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Eddie Royal injures groin vs. Bengals

DENVER -- Broncos receiver Eddie Royal was helped off the field after hurting his groin on a pass play Sunday against Cincinnati.

Royal was running down the field on a deep route when he pulled up and fell to the turf right in front of Cincinnati's bench. Royal had to be helped back across the field by Broncos trainers and never returned to Denver's eventual 24-22 victory.

The banged-up Broncos already were without Pro Bowler Brandon Lloyd, who didn't suit up against the Bengals because of a groin injury. That left the team with only three healthy receivers before Royal's injury.

Denver also lost tight end Julius Thomas to an ankle injury Sunday.

So thin were the Broncos at wideout that backup quarterback Tim Tebow lined up as a wide receiver for several plays.

"I'm going to do whatever I can to help the team," said Tebow, who was never targeted in the passing game but did his best to block. "If they ask me to go out there and run some routes and block some people, I'll go do it."

Quarterback Kyle Orton said he wouldn't have hesitated throwing it Tebow's way. It just didn't come to that.

"Oh, he's an athlete," Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker agreed. "He can catch some passes."

However, Tebow's appearance at wideout was not just an on-the-fly thought.

Team sources told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen that Tebow's "debut" at receiver came during practice before the Broncos' game against the Oakland Raiders in Week 1, which Tebow did not end up playing in. Rather than stand around during practice, he asked coaches for permission to play wide receiver on the scout team.

Then, the sources said, Denver coaches gave the former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback a heads-up during this past week that he could be called on when it became apparent to the Broncos' staff they would be short on wideouts due to injuries.

Once Royal was hurt, Tebow played wideout in selective spots Sunday and even donned receiving gloves on both hands.

Information from ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen and The Associated Press contributed to this report.