- Jeff Legwold, ESPN Staff Writer
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"Six screws, five pins, nine stitches, the basics," Webster said after Thursday's practice. "Just the basics."
And now one cast.
Webster missed Sunday's win over the Houston Texans following surgery to repair his right thumb, fractured in two places in the Dec. 12 loss to the San Diego Chargers. Webster said he believes he originally injured the thumb on punt coverage in the second quarter, but after he experienced some swelling in the thumb he showed the Broncos trainers after tackling Chargers running back Ryan Mathews early in the third quarter.
So, Webster, who was repeatedly targeted by Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers in the game, essentially played almost three quarters of the game with the injury and was sent for surgery the following day.
"Tough kid," said Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. " … I think he played right through that thing and didn't realize he was actually injured and they had to fix out … A good, young tough player, he's got a bright future and he'll be a good player."
"He listens,'' said Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey. "I like how he listens. He also keeps coming back and that's big for a young guy out there. You have to bounce back, you have to play with that confidence like you belong. They obviously saw something in you when they brought you in. He does that, he plays like that and he's done well."
The Broncos held Webster out of practice last week, but he has now practiced over the last two days with a cast on the repaired hand. He said Thursday is his expectation is to play Sunday in the regular-season finale in Oakland and that "I can do whatever they need me to do. That's how I'm approaching it.''
With Bailey now back in the lineup playing as the nickel cornerback with Chris Harris Jr. and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the two outside spots, Webster would figure to be in the rotation on defense if the Broncos went to their dime package (six defensive backs) as well as his usual special teams duties.
And while he may have been one of the more unheralded picks of the team's draft weekend this past April, Webster leads the Broncos' first-year class in both playing time and production this season.
In all he has played 478 snaps on defense this season (44.8 percent of the plays), many of those coming when Bailey was sidelined with a left foot injury. That number puts him well ahead of fellow rookies Montee Ball (281 snap) and Sylvester Williams (254 snaps).
Webster said now it's a matter of getting used to having one hand encased as he plays. Webster would have to wear a cast all the way through the Broncos' postseason as well.
"I caught a few [passes] the first day I was out there on the field on [Wednesday]," Webster said. "It was kind of difficult ... I kind of just use my left hand more than my right hand right now."
Asked if it would be a pain issue during the game, Webster said, "It's not really painful right now, it's just different. I've never had a cast before. It just different going through that process."