2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Broncos G Kuper ready for 1st playoff appearance

    2013-01-08 18:46

(Eds: Adds quotes, details. With AP Photos.)
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - Peyton Manning's pocket of protection is about to get an upgrade.

A finally healthy Chris Kuper is expected to return at right guard Saturday when the top-seeded Denver Broncos (13-3) host the Baltimore Ravens (11-6) in an AFC divisional playoff.

``It would be great,'' coach John Fox said after Tuesday's practice, the exact four words Peyton Manning would use 10 minutes later. ``He was voted on as a team captain by his teammates. He's a guy who's been in and out of the lineup all year. He's worked very hard to get back. It was good to see him out there today, and he had a fine day.''

Left tackle Ryan Clady also returned to practice, after missing all of last week's workouts with an undisclosed injury. Although he's dealt with a troublesome hamstring of late, Clady has never missed a game in his five-year NFL career.

Kuper, on the other hand, spent more time on the sideline than on the football field this season, and his absence was sorely felt, particularly - and, quite literally - by Manning.

Coming off four neck surgeries, Manning was sacked 21 times this season - but only twice with Kuper in the lineup.

Although Manny Ramirez admirably filled in, the O-line wasn't the same without Kuper.

The anchor of Denver's offensive line and a seventh-year pro out of North Dakota, Kuper made just five starts at right guard this season and played a half dozen snaps on special teams in two other games, including the season finale against Kansas City.

He missed the first four games after breaking his left forearm in training camp Aug. 14 and he missed five other games with a sprained left ankle, the same one he dislocated and broke in a gruesome scene a year ago.

For overcoming all these tribulations, his teammates Tuesday voted him their 2012 Ed Block Courage Award winner.

``Obviously, you don't want to be in that situation because that means you had to fight through some injuries or adversity, but to be recognized as a guy who will do that, I think that's just part of being a professional,'' Kuper said.

Manning lauded Kuper for his perseverance.

``What Kupe's been through from an injury standpoint, certainly physically, it's taken its toll,'' Manning said. ``That's a real challenge mentally, and I can just tell you that from my experience last year. He's had a positive attitude; he's worked hard; he and I have spent a lot of time in the training room together, so to see him back out there ... it's kind of like seeing Willis: it's a great lift to the team and it'd be great to have him in there on Saturday.''

Running back Willis McGahee returned to practice Tuesday for the first time since tearing a ligament in his right knee in mid-November and missing the last six games of the regular season. He's eligible to return to the active roster if the Broncos reach the AFC championship.

Kuper is gearing up for his first playoff game. He missed the Broncos' run last season after getting hurt in the season finale.

``I remember watching that game on TV last year and what he's done to come back from it is pretty spectacular,'' wide receiver Brandon Stokley said. ``So, it's well-deserved.''

And all the adversity this year, ``he's fought through it,'' Stokley said. ``He's a team guy and he's one of those guys that when he's on the field everybody looks to and kind of rallies around.''

Kuper was named a second alternate to the Pro Bowl after playing in just seven games this season, a measure of how much he's respected across the league.

``To get him back at a much-needed time is a blessing,'' Broncos pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil said. ``Glad he's able to go out and showcase what he can do.''

Kuper said the bye week did wonders for him, allowing him to knock off some rust.

``It helped me tons,'' he said. ``It's been a trying year for me, so getting that extra week to kind of work back into the offense, it helped me a lot. It felt good. I'm doing my best out there to get ready to go.''

Now, he's about to get his first taste of the playoffs.

``This is what I've been playing for since I got here,'' Kuper said.

Notes: McGahee didn't make himself available for comment Tuesday but RB Lance Ball said, ``I don't know when he'll be back or if he'll be back or not, but it was just good to go out there and see him out there practicing.''

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

---

Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Paul RichardsonMar 26 12:43a

Seattle Seahawks WR Paul Richardson (knee) might not be ready for the start of the season, head coach Pete Carroll indicated Wednesday, March 25. Carroll did say Richardson's rehab [ More ]

Blake BortlesMar 25 08:43p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles received an endorsement from head coach Gus Bradley Tuesday, March 24. Speaking at the AFC Coaches Breakfast at the NFL Annual Meetings Tuesday, Bradley [ More ]

Travis KelceMar 25 06:03p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce played at roughly 250 pounds in 2014, but head coach Andy Reid wants Kelce to report bigger in 2015, and Reid thinks Kelce [ More ]

Drew BreesMar 25 05:03p

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota isn't an option for the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, according to head coach Sean Payton. Payton said [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 25 04:33p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is wanted back in Minnesota, but the question is if Peterson wants to come back. Head coach Mike Zimmer said he doesn't believe Peterson [ More ]

Ifeanyi MomahMar 25 03:13p

Free-agent TE Ifeanyi Momah (Lions) signed a one-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals Wednesday, March 25. Financial terms were undisclosed.

Terence NewmanMar 25 01:53p

Free-agent CB Terence Newman (Bengals) agreed to a one-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings Wednesday, March 25, according to a source. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Jordy NelsonMar 25 12:23p

Green Bay Packers WR Jordy Nelson (hip) underwent hip surgery this offseason and is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks.

Victor CruzMar 25 11:53a

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) could miss the start of the 2015 season with a torn patellar tendon in his knee, according to head coach Tom Coughlin. [ More ]

Josh HillMar 25 11:03a

New Orleans Saints TE Josh Hill is expected to have a bigger role in the offense in 2015. Head coach Sean Payton has mentioned him quite a bit since [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 25 10:53a

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is disgruntled and reportedly wants out of Minnesota, but head coach Mike Zimmer said the team has no plans to trade him.

Cody LatimerMar 24 09:33p

The Denver Broncos plan to use WR Cody Latimer as the third receiver behind WRs Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in 2015. 'I think it's time for him to [ More ]

Casey MatthewsMar 24 06:32p

Free-agent LB Casey Matthews (Eagles) agreed to terms with the Minnesota Vikings Tuesday, March 24. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

R. Griffin IIIMar 24 04:42p

Washington Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan said that the team will go with the best player available in the 2015 NFL Draft with the No. 5 overall pick, which [ More ]

Michael CrabtreeMar 24 03:02p

Free-agent WR Michael Crabtree (49ers) is having a hard time being signed this offseason, reportedly due to concerns regarding lower-leg injuries and a negative perception about his attitude.

Ray McDonaldMar 24 02:02p

Free-agent DE Ray McDonald (49ers) is signing an undisclosed deal with the Chicago Bears Tuesday, March 24.

Stephen BowenMar 24 01:32p

Free-agent DE Stephen Bowen (Redskins) is signing an undisclosed deal with the New York Jets Tuesday, March 24.

Geno SmithMar 24 01:22p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith will be the starting quarterback ahead of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick entering training camp this summer, according to new head coach Todd Bowles. 'You [ More ]

Zach MettenbergerMar 24 01:12p

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota is a realistic option for the Tennessee Titans with the second overall selection in this year's NFL Draft, and head coach Ken Whisenhunt is impressed [ More ]

Jarvis JenkinsMar 24 10:42a

Free-agent DE Jarvis Jenkins (Redskins) agreed with the Chicago Bears Tuesday, March 24, on a one-year deal.

Johnny ManzielMar 24 08:52a

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel is expected back with the team for offseason workouts April 20 after completing more than two months of treatment.

Adrian PetersonMar 23 07:52p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's agent, Ben Dogra, said Monday, March 23, that he doesn't think 'it's in Adrian's best interest to play in Minnesota' in 2015 and beyond. [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 23 06:02p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is expected to be part of the Vikings next season, according to general manager Rick Spielman. 'Adrian's a member of our football team,' Spielman [ More ]

Drew BreesMar 23 01:22p

New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees will not be traded, according to general manager Mickey Loomis. Recent speculation said that Brees may be on the trade block after his [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 23 12:52p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's preference is to play elsewhere than with the Vikings in 2015, according to a league source. He is under contract through the 2017 season [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 22 08:32p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's future remains unclear, but head coach Mike Zimmer recently said that the Vikings are 'excited' to have him back. Zimmer had previously said that [ More ]

James HarrisonMar 22 12:42p

Free-agent LB James Harrison (Steelers) signed a two-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, March 22. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Branden OliverMar 21 03:52p

San Diego Chargers RB Branden Oliver is penciled in as the starting running back at this point.

EJ ManuelMar 21 12:52a

Buffalo Bills QB EJ Manuel is not locked in as the starting quarterback. Head coach Rex Ryan said Friday, March 20, that the quarterback competition will be open. 'It's [ More ]

Kevin VickersonMar 20 05:52p

Free-agent DT Kevin Vickerson (Chiefs) agreed to terms on an undisclosed deal with the New York Jets Friday, March 20.

Matt MooreMar 20 04:32p

Free-agent QB Matt Moore (Dolphins) re-signed with the Miami Dolphins Friday, March 20. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Adrian PetersonMar 20 02:42p

Updating an ongoing story, Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is clearly wanted back by the organization, and general manager Rick Spielman once again stressed that they will make every [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group