The Denver Broncos are banged up in both their offensive and defensive backfields as they prepare to face the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
Running back Correll Buckhalter (ankle) hasn't practiced all week. Knowshon Moreno's ankle injury isn't as severe and he's expected to split snaps with either LaMont Jordan, who's battled a bad back this month, or Peyton Hillis, who has just a dozen carries this season.
In the secondary, safety Renaldo Hill (ankle) missed his second straight practice Thursday. If he can't play Sunday, the Broncos will turn to rookie David Bruton _ although he's fighting through a quadriceps injury _ with Josh Barrett and Vernon Fox also in the mix.
"You want to seize the moment and that's exactly what I want to do with this chance," Bruton said.
Fox was re-signed this week after rookie Darcel McBath, the team's top reserve safety, went on IR with a broken arm.
That opens the door for Bruton, who had an impressive training camp, something that still sticks with cornerback Champ Bailey.
"I think the good thing is we have a good group of young guys. You know, Bruton, he was great when he was in there in the preseason and he's been great on special teams for us and this is his opportunity going in to make plays for us and step up when we need him," Bailey said Thursday. "I have all the confidence in the world in him. He's smart and he knows what he's doing. I just hope we don't miss a beat."
Bruton said he's learned so much watching Hill and safety Brian Dawkins.
"That's the fortunate position that he's in," Bailey said. "He had two good safeties in front of him to assist him all year. He's learned a lot from them and I know he's going to apply that to the game."
Coach Josh McDaniels called that tutoring invaluable.
"I would think he's had an opportunity to see things happen, see mistakes that some other players have made, see some really good games that our safeties have played and he's had so many game weeks now to learn from Brian and Renaldo," McDaniels said. "And I would put Darcel in that same category. Two young kids in their first year in the league. I couldn't imagine two better mentors to learn from.
"Is he more ready to go now than he would have been in September? Probably. I think ultimately what happens on the field is really the thing that is going to determine that. So he's got to take the information that he's learned and all of those things that he's gotten over the last three months and apply them and that's the big thing."
Bruton said he has several notebooks filled with advice he's received from Dawkins.
"I feel like I've been blessed to play this game for a long time and there's a lot of wisdom that I've received. So, I feel it's my duty to pass it on to young guys," Dawkins said. "Whatever I see, he sits right next to me so I'm always whispering different things to allow him to see what I'm seeing on the field and why I do certain things.
"Hopefully, it will allow him to be able to step into this position and be able to be right where he needs to be."
NOTES: NFL sacks leader Elvis Dumervil returned to practice Thursday after missing Wednesday's workouts with a toe injury. ... CB Ty Law has missed practice all week with a strained hamstring and FB Spencer Larsen is playing through a bad back.