Broncos rookie RB Phillip Lindsay ruled out for finale with wrist injury

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- As Broncos rookie running back Phillip Lindsay struggled with a badly swollen right wrist -- in an effort to finish off a suit-and-tie look for the chartered flight back to Denver after Monday night's 27-14 loss at the Oakland Raiders -- he joked he already had been "Santa for everybody this year." So, a Christmas Day visit to the doctor wouldn't get in the way of the good tidings.

"Christmas came early,'' Lindsay said. "I think it'll be all right.''

It was not, however, as Lindsay's exam from the team's medical staff Tuesday revealed ligament damage in his wrist; more tests were set to be conducted to check for a fracture in one of the small bones of the wrist, according to team sources.

It means Lindsay's season is over; and unless there is a significant change in the injury status, the rookie is not expected to play in the Pro Bowl. Earlier this month, Lindsay became the first offensive player to be named to the Pro Bowl as an undrafted rookie.

For the season, Lindsay had played just over 45 percent of the snaps on offense and has 79 more carries than the next running back for the Broncos, so his absence will require some adjustments for Sunday's regular-season finale against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Much of the early-down work figures to go to fellow rookie Royce Freeman. Since missing two games with an ankle injury earlier this season, Freeman has had just one game when he's had more than seven carries -- Dec. 2 vs. Cincinnati, when he had 12 for 48 yards.

Devontae Booker, often the Broncos' back of choice in longer-yardage situations, especially on third down, will continue that role while also picking up some early-down work when Freeman needs a break. Fullback Andy Janovich has just two carries this season, and the Broncos do have a running back on the practice squad -- 5-foot-7, 243-pound Khalfani Muhammad -- if they wanted to promote him to the active roster.

Lindsay played 21 snaps in the Broncos' Christmas Eve loss to the Raiders, finishing with 46 yards on 10 carries. Lindsay finished his rookie season with 1,037 yards, to go with nine rushing touchdowns, and he exited Week 16 tied for second in the league at 5.4 yards per carry.

He also finished just shy of Dominic Rhodes' NFL record of 1,104 rushing yards by an undrafted rookie.

Lindsay's final carry in Monday night's game was a 7-yard gain with 4 minutes, 40 seconds remaining in the third quarter. He spent the fourth quarter on the Broncos' bench, sitting with teammates.

"I was just going through a play and it got hit and it just got numb a little bit,'' Lindsay said of his wrist after the contest. "They took precaution and felt that I should stay out ... they decided it was probably smart for me to sit out.''

Lindsay, whose right wrist was noticeably swollen, also expressed hope that the injury wasn't serious, stating, "It's probably a sprain."