ENGLEWOOD – After Kyle Orton missed his third straight practice, it seems likely the Denver Broncos will have to rally around Chris Simms on Sunday. They’re ready to do so.

Simms is in line to start at quarterback in a huge game against San Diego, although Orton hasn’t been ruled out. Orton’s injured left ankle has kept him from practicing all week. Most players who miss an entire week of practice don’t play, but Broncos coach Josh McDaniels would not rule out Orton. He said Orton will work out before the game Sunday and “absolutely” has a chance to start.

Denver is ready if Simms starts. Simms threw for only 13 yards in the second half against Washington, but McDaniels said he has had a good week of practice.

“We have a lot of confidence,” tight end Daniel Graham said. “We saw him in preseason do good, we had good practice this week, so if he is the starter Sunday we’ll be confident and ready to go.”

Graham said there isn’t much difference between the Simms and Orton. He said both are good leaders, command respect in the huddle and can run the offense.

Simms said he is excited about the possibility of starting Sunday, considering his last start was 2006 and ended with him going to the hospital to treat a ruptured spleen. He said he senses and appreciates the confidence being shown from coaches and teammates.

“I know I haven’t had a great deal of playing time here the last few years, but I think the guys saw what I did during training camp, and the snaps I got in the preseason,” Simms said. “Hopefully they’re as confident in me as I am in myself.”

The Broncos got some good news at running back Friday, when Correll Buckhalter (knee) returned to practice. Buckhalter and LaMont Jordan (back) missed practice Thursday.


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