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Broncos lose top wideout Sanders to Achilles injury

The Associated Press

Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders warms up prior to a Nov. 25 game against the Steelers.

The Associated PressENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Although the schedule gets easier for the Denver Broncos this month, the degree of difficulty in reaching the playoffs keeps going up.

The Broncos (6-6) lost leading wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to a ruptured left Achilles tendon on Wednesday. He was hurt in a non-contact drill at the beginning of practice.

The 31-year-old receiver was placed on injured reserve and on Wednesday night he tweeted, “If you know me then you know nothing can keep me down. I’ve overcome too much in life to let this stop me. I’ll be back next year w/ a bigger chip on my shoulder ... I PROMISE!”

The Broncos quickly claimed wide receiver Andre Holmes off waivers from Buffalo, giving them a seventh-year veteran to go with their four remaining receivers, all of whom made their NFL debuts this season.

Sanders, who led the team with 71 catches for 868 yards and four touchdowns in a bounce-back year, was injured on a routine route. He sensed the gravity of the injury as he crumbled to the ground, tearing off his helmet and rolling it away as teammates and trainers rushed toward him.

“It didn’t look good,” coach Vance Joseph said, adding Sanders “was sore last week in his heel area and he felt great today.”

Sanders’ injury was the latest blow to a team that’s lost seven starters from its opening-day lineup, including six on offense.

“It hurt, especially with an Achilles injury, that’s a major injury,” rookie receiver DaeSean Hamilton said. “He was our leader and he was a coach, too, so it was hard to watch.”

Sanders’ injury came three days after the Broncos lost star cornerback Chris Harris Jr. to a broken right lower leg, an injury that could sideline him for the rest of the regular season.

Bengals put WR Green on IR

CINCINNATI (AP) — Bengals receiver A.J. Green will be sidelined for the rest of the season with an injured toe on his right foot.

The Bengals placed him on injured reserve on Wednesday. Green got hurt on Oct. 28, missed three games with the injury, and returned last Sunday against Denver. He aggravated it while running a route, and he’s getting medical opinions on whether he should have surgery.

Green finishes with 46 catches for 694 yards — both career lows — and six touchdowns.

Refs back under-fire official

Meanwhile, the NFL Referees Association is questioning why the league isn’t focusing more attention on Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes for threatening umpire Roy Ellison following Buffalo’s game at Miami last weekend.

Ellison has been placed on administrative leave while the NFL investigates Hughes’ accusation that Ellison called him a vulgar name during the game.

In a statement released Wednesday, NFLRA executive director Scott Green said the association expects the NFL’s investigation to clear Ellison, while turning the focus on Hughes.

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