DENVER — The Patriots No. 1 cornerback is questionable to return after a former Patriot delivered a big body blow.

DENVER — What’s a little cold when you’ve had to battle through a torn ligament in your throwing hand?

Albert Breer of the NFL Network reported hours before kickoff of Sunday’s AFC championship that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady actually tore a ligament in his throwing hand.

Brady repeatedly denied that anything was seriously wrong when TV cameras during the Dolphins game showed his hand grotesquely swollen.

DENVER — The following players were announced as inactive for Sunday’s Patriots-Broncos game: offensive lineman Chris Barker, linebacker Steve Beauharnais, defensive end Jake Bequette, defensive lineman Isaac Sopoaga, tight end D.J. Williams, cornerback Justin Green and wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins. Here’s what the moves mean for Sunday’s game.

DENVER — Mother Nature is apparently a big fan of the Broncos and Patriots.

In January weather more befitting of Florida or Southern California, sunshine and 67 degrees is expected for the 1 p.m. MT kickoff here in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, as the Patriots and Broncos do battle in ideal conditions for the AFC championship.

DENVER — Wes Welker knows he’s lucky to have a second chance at his former team this season.

And this time, he wants to make the most of it.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Welker stepped up and spoke at the team’s meeting Saturday night after some encouraging last week from Denver head coach John Fox.

FOXBORO — The illness that circulated around the Patriots locker room this week has knocked rookie linebacker Steve Beauharnais out of Sunday’s AFC championship. The linebacker was not at practice on Friday and did not make the trip to Denver on the team’s flight Friday afternoon.

Aside from Beauharnais, only three players are questionable for the game. Receivers Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins were limited for a third straight day, as was punter Ryan Allen.

FOXBORO — Bill Belichick wants to keep the high times limited to football in the mile high air Sunday.

The Patriots coach, aware of Colorado’s new law legalizing recreational use of marijuana, specifically warned his players against getting high in the Rockies.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni Friday to talk about his AFC and NFC championship predictions and Peyton Manning. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

FOXBORO — He is regarded as the Patriots best pure deep threat. He could make a big difference, especially deep against an aging and injured Broncos secondary.

FOXBORO — Rookie linebacker Steve Beauharnais was the only player missing from Patriots practice Friday as the team wrapped up on-field preparations for the Broncos in Sunday’s AFC championship at Sports Authority Field in Denver.