ENGLEWOOD – Denver Broncos right guard Chris Kuper broke his left forearm at practice Tuesday and could miss up to six weeks.
Kuper got caught at the bottom of a pile during team drills early in practice and retreated to the team’s Dove Valley headquarters for X-rays. The Broncos said they expect Kuper to fully recover in four to six weeks.
He’ll be replaced by Manny Ramirez, a sixth-year pro who started at right guard in the team’s preseason opener at Chicago last week.
The stalwart of an otherwise young offensive line, Kuper was making progress in his return from a broken left leg in last season’s regular-season finale when he got hurt again.
His was the most serious of several injuries Tuesday.
Defensive end Jason Hunter, who’s been working with the starters for two weeks, also left practice with a triceps injury, and rookie running back Ronnie Hillman limped off after a nifty run that was his best of training camp.
Hillman said he tweaked his pulled hamstring but insisted it wasn’t a setback, and he later returned for individual drills.
“It just flared up on me a little bit. I went down but I got right back in there,” Hillman said.
Hillman said he doesn’t expect to be fully recovered for a while but estimated he’s at about 90 percent.
Hillman, a third-round draft pick out of San Diego State, wants to play Saturday night against Seattle, but after Tuesday’s tweak, his coaches might keep him on the sideline until the third preseason game against San Francisco on Aug. 26.
The Broncos want Hillman to be their No. 2 back as long as he can show good blitz pickup. But the hamstring injury has set him back. He missed the exhibition opener and is listed behind both Willis McGahee and Lance Ball on the depth chart.
Hillman said he feels like a Lamborghini that’s stuck in lower gear, “but I’ll settle for being a Porsche right now.”
The Broncos, who recently saw signed weakside linebacker Keith Brooking limp off the field with a strained hamstring Monday, have been without starting safety Quinton Carter (knee, hamstring) since July 27, haven’t gotten safety Jim Leonhard (knee) on the field yet and were without starting cornerback Tracy Porter (illness) and rookie linebacker Danny Travathan (ankle) on Tuesday.
“You’re concerned about all of them, you’d like them out there because this is how we get better,” coach John Fox said. “But we take a next-man-up approach, and it gives the man behind them an opportunity.”
In addition to the rash of injuries, there was a scuffle between defensive end Elvis Dumervil and running back Knowshon Moreno.
After jawing at each other, Moreno flung the football at Dumervil’s chest at close range, and Dumervil responded by charging after the running back, who’s coming back from a torn ACL. Like they do in hockey, teammates let the scrum go on for several seconds before intervening and pulling them apart.
“It’s camp. That’s going to happen,” linebacker Joe Mays said. “Guys get tired. They feel like they’re getting pushed around too much ... They have a little bit of attitude. We’re family out here. We’re going to be fine. We’re going to go in the locker room and laugh about it.”