The Denver Broncos struggled with more than an uncertainty at quarterback during training camp. Perhaps of bigger concern, they had difficulty staying healthy. Entering a pair of joint practices with the 49ers ahead of their second preseason game (against those same 49ers), the Broncos can address both issues.

Injuries to Shane Ray and Shaquil Barrett have garnered headlines, but other starters such as T.J. Ward, Menelik Watson and Adam Gotsis have also missed time due to injuries.The team also lost defensive lineman Billy Wynn for the season with a torn ACL.

Most recently, the entire state of Colorado nearly went into cardiac arrest when defensive end Derek Wolfe was carted off the field with an ankle injury. Thankfully, Wolfe was diagnosed with only a sprain and hopes to be ready for Week 1 of the regular season. After Tuesday’s practice he was described as day-to-day.

With Wynn out, Wolfe sidelined for now and 2017 second-round pick DeMarcus Walker lining up on the outside to provide depth at injured outside linebacker position, a deep position group is suddenly thinning out very quickly. The situation may have been made even worse on Monday when Jared Crick had to be carted off the field during team activities.

With the Broncos having suffered a handful of injuries, head coach Vance Joseph addressed the concern of depth at the defensive line on Saturday:

“Absolutely. Anytime you lose a guy like Billy [Winn], who’s played really well for us, that’s a concern. We have guys behind him who have to step up. You lose guys it’s a concern in all phases of the game.”

This week, the Broncos fly out to San Francisco for joint practices with the 49ers before their second preseason game. Paxton Lynch is slated to start the game and will have the opportunity to prove he is the best choice as the starting quarterback.

With the offense still seeking to find improvements, joint practices with another team could be a great thing for the offense as a whole.

The offense will finally get a chance to make some major progress, practicing against a unit that’s not the elite Broncos defense. Both quarterbacks will get to audition against live competition, while the offensive line will get more time to continue to improve as a unit.

For the defense, who largely has nothing to prove, practicing the Broncos starters extensively isn’t worth the risk of further injury.

The rebuilding 49ers, who finished last season at a dismal 2-14, do not have near the offensive firepower to challenge the Broncos’ defense.

While watching Von Miller and the “No Fly Zone” terrorize whoever lines up at quarterback for the 49ers would be another statement that the Broncos still possess an elite defense, another injury to a key member of the defense during practice could tank the Broncos’ chances of returning to the playoffs.

In the spirit of respect and sportsmanship, the Broncos will of course play the 49ers with their starters, as the 49ers will also use this opportunity to see how their team measures up to a defense like the Broncos. But as injuries continue to build on the team, limiting the reps the first-team defense gets would be a wise move.

Aside from being cautious about injury, this would allow for players who will be filling in for the injured started to get more reps in preparation in case another injury should arise.

This week of practice is crucial for the Broncos offense, who will use this time against the 49ers to help determine the starting quarterback for the season. As the offense continues to build chemistry, resting the defense generously would keep the risk of injury as minimal as possible.

Besides, the defense will have its hands full the following week for the “dress rehearsal” third preseason game against the Green Bay Packers and All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers.