ENGLEWOOD, Colorado — Here's a bit of good news for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, who are dealing with a reshuffled offensive line and rash of injuries at receiver:
DeMarcus Ware's lower back injury will keep him out of Sunday night's showdown with the Denver Broncos.
Ware hasn't played since aggravating the injury against the Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 8 shortly after jumping into the top 10 on the all-time sacks list at 133 1-2.
"I think the right time is when you're comfortable enough to get out there and do what you do best, and that's rush the passer and make plays," Ware said Friday. "And I'm not at that point yet."
Ware said he hopes to return next week at San Diego.
He was officially ruled out along with Peyton Manning (foot), who will be sidelined at least until mid-December. Brock Osweiler will make his second straight start in Manning's place.
Manning was placed in a walking cast after seeing a foot specialist in North Carolina on Monday. He attended practices and meetings this week and was in good spirits in the locker room Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Coach Gary Kubiak said it hasn't been determined whether Manning will be on the sideline or in the coaches' boxes upstairs during the game.
Manning could certainly be an asset for Osweiler if he's on the field. Then again, Manning might not want TV cameras showing his every reaction during the game when the Broncos try to hand New England its first loss since Dec. 28.
"We'll (decide) that tomorrow morning. We'll see," Kubiak said. "But he's been much involved, very engaged with the game plan, came out to practice at the end of our practices throughout the course of the week. Just out there today. So, I'll sit down and visit with him, wherever he's most comfortable. He's done his part. He's really helped him out this week."
Left guard Evan Mathis is questionable; Kubiak said Mathis will test his puffy ankle in warmups. If he can't go, rookie Max Garcia will make his first NFL start in his place.
Kubiak said he would have no hesitation starting Garcia, a fourth-round pick from Florida who has seen action at both guard spots and on special teams, and has played in all 10 games so far.
"I've got a lot of confidence in him," Kubiak said. "Kind of a lot like Brock in a lot of ways. He's been working really hard. I know he's a first-year player, but if you go back remember there was a time when Max was a starter for us near the end of camp, and then we got Evan, and now Max has played a lot of football at various places. And so I think there's some experience there.
"This will be a tough assignment to draw with his first start, but he's been working really hard to do it and he's had a good week of practice."
Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (ankle/finger) is probable after missing last week's game at Chicago. Sanders looked good during the media's viewing period at Friday's practice, catching a deep pass in stride and running a sharp dig route.
He said he's ready for the big game, which he called "definitely a five-star matchup."
"They're hot, 10-0. We're 8-2," said Sanders, who's looking forward to Osweiler's second start.
"The chemistry is good. Peyton hasn't been going on Wednesdays, so I've had an opportunity to go with Brock and it definitely has paid off," Sanders said. "Today we connected on a couple of deep balls. We're working. I was texting him last night on what I'm seeing, what he's seeing. So, it's going to pay off."
Asked what he likes about Osweiler, Sanders said, "First of all, how he address the huddle. I mean, he comes in with a swagger. He comes in with a confidence. He's poised in the game. He works his butt off. He wants to be the quarterback. And he's not tentative. He's not scared to mess up. He's not scared to make big plays. He's not scared to throw it down the field. So, that's everything that you want in a quarterback."
Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton