Derek Wolfe
John Leyba, The Denver Post
Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe was carted off in the first quarter of their Week 12 game at Oakland with a neck injury.

Illness and injury have taken hold of the Broncos’ locker room and will leave the team thin on both sides of the ball Sunday.

Vance Joseph ruled out four players with injuries for their Week 13 game at Miami: defensive end Derek Wolfe (neck), nose tackle Domata Peko (knee), right guard Ron Leary (back) and quarterback Paxton Lynch (ankle).

Tight end Jeff Heuerman (knee) was listed as questionable to play, along with three defenders all dealing with the illness that has spread rapidly at the team’s Dove Valley training facility: outside linebacker Shane Ray, OLB/DE DeMarcus Walker and inside linebacker Todd Davis. The three did not practice Friday.

“It’s because of the illness,” Joseph said. “It’s obviously spreading fast.”

Peko’s knee injury ends his starting streak at 123 games, the longest among active defensive linemen in the NFL.

Over the past week or so, the Broncos’ flu-like bug has affected at least six players, starting with Peko and Shelby Harris, and including Trevor Siemian, though Siemian did not miss practice this week.

“Shelby got sick and next thing you know, everybody’s going down. I’ve been dealing with it all week,” Ray said. “This is probably the best I’ve felt, which is still not saying much. … I’m going to play. A couple more days of rest, some good fluids, I should be all right. … It’s that kind of year.”

To fill the void on the offensive line, Connor McGovern will start at right guard in place of Leary and Donald Stephenson will start at right tackle.

On the defensive line, the Broncos “are fine,” Joseph said, with Zach Kerr expected to start at nose tackle, and Harris stepping in at defensive end in place of Wolfe. Kyle Peko and Walker, assuming he’s healthy enough to play, will serve as backups.

Promotion. To take provide depth in the wake of Aqib Talib‘s one-game suspension, the Broncos promoted practice-squad cornerback Marcus Rios to the active roster. Bradley Roby will take on a larger role and fill Talib’s spot on the field, while Brendan Langley becomes the third corner (Roby’s usual role) and Rios provides depth.

“This is huge for Roby,” Joseph said. “He’s been our third corner for a couple of years. He’s a guy that I’ve seen as a starter, so this is his chance to prove that he can go out and be a front-line starter for us against some really good receivers. It should be fun to watch.”

Massive payout. In addition to the suspensions of Talib and Michael Crabtree and the $24,309 fine issued to Broncos safety Darian Stewart for his hit on Amari Cooper, the NFL billed two others in last weekend’s game at Oakland. Raiders guard Gabe Jackson, who ejected during the melee, was fined $30,387 for making physical contact with an official. And Shane Ray was fined $12,154 for unsportsmanlike conduct for his role in the fight. Ray plans to appeal his fine, according to a source.

Talib and Crabtree had their original two-game suspensions reduced to one apiece, but their absence comes at a tremendous cost — to both them and their respective teams. Talib’s suspension will cost him $570,934 in lost salary, while Crabtree will lose $407,897, including a game roster bonus.

All told, players from both sides shelled out $1,045,681.

An MVP. Receiver Emmanuel Sanders was selected by the NFL Players Association as its Week 12 Community MVP for his two-week winter clothing, book and toy drive for disadvantaged children in the Denver area.

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