Portis back at practice

Updated: October 1, 2003, 7:03 PM ET

DENVER -- Denver running back Clinton Portis was back at practice Wednesday, but the Broncos won't know if he can play this weekend until after he tests his bruised chest in contact drills.

Portis ran without any problems and will see if he can handle being hit in a full-pad workout Thursday.

"There was no setback, but until he actually goes through a practice where there's contact it's really hard to know for sure," coach Mike Shanahan said. "We'll see if he can take some shots and hold onto the football."

Portis bruised his sternum Sept. 14 against San Diego when Chargers safety Kwamie Lassiter hit him under the pads. He returned the next week against Oakland, but aggravated the injury after landing on his shoulder in the first half.

Portis took just two snaps in the second half against the Raiders and sat out last week's game against Detroit.

"Every injury can get worse," Shanahan said. "It all depends on if he gets hit in that area. Can he function, can he go out and play at the level he's capable of playing at? That's what we'll find out tomorrow."

The Broncos also are holding out hope that center Tom Nalen will be able to play at Kansas City after spraining his ankle against the Lions.

Nalen was walking better Wednesday, but still had a limp and didn't practice. He will likely be held out on Thursday before testing it Friday.

"He has made some improvement, which is a good sign, but that doesn't surprise me," Shanahan said. "The question is, can he play during a game and play at a high level? If he can, great. If he can't, we'll have other guys step in and get the job done."


ARROWHEAD NOISE: The Broncos are expecting plenty of noise at Arrowhead Stadium this Sunday. Kansas City's fans are enthusiastic and loud to begin with, and playing the rival Broncos with both teams at 4-0 will only make them turn the volume up.

"It's a very rowdy, tough crowd, but it's going to be a great atmosphere for a game, a great environment," Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer said. "It's going to be loud and there's nothing we can do about it."

Shanahan's loudest memory of Arrowhead was from a 14-10 win over the Chiefs in a 1997 playoff game there.

"I remember in that playoff game, this was three or four minutes before the game, and I'm trying to talk to my son, who is standing right next to me," Shanahan said. "I am yelling, and I am yelling at the top of my voice, and he cannot hear me. He had no idea what I was talking to him about. So that's how loud it was. That environment doesn't happen very often. It's something you look forward to as a coach."


SHARPE ON RUSH: At the start of the season, Shannon Sharpe questioned Rush Limbaugh's place as a football analyst, saying the conservative radio talk show host might not know the difference between a screen play and a screen porch.

Limbaugh's comments this week about Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb being overrated because he's black only furthered Sharpe's belief that Limbaugh is out of his element.

"I don't know Rush Limbaugh, (but) like I said, I told you that screen play/screen porch coming into effect," Sharpe said. "I was counting on middle of the year, (but in the) first four weeks he beat me to it. But I knew it would happen. I don't know if he meant it the way it came out, but you stay away from comments like that. No matter how strongly you feel about something, you stay away from comments like that."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index