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Horse Tracks: Colts offensive line wounded, Broncos defense licking their chops

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The Colts are already hurting, but the Broncos are about to elevate the pain. Notes on Wes Welker, Brandon Marshall, Demaryius Thomas and more.

Good morning, Broncos Country!

Noting the Colts' absence of Robert Mathis, and the absence of owner Jim Irsay's comments getting in Peyton Manning's head (the owner is on a short leash), Woody Paige says the Colts are in for a "world of hurt" vs. the Broncos this week and predicts a 42-20 rout. It's hard to disagree. Just look at the current state of their offensive line.

The Colts signed A.Q. Shipley from the Baltimore Ravens this weekend during roster cuts, and the former Packers center (and Colts practice squadder) will likely start for Indy this weekend. Unfortunately for the Colts, they are already banged up across their offensive line, with two centers being likely out for Sunday's season opener, having to rely on veteran cuts to create their opening day lineup. That does not bode well for a team facing a Broncos defense that has all sorts of nasty going for it.

Much like the 2013 season opener was the Broncos offense's coming out party, one has to feel like this 2014 season opener will be the gun-firing for the Broncos defense. DeMarcus Ware, Von Miller, and Terrance Knighton are licking their chops at this banged-up o-line.

The Broncos are optimistic Wes Welker will play this week, according to PFT, who also note that the eyes of the NFL medical world will be watching.

Brandon Marshall's elevation to starter, while due to the injury to Danny Trevathan, is also a testament to John Fox's coaching style. If you perform, you will be rewarded. Your status reflects your production. Marshall shone as a member of Denver's practice squad, with his peers unable to block the backup weakside linebacker.

"Our offensive players loved him," Broncos coach John Fox said of Marshall. "He was running around on the practice squad last year, and I finally said to the guys, 'Hey, we can't block this dude.' He's on scout team wrecking our offense.

"In Oakland, I've got offensive players — I won't mention names — chirping at me to get him into the game. That's what happens. They go against these guys every day. So some of these young guys make an impression. And players know players."

Practice notes: Welker returns while Kayvon Webster, Ronnie Hillman, and Ben Garland sit. Demaryius Thomas said it was a surprise to be named team captain. Video / Photos.

Mitch Unrein earned his spot on this 53-man roster by playing the most snaps of his NFL career to-date, writes Andrew Mason.

Peyton Manning and Adam Gase were not disciplined for their accidental meet-up this offseason, the Denver Post reports.

Montee Ball is living the dream.

"It's a dream come true," Ball said Monday in a private moment. "Man, it's a dream come true, a blessing, because it's been my goal since I was 8 years old. I had a jersey, and in my room in college I had a Bronco head carved out of wood on my wall. I remember the emotions (of Denver's first Super Bowl win) — and how excited my dad was, amped up, jumping around, all that stuff."

Finally today, the Buffalo Bills have signed Kyle Orton. They are paying him $5 million this year. This is highway robbery, but hey, good for Orton I guess. I'll be answering some questions about Orton for a Bills blog, so stay tuned for a note in a subsequent Horse Tracks on that.

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