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SORE-SHOULDERED GRIESE EXPECTS TO MAKE START FOR BRONCOS

It was judgment day for Denver Broncos quarterback Brian Griese.

No practice, no start.

He practiced Thursday. So Griese and his sore right shoulder fulfilled coach Mike Shanahan's playing-time prerequisite, and he is expected to start against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

"Last week, on Thursday, he planned on practicing, and he came out and threw the ball twice and couldn't practice. If he did that today, then he wouldn't have started," Shanahan said. "We would have kept him off or at least backing up, but he went out there and looked pretty good."

Griese's sore throwing shoulder, which has required surgery each of the past two years, limited him to one practice last week. He subsequently had one of his worst games of the season in Denver's 34-21 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Griese matched a career high with three interceptions against the Seahawks, and he ended the day in pain after being hit by defensive end Lamar King. The hit aggravated the sore shoulder that began bothering Griese a week earlier.

"When you play that position and you're getting hit and knocked around a lot, you need a few days after that. It's a totally different game for him than it is for the rest of us," Denver receiver Rod Smith said. "When he does take the hits the last few weeks, it kind of wears on you."

Barring any setback, Griese will start ahead of backup Gus Frerotte, who helped the Broncos (3-2) win five of their final six regular-season games in 2000.

Regardless of who starts at quarterback, Denver will need to revive the running game against the Chargers (3-2). In two losses, the Broncos have averaged 76.5 yards rushing.

Moss upgraded to probable

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Minnesota Vikings receiver Randy Moss practiced Thursday for the first time since aggravating an ankle injury Sunday, and he was upgraded from questionable to probable on the injury report for this week's game against Green Bay.

"I think it feels better," coach Dennis Green said.

Moss sat out 20 percent to 25 percent of the plays in Sunday's game against Detroit in an effort to minimize the pain.

"He's played with it," Green said. "I just think we're trying to get him to play and play with it more effectively. He's one of the best players in the game, and it's our job to try and keep him that way."

Trainer Chuck Barta said Moss "looked good" and participated in all aspects of the practice but limited his repetitions.

The Packers said they expected Moss to play.

"There's nothing questionable about Randy Moss," coach Mike Sherman said. "He's a super player. He'll play. I don't care - one leg, no leg, that guy can make plays."

Free safety Darren Sharper wants Moss to play.

"I want them to have all their guns," he said. "Anytime someone's listed as questionable against the Packers, you can throw the questionable out the window, they're going to play."

Around the league

Carolina Panthers quarterback Chris Weinke and wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad returned to practice Thursday, but the team learned that defensive end Jason Peter will not be available against the Washington Redskins on Sunday. Weinke had an MRI on his hip and thigh, which revealed no serious damage. Muhammad was suffering from a calf injury, and Peter has been bothered by neck and shoulder injuries.

Rookie Kyle Vanden Bosch, who quickly emerged as the Arizona Cardinals' best defensive lineman, will be sidelined an estimated six to eight weeks with a torn ligament in his right knee.

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