Broncos try to focus on football again

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ENGLEWOOD, COLO. (AP) - The Denver Broncos returned to work Wednesday, trying their best to focus on football 48 hours after the suicide of teammate Kenny McKinley.

“It will be a tough week and all the guys handle it differently, but the one constant is everybody’s going to be preparing and playing with a heavy heart,” quarterback Kyle Orton said. “Kenny will be in all of our thoughts.”

And in the thoughts of many across the NFL and in college who knew the 23-year-old wide receiver known for his fierce competitiveness and incessant smile.

Tennessee Titans tight end Jared Cook, who was McKinley’s roommate for two years at South Carolina, said he was going to ask for time off next week to attend his friend’s funeral.

Like so many others, Cook said there were no warning signs of trouble with the wide receiver, who according to Arapahoe County sheriff’s investigators, shot himself in the head Monday with a .45-caliber pistol.

Kenny was scared of guns,” Cook suggested, adding, “No red flags were brought up. It was just out of the blue.”

McKinley’s Broncos teammates decided to leave his locker in place for the remainder of the season as a shrine to their teammate who had been on injured reserve following left knee surgery last month. There will also be a moment of silence Sunday before their game against Indianapolis and players will wear white decals with No. 11 in navy on their helmets.

Players said the gregarious, lanky receiver who left behind a toddler son would be on their minds at kickoff.

“Absolutely. He was a brother,” Denver linebacker Mario Haggan said. “He was a fraternity member. He was on our team. He helped us win games last year and we expected him to be back after the (rehab).

“He’ll definitely be on my mind. He’ll probably be on my mind ‘til I go under.”

The Colts are tragically familiar with this type of grief. They had to deal with it when then-coach Tony Dungy’s son killed himself in December 2005.

“Every team is different, but that’s not an easy thing to get through,” Colts coach Jim Caldwell said. “I think when you’re out on the field, your focus in on what you’re doing, and when you’re off the field, you’re grieving. Also we have a way, I think, to make this game, the way it is, become all-consuming, and I think something like this also makes everybody think about their priorities a little more, as well.”

Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said the team will hold a private memorial at team headquarters with McKinley’s friends and family on Friday. Some members of the organization will fly to the funeral Monday in Austell, Ga., near McKinley’s hometown of Mableton.

McKinley’s father, Kenneth McKinley, told The Associated Press that services at the Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral will be open to the public.

McKinley died Monday of a gunshot to the head at his home near the Broncos‘ practice facilities a day after returning to Denver along with his 1-year-old son from Columbia, S.C., where he had watched his alma mater’s 17-6 win over Georgia on Sept. 11.

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