Broncos will be without starting long snapper

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) -- The Denver Broncos will be without long snapper Lonie Paxton for their divisional playoff game against the New England Patriots on Saturday night.

Paxton has been dealing with a family issue all week and was officially ruled out Friday along with receiver Eric Decker (knee).

It's likely that Russ Hochstein will be the fill-in long snapper. Right guard Chris Kuper used to be Paxton's backup but he broke his left leg two weeks ago and was placed on injured reserve. Hochstein, an 11th-year pro who spent six seasons in New England, replaced Kuper on the offensive line.

Paxton was a big part of the Broncos' spectacular special teams, which helped them end a six-year playoff drought. He had just one errant snap all season, leading to a botched extra point.