackler, is vowing to be back on the field Sunday for the Broncos' showdown at Baltimore.
"I'm playing," said Woodyard, who missed the Broncos' game Thursday night at Oakland because of a sprained left ankle. He was replaced by veteran D.J. Williams and rookie Danny Trevathan.
Had the game been on Sunday, Woodyard said he definitely would have played. Instead, he got a week to recuperate from the injury he sustained Dec. 2 against Tampa Bay.
Woodyard, who has collected 97 tackles in his first year as the starter at weakside linebacker, said he agreed with the coaches and medical staff who held him out last week as the Broncos (10-3) won their eighth straight game.
"I definitely would have given it a go on Sunday. But quick turnaround, it was just the smart thing to do to stay off it and get some rest," Woodyard said. "Definitely a great decision. I got healthy; my teammates got a chance to go out there and play and compete, and that's the thing — next man up, they stepped up and brought that victory home for us."
Woodyard said he was impressed with Trevathan, a sixth-round pick from his alma mater, Kentucky, who led the SEC in tackles each of the last two seasons.
"Man, he did some really nice things out there. He came up and was beastin'. I sent him about six text messages to him during the game; obviously, he couldn't check them, but after the game, he let me know that he received them," Woodyard said. "It was good just seeing him go out there, fly around and make plays. That's what he did in college."
Trevathan played 34 snaps against Oakland, plus 14 more on special teams, and Williams played 29 snaps. Williams had five tackles and Trevathan four.
Even with Woodyard back — he returned to practice Monday — both Williams and Trevathan figure to continue getting playing time at Baltimore.
The Broncos are preparing for a Ravens team that fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron on Monday despite a 9-4 record and replaced him with Jim Caldwell, who was the Indianapolis Colts head coach from 2009-11 and Peyton Manning's position coach from 2002-08.
Woodyard said he's sure Manning will have some pointers for Denver's defense this week.
"Absolutely. He'll give us some insight about what goes on. He's got a big job already to get the offense taken care of," Woodyard said. "But he's definitely the guy that always spreads wisdom on everything that he sees and knows."
Broncos defensive tackle Justin Bannan, who played for the Ravens from 2006-09, was taken aback by Cameron's firing.
"Yeah, that is surprising, this time of year with that kind of timing," Bannan said. "But I'm sure they had their reasons and at the end of the day, it's got nothing to do with us. We've got to focus on work and getting ready to play these guys."
Bannan said it would be a mistake to put too much stock into the switch of play-callers.
"Yeah, even if (Caldwell's) there, they could change a few things," Bannan said. "You just don't know, each week you're going to get different wrinkles from each team and you're going to see things that you don't prepare for and you've just got to try to adapt to it."
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