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Broncos could be minus 6 key players

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- It's only the second week of the season and already the Denver Broncos have come up with their motto.

"Next man up."

The bruised and battered Broncos practiced Wednesday without a half-dozen key players. Pro Bowlers Champ Bailey (hamstring) and Brandon Lloyd (groin) were out along with fellow starters Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) and Elvis Dumervil (shoulder).

All of them were hurt Monday night against Oakland and all might join D.J. Williams (elbow) and Marcus Thomas (chest) on the sideline Sunday when the Broncos (0-1) host the Cincinnati Bengals (1-0).

"There are no excuses, no explanations; just find solutions," coach John Fox said. "Our solution is next man up."

Including wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (Achilles) and run-stuffer Ty Warren (triceps), both of whom are out for a while, the eight players who missed Wednesday's workout have a collective 55 years of NFL experience.

Bailey, Williams, Dumervil and Marcus Thomas represent four of the five players on the roster who have been with the Broncos the longest. The other is Chris Kuper, who had a toe injury in the preseason but is healthy again.

"You can't replace Pro Bowlers and Hall of Famers. They're not a dime a dozen," said second-year cornerback Cassius Vaughn, who would replace Bailey. "But it's a team effort. We've got to be the best team, not the best individuals."

If Bailey is out, newcomer Jonathan Wilhite moves into Vaughn's nickel back spot.

If Moreno can't play, Willis McGahee and Lance Ball move up the depth chart.

"I learned a long time ago that in this business no one comes and rescues you, so we'll prepare just as hard as we have in the past and hopefully a little bit better and see how it goes against Cincinnati," Fox said.

The Broncos began the season with a patchwork defense because of injuries in the preseason. Against the Raiders, Wesley Woodyard was in for Williams (dislocated elbow) at middle linebacker, Brodrick Bunkley replaced Marcus Thomas at nose tackle and Kevin Vickerson is the long-term sub for Warren at defensive tackle.

Dumervil was deemed ready to play before the opener only to sprint off the field in the opening minutes and fling his helmet in frustration after aggravating his injured shoulder.

After that, he only played on obvious passing downs with Jason Hunter replacing him on first and second downs.

Dumervil might not even suit up Sunday.

"As far as medically, I don't like taking guys into a game that I have a pretty good idea that they're ailing just because once you turn in that inactive list, you can't go back," Fox said. "Keeping guys fresh is all part of the wave of defensive linemen you play and that was a factor Monday night, in particular that it was our first 60-minute game for the starters. We'll kind of play that by ear and take it day to day."

That's how Fox likes to describe the prognosis for any of his injured players.

He didn't give specific updates on any of his sidelined players Wednesday, saying only that the four who were hurt Monday night are all day to day.

"I don't want to rush anybody out there," Fox said. "When they clear medically, they'll practice."

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis might be counting the number of Broncos on the injury report but he's not counting his blessings. He said if Dumervil can't go, Von Miller is still a worrisome pass-rusher and if Bailey is out, safety Brian Dawkins still concerns him.

Quarterback Kyle Orton wasn't on the Broncos' lengthy injury report despite getting walloped by the Raiders, who sacked him five times and knocked him down on plenty of other occasions.

"Yes, it was a physical game like it is every year," Orton said. "Guys that are No. 2 on the depth chart have to step up and come in and play well for us. We've got good guys as backups that can come in and help us out, and hopefully those guys that got banged up can get back as quick as possible."

Orton played poorly in the opener, completing 24 of his 46 passes, throwing an interception and dropping the ball without getting hit for another turnover in the fourth quarter with his tight end open in the end zone for the go-ahead score.

Afterward, a loud contingent of fans chanted "Tebow! Tebow!" for the Broncos' third-string quarterback who had a terrible training camp.

Orton grew testy when a reporter asked him Wednesday if he felt any added pressure with the fans booing him and calling for Tim Tebow to replace him.

"No, not at all. I'm not going to sit here and waste my time answering questions about it, to be honest with you," Orton said. "Until Coach Fox comes to me, he's the only one that I'm going to listen to. So, I'd rather you guys not waste my time with the questions because I'm not going to answer them."

Asked if the criticism of Orton was fair, Fox said, "Life's not fair, but at the end of the day, he'll bounce back. I have all the confidence in the world in him. He did a lot of good things Monday night as well, so we've got some things we need to correct and we'll do that."

Orton said the contingent of fans voicing their disapproval don't bother him.

"I just look at it like I don't care," Orton said. "(Fox's) opinion and my teammates' opinions will always be the ones that matter."

And Fox is solidly in his corner.

"Right now we feel like Kyle Orton gives us our best chance," Fox said. "Even the staff before us felt that way. ... Right now, he's our starting quarterback. There's no question about that. Like our whole team, we've got some room for improvement this week."