ENGLEWOOD – Russ Hochstein hasn’t been a full-time starter with the Denver Broncos this season, but he has stayed busy while waiting for his chance.
Hochstein will start at left guard this week against Washington, taking over for struggling Ben Hamilton.
Hochstein wouldn’t address the lineup switch, referring that question to coach Josh McDaniels, but said he has been happy to contribute this season. Hochstein lined up at tight end a few times against Pittsburgh, and has also been the lead blocker in Denver’s goal-line set most of the year.
“Overall, I’m just excited to get out and help my team,” Hochstein said. “Whatever capacity they use me, I’m happy with.”
Hamilton, who declined an interview request today, has not played very well this season. He has never come off the bench in his career, starting all 103 of the NFL games he has played in.
Hochstein is 15 pounds heavier than Hamilton, and could be better suited for this week’s matchup against Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, who has been a first-team NFL All-Pro selection each of the past two years.
“This guy is a great player,” Hochstein said.
The Broncos have struggled to run the ball the past two weeks, and perhaps Hochstein can help. McDaniels indicated he will continue to evaluate the position.
“We’re going to see how that goes and evaluate it ongoing,” Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said. “This isn’t an anointment of anybody, or anything tremendously negative about Ben Hamilton. We’re just going to see if this makes the situation any better.”
The Broncos will be aware of Haynesworth at all times, and his presence could be a factor in the team’s play-calling on Sunday.
“When you have players like Albert you’ve always got to know where he is and you have to do things to help yourself out and put yourself in the best position to be successful,” offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said. “We have a plan, like we do every week.”
Receiver Brandon Marshall returned to a full practice Thursday. He sat out Wednesday with a back injury, but he should be fine to play Sunday. Offensive tackle Ryan Harris (toe) and safety Josh Barrett (hamstring) each missed their second straight practice. Defensive end Ryan McBean (knee) continues to be a limited participant.