NFL Nation: Lonie Paxson

Denver long snapper Lonie Paxson missed his second straight day of practice because of what Denver coach John Fox described as a family matter.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family,” Fox told reporters in Denver. “He’ll be day to day just like all of our injuries.”

Guard Russ Hochstein would likely be the long snapper for Saturday night’s divisional playoff game at New England if Paxson can’t play, especially if the weather is bad.

Meanwhile, as expected, safety Brian Dawkins (neck) and receiver Eric Decker (knee) did not practice Thursday. It would be a surprise if either player plays Saturday night. Denver pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil was limited for the second straight day with an ankle injury.

In other AFC West news:

Kansas City coach Romeo Crennel said on Sirius radio with Rich Gannon that he will not relinquish his defensive play-calling duties. That has been expected.

Chris Sprow thinks the 49ers’ Justin Smith would be a good fit in San Diego. In an Insider piece, Scouts Inc. thinks Oklahoma pass-rusher Ronnel Lewis could fit with the Chargers. San Diego is sure to try to add a pass-rusher this offseason.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The Denver Broncos have released long snapper Mike Leach.

The team announced the move while officially announcing the signing of New England free agent long snapper Lonie Paxton. Paxton was one of eight unrestricted free agents have who agreed to terms Denver since free agency began Friday morning.

Leach's release, of course, is no surprise because of the presence of Paxton. But the Paxton signing was a bit of a surprise. Leach had a reputation as one of the better long snappers in the league. Leach was virtually perfect in his seven seasons in Denver.

Paxton and new Denver coach Josh McDaniels were together in New England. Leach will likely attract interest on the open market because of his success in Denver.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The Denver Broncos are busy reconstructing the team with a wild first day in free agency.

The team is in the final stages of signing safety Renaldo Hill from Miami and receiver Jabar Gaffney from New England. The contracts are not done yet, but there aren't expected to be any hang-ups in finalizing the deals.

The San Francisco Chronicle has reported that the team has agreed to terms with Philadelphia safety Brian Dawkins and that a press conference will be held Saturday. However, a source close to the situation said no press conference has been set. Dawkins could be headed to Denver but the deal is not done yet.

Still, it is clear that the Broncos are working hard at the beginning of the Josh McDaniels era. The team has already signed running backs Correll Buckhalter and J.J. Arrington and long-snapper Lonie Paxton. The team is also planning to visit with Cleveland linebacker Andra Davis who would fit in the team's new 3-4 system.

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