THE DENVER Broncos might have to face former quarterback Kyle Orton with two backup safeties if Brian Dawkins and Quinton Carter can't play in Sunday's showdown with the visiting Kansas City Chiefs, who are trying to deny Tim Tebow a trip to the playoffs.
Although Carter (hip) participated in the entire 2-hour workout yesterday, Dawkins was held out of the team's final full-padded practice of the regular season because of a neck injury that has bothered him for much of the month. Dawkins didn't address his availability for Sunday but did dismiss speculation that the injury threatens his 16-year career.
Dawkins, Carter and nickel cornerback Chris Harris (neck) with 62 tackles, were knocked out of last week's loss at Buffalo.
If Dawkins can't play, David Bruton would start at strong safety even though he was limited at practice because of a nagging Achilles' injury.
In another matter, the league changed one of Tebow's four interceptions against the Bills to a sack and fumble.
In other news:
* Green Bay offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith said Ndamukong Suh called him to apologize a few days after the Lions defensive lineman's infamous Thanksgiving Day stomp. "He's cool, he apologized, and there's no hard feelings and that's pretty much it," said Dietrich-Smith, who will see Suh again Sunday when Detroit visits Lambeau Field.
* Linebacker Jason Taylor says he'll retire after this season, his 15th in the NFL and his 13th with Miami.
* New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora practiced on a limited basis after being sidelined for the month with a high ankle sprain and continuing problems with his knee. He is likely to play Sunday night when the Giants (8-7) face Dallas (8-7) for the division title and a first-round home game against either Atlanta or Detroit. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said he expects to play, but his coach, Jason Garrett, said it was too early to tell. Romo was limited in practice because of his still-swollen bruised right hand, but he did throw several passes.
* Police are investigating the reported theft of four guns worth $1,700 from a pickup truck owned by Carolina Panthers backup linebacker Kion Wilson. * Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew says lawsuits have fueled the NFL's crackdown on concussions.
* Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy still has not been cleared by team doctors to practice after sustaining a concussion on Dec. 8, and will likely miss the season finale Sunday against Pittsburgh.
* Kevin Kolb still has lingering concussion symptoms but the Arizona quarterback is resisting the idea that his injury-plagued first season with the Cardinals is over. Kolb has not played since Dec. 11.
* Miami left tackle Jake Long has been placed on injured reserve with a right arm injury, meaning he'll miss the finale Sunday against the Jets.