ENGLEWOOD – Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said he is hopeful quarterbacks Kyle Orton (finger) and Chris Simms (ankle) will be available next week, when the Broncos start the regular season, but didn't have a definite answer on either player.
Rookie Tom Brandstater will start Thursday's preseason game and McDaniels said Ingle Martin could play if needed. After that, McDaniels didn't want to put a specific timetable on Orton's return, saying he didn't know if he would play Sept. 13 at Cincinnati.
"The timetable for that - I would be totally guessing and probably wrong if I started guessing about that stuff right now," McDaniels said.
McDaniels sounded a bit more confident about Simms returning next week.
"Hopefully he'll be ready to go next week," McDaniels said. "He's busting his butt to get out here as soon as he can."
The Broncos are getting a bit healthier at running back. Rookie first-round pick Knowshon Moreno was back Tuesday, wearing an orange "noncontact" jersey. LaMont Jordan, who was out last week, also returned.
McDaniels said Moreno didn't take a majority of the reps in practice, but took some and looked fine.
"We're going to work him back the way we should, not 100 percent of the reps the first day," McDaniels said.
Although the Broncos probably won't risk using Moreno on Thursday if they're not certain he is ready to play, McDaniels didn't rule him out of the preseason finale.
"We'll see how he feels tomorrow and make a smart decision on Thursday," McDaniels said.