Sharpe misses practice with ankle injury

Updated: October 31, 2003, 8:43 PM ET

DENVER -- Denver tight end Shannon Sharpe sat out Friday's practice with a sprained ankle, the latest in a series of injuries that have dogged the Broncos.

Sharpe, listed as probable for Monday night's game against New England, was one of 12 Broncos on the injury report.

Sharpe was held out of practice mostly as a precaution, coach Mike Shanahan said. For the second straight day, inclement weather forced the Broncos to practice indoors, and artificial turf tends to be rougher on leg injuries than grass.

"Shannon has a little bit of a sprained ankle," Shanahan said. "We didn't want to push it on this turf. He tweaked it (Thursday). If we had been practicing on grass (Friday), he could have practiced."

Shanahan said he expected Sharpe to participate in the team's closed practice at Invesco Field on Saturday night.

Three Broncos -- quarterback Jake Plummer (foot), offensive tackle Ephraim Salaam (knee) and linebacker John Mobley (neck) -- are listed as "out" this week.

Wide receivers Ed McCaffrey (quadriceps) and Chris Cole (ankle) are listed as questionable.

Cole practiced Friday, but McCaffrey has been held out of practice and his status for Monday night's game likely will be a game-time decision.

Quarterback Danny Kanell, who injured the index finger on his throwing hand in last week's 26-6 loss to Baltimore, was a full participant in Friday's session. He is listed as probable on the injury report. ^------=

^OFFENSIVE DECLINE:@ Since starting quarterback Jake Plummer broke his foot, Denver's offense has gone into serious decline.

Over the first five games under Plummer, the Broncos averaged 372 yards per game. Without Plummer, the Broncos have averaged 252 yards in their last three games, including a season-low 194 yards last week against Baltimore.

Running back Clinton Portis had some strong words about the state of the offense.

"Lately, our offense has really been garbage," he said. "We haven't been on the field long and the defense has been out there more than half the game. They need some help from the offense. They can't do it by themselves.

"We have really been some trash on offense, and everybody is accountable for that. We need to establish some offense." ^------=

^NO FINE:@ Offensive tackle Matt Lepsis, who was ejected from last week's game in Baltimore, won't be fined, according to an NFL spokesman.

Lepsis was engaged in a war of words with Baltimore's Ray Lewis in the second quarter and forcefully extricated himself from the grasp of Ravens players. In the process, he shoved away the hands of field judge Greg Gautreaux. Another official then threw a flag and ejected Lepsis for making contact with Gautreaux.

Earlier this week after studying the game tape, Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said he was surprised that Lepsis was thrown out.

Shanahan said Lewis, who grabbed Lepsis' facemask and taunted him after complaining about Lepsis' low block, should have drawn a 15-yard penalty. Ravens cornerback Corey Fuller then joined the fray, sticking his hand underneath Lepsis' jersey. Gautreaux tried to break up the confrontation, grabbing Fuller's arm. Lepsis pushed away Fuller's arm, which caused the official to move. ^------=

^EXTRA POINTS:@ The Broncos enter Monday night's game ranked third in the NFL in rushing, second in total defense and fifth in pass defense. ... The Broncos and Patriots play each other so often they might as well be in the same division. They are meeting for the ninth consecutive year -- the longest current streak for non-division foes. ... Clinton Portis has had four 100-yard rushing performances this season, but New England is one of three NFL teams that has yet to allow a 100-yard rusher. Miami and the New York Giants are the others. ... The Broncos have won 12 of their last 14 games against the Patriots. Mike Shanahan is 6-2 against the Pats. ... Denver is an NFL-best 30-10 in November since 1993. ... Denver is the only defense in the NFL to have three players with at least five sacks. Bert Berry has seven sacks, and Trevor Pryce and Reggie Hayward have five apiece.

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