ENGLEWOOD • Denver Broncos safety Brian Dawkins returned to practice with a large club cast covering his broken right hand.

He said he didn’t know how long he would play with the cast.

“Hopefully we’ll know here in a little while and as the weeks go on, they’ll tell me exactly what I need to do and I’ll follow those directions,” said Dawkins, who had been out since Aug. 3.

The cast will likely hinder Dawkins. During Sunday’s practice, quarterback Kyle Orton underthrew a deep pass that Dawkins normally would have intercepted. He tried to cradle the ball in with his injured hand and dropped it.

Buckhalter hurt, back signed
Running back Correll Buckhalter, who started Friday’s preseason opener, did not practice Sunday. When asked about Buckhalter’s absence, coach Josh McDaniels gave his common refrain for injured players, saying Buckhalter will return when he is ready. He did not say what Buckhalter’s injury was.

With Buckhalter and rookie Knowshon Moreno (knee) out, the Broncos signed rookie running back Marcus Thigpen, who went to Indiana and was undrafted.

McDaniels wasn’t concerned about Moreno missing too much time before the season opener. He held out the first week of camp in a contract dispute and could miss another one or two weeks.

“He’ll have plenty of time to get caught up to speed,” McDaniels said. “Mentally he’s on top of things and he’ll continue to be on top of things mentally. And we’ll have to push him late to get him going. I’m not concerned about it right now.”