Coach Mike Shanahan announced Wednesday that the Broncos will be without both Tony Scheffler and Selvin Young in Week 6, but said that he expects Eddie Royal to play despite injuring his ankle returning a punt last week. Royal suiting up would be pretty remarkable given that initial reports had him likely missing at least two games, but Shanahan said that "he should be ready to go."
Young disappointingly hasn't gotten more than a dozen touches in any game this year as Denver does its usual backfield shuffling, but his groin injury potentially opens the door for Michael Pittman to take on a big role. Pittman has long been one of my favorite no-name running backs because of his strong receiving ability and string of six straight seasons averaging at least 4.0 yards per carry.
Shanahan has also apparently taken a liking to him, hinting recently that Pittman could emerge with an increase role even before Young went down. For this week at least Pittman is a good bet to lead Denver in touches, including short-yardage work and third-down action. Toss in the Jaguars' struggles stopping the run this season and Pittman becomes a solid low-level RB2 option and great FLEX play.
While going against my better judgment by recommending a running back who's controlled by Shanahan, here are some other notes from around football .
* Vernon Davis' unique combination of size and speed has always intrigued me, but it may be time to cease holding out hope for the former sixth overall pick as a big-time fantasy asset. Davis has just five catches in five games, including zero grabs last week, and ranks 35th among tight ends with 11 targets. Not only has he failed to break out, he's regressed after totaling 509 yards last season.
Even when Mike Martz's play-calling is pass-heavy it's rarely for tight ends. Plus, it sounds like Davis simply hasn't impressed the coaching staff with his receiving ability. "He has a responsibility to himself to run the correct routes," coach Mike Nolan said. "In order to use your exceptional speed it's better with the ball in your hand. Otherwise you're just running fast and it looks good." Ouch.
Nolan noted that Davis "is not short on work ethic" and "has done an outstanding job blocking, both run and pass," explaining that "by no stretch would I say he's a bust." However, praising his blocking is no comfort to Davis' fantasy owners and ultimately the proof of his development is in the lack of targets. He's still just 24 years old and gifted, but it's tough to see Davis emerging as a TE1 this season.
* Chris Chambers was carted off the field Sunday when a defender rolled on his leg, but the Chargers haven't said much about his status since except for calling it an ankle sprain. However, he missed practice Wednesday and is not expected to play this week against the Patriots, leaving Philip Rivers without a target who's produced five touchdowns and an average of 20.5 yards per catch in five games.
Chambers has obviously made a huge impact, but his actual role in San Diego's passing attack hasn't been that steady. He's been targeted just 24 times, which ranks 62nd in the league and third on the Chargers behind Vincent Jackson (30) and Antonio Gates (27). In other words, fill-in Craig Davis likely won't step into a big role, but Jackson and Gates could see extra scoring chances.
* My weekly Thursday live chat begins at 3:00 p.m. ET and promises to be filled with Pittman talk, waiver-wire suggestions, and people complaining about me not sticking strictly to football questions. If that sounds like fun or you're just looking for an excuse not to do anything productive this afternoon, come check it out.
Two-Minute Drill:Matt Jones may still face a suspension from the league, but by entering a nine-month intervention program with frequent drug testing he'll avoid trial on felony possession of cocaine charges . Tom Brady underwent surgery Monday to repair the torn MCL and ACL in his knee, and now faces 6-8 months of rehab . Coach John Harbaugh announced Wednesday that Joe Flacco will be the Ravens' starter of the remainder of the year . Despite missing one series Sunday night with an ankle injury, Maurice Jones-Drew is absent from the injury report for a favorable matchup against Denver . Midseason trades are very rare in the NFL, but Albert Haynesworth said Tuesday that he'd like the Titans to deal for a receiver like Roy Williams, Anquan Boldin, or Chad Ocho Cinco . Deuce McAllister was on the field for single-digit snaps Monday night versus Minnesota, but will see more time versus teams that aren't impossible to run on . LenDale White explained Wednesday that his lack of Week 5 action was due to shoulder soreness, but being enormously out of shape and significantly worse than Chris Johnson are slightly bigger long-term issues.
Red Zone:Anquan Boldin didn't practice Wednesday, instead being examined by the surgeon who performed his sinus surgery . Aaron Rodgers (shoulder) put in a limited practice Wednesday, but declared afterward that there's "no doubt" he'll play in Week 6 . Donte' Stallworth (quadriceps) practiced fully Wednesday and finally looks ready to make his Browns debut . Brandon Lloyd missed practice Wednesday and looks likely to sit out his second straight game with a sprained knee . Coach Jon Gruden indicated Wednesday that Brian Griese (elbow) won't play this week, leaving Jeff Garcia to start against the Panthers . Deion Branch (heel) is not expected to practice this week, making him highly unlikely to suit up Sunday . Mike Walker didn't practice Wednesday, lending credence to reports that he suffered a sprained knee in last week's breakout game . Jon Kitna had an MRI exam on his injured back Wednesday while the first-team practices reps were split between Dan Orlovsky and Drew Stanton . Kellen Winslow was gone from practice Wednesday with what was called an unspecified illness, so there's some speculation that it's something more serious.