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Elway warms to Tebow

Denver Broncos chief of football operations John Elway gave quarterback Tim Tebow his strongest endorsement yet on Tuesday.

"Tim Tebow's not going anywhere," Elway said in an interview with the Associated Press. "I mean, he's going to be a Bronco, and we're going to do everything we can and hopefully he's that guy."

Tebow's ability to become an effective pocket passer has been the subject of great debate this season. After Tebow improved to 4-1 as a starter this season, Elway was asked on a Denver radio station if he was "any closer to feeling if you have your quarterback on this team?" Elway said no and added Tebow had to improve as a passer.

"I think that comment was probably a little bit too blunt," Elway said. "Because I think the big picture with Tim is we've got to see the whole body of work. And so really what you want to see with him is the improvement that's going to happen over time.

"Because, he's done what we knew he could do and where we've seen his progress is what he does within the pocket," Elway said. "What we've said, and I said it when I first got here, was we know Tim's a great player and what we've got to do is make him a great quarterback. And what I've learned is you've got to be able to win from within the pocket."

The Broncos visit Buffalo on Saturday.

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There still are 24,000 tickets left for Saturday's game, so it figures to be the third straight local TV blackout for the Bills.

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Chan Gailey said after the Miami loss Sunday he did not want to overwork running back C.J. Spiller, who had 12 carries for 91 yards and nine catches for 76 yards.

"We're trying not to wear the guy completely out," said Gailey after the game. "He's not the biggest back in the world. I don't think he can go out there and carry it 25 or 30 times. I don't want to put him in that position to carry it 25 to 30 times. I think we've got to split the carries and let Tashard have some of those packages to take some of the hits off of C.J."

Asked to elaborate on his approach with Spiller, Gailey said Wednesday: "He really didn't play the whole first half, the whole two-thirds of the season. I don't want to put 25-30 carries on him right now. At some point, he may get 25-30 carries, but if he's going to be involved in the passing game, he's going to touch it 15-20 times and that's what he needs to do. We need to try to make sure he touches it in some way, shape or form 20 times a game. That's what you hope to have from a guy like that. Again, he's not a 215-, 220-pound back like Fred (Jackson). You can't expect him to be one, and if all his runs are edge runs, he might be (able to carry it) 25 times. But if he's going to run it up inside, which we need him to do, he's going to take some pretty good licks and I'm not sure I want that at this point in his career. Maybe in the future, yeah, but not now."

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Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said he has not been bothered by the rib injury he suffered in the Washington game on Oct. 30. He was on the injury report the next game, against the Jets, for a "chest" injury. He has not been on the injury report since or missed any practice time.

Asked how long the London Fletcher hit affected him, Fitzpatrick said: "However long I showed up on the injury report. I'm good to go now, though."

Asked if he broke a rib at any point, Fitzpatrick said no.

Fitzpatrick has not been wearing any extra padding in the locker room or at practice since after the Jets game, and he has not appeared to be wearing any extra protection in games, either.

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Bills tight end Scott Chandler was limited in practice but Gailey said he has a chance to play against the Broncos. Chandler has missed the last two games due to a sprained ankle. Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus suffered a left hand injury in the Miami game. Gailey sounded optimistic about Dareus' availability.

"I have hopes for him playing Saturday but I'm not 100 percent sure," Gailey said of Chandler. "But it looks better this week than it has at any other time, at least he's getting on the practice field. Marcell will be out there."

Receiver Stevie Johnson was held out of practice to rest his sore groin, but he's expected to play Saturday. Also sitting out was running back Johnny White.

The Bills promoted tight end Kevin Brock to the active roster and placed tight end Lee Smith on injured reserve. Smith suffered a serious ankle injury against Miami. Brock, 6-foot-5 and 260, played at Rutgers and was cut Dec. 6 by Oakland.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

email: mgaughan@buffnews.com