When Denver added Champ Bailey and John Lynch to the roster last March, the club knew it was adding two quality players.
Nine months later, they're the Broncos' only Pro Bowlers.
Bailey and Lynch were both selected to the AFC All-Star roster for the Pro Bowl on Wednesday, marking the fifth and sixth selections for each defensive back, respectively.
As a member of the Washington Redskins, Bailey made the trip to Hawaii after each of the past four seasons. But making it a fifth consecutive trip didn't weigh heavily on his mind in the day prior to the selection announcement.
"I just want to win," he said. "We've got to get in these playoffs. Forget the Pro Bowl. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't."
His head coach vouched for his case.
"I'll be honest with you, of course I do (think Bailey deserves to go)," Mike Shanahan said. "He's one of the best corners in the league, if not the best. But that's neither here nor there."
For Lynch, the selection marks a return to the islands for Lynch, who missed last year's game after qualifying after the 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Denver has had a defensive player named to the Pro Bowl every year since 1989. But the Broncos' offense was shut out. Unless any players are added as alternates in the next seven weeks, the Broncos will be without an offensive Pro Bowler for the second time in three years after having at least one offensive player selected for each of the previous 13 Pro Bowls.
Linebacker Al Wilson and center Tom Nalen were passed over after earning nods following last season. Wilson was added as an alternate on Jan. 22 after being passed over in the primary selection, giving him a streak of three consecutive Pro Bowls. Nalen's selection last year was his fourth in the previous seven years.
At the conclusion of the fan voting on Dec. 17, Bailey and Lynch led their respective positions (cornerback and free safety, specifically) in the voting. Bailey received 263,863 votes -- fifth-best among all defensive players -- while Lynch garnered 119,680. The total fan vote counts as one-third of the Pro Bowl ballot tally. One-third of the vote comes from the players, and the other third from NFL coaches. Players and coaches cast their ballots over the weekend.
You can catch the announcement of both the AFC and NFC Pro Bowl rosters this evening at 5 p.m. (MST) on the 2005 Pro Bowl Selection Show on ESPN. The game will be played in Hawaii on Sunday, Feb. 13 and televised by ESPN at 5:30 p.m. (MST).
Thursday, December 23, 2004
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Among the Broncos and their followers, there seems to be unanimity on one subject -- that defensive lineman Trevor Pryce can make the defense at least a little bit better whenever he returns to action.
But try telling that to Pryce himself.
"I think a lot of y'all set me up for failure because I'm going to come back and really I'm not going to make any difference," Pryce said. "I think the guys playing my position are doing a great job. I mean, look what they've done without me. They're the fifth-ranked defense in the league, and I'm not playing. So what do you think I'm going to do?"
At the very least, he can provide the Broncos another contributor in the team's defensive-line rotation. And while he has been listed as "out" on every injury report for well over two months, there is a possibility he might be upgraded to "doubtful" when the first injury report of this week is issued Wednesday.
"Yes, there is a chance," he said. "I think I'll know something Wednesday. I have to practice again, you know what I mean?
"So when I practice again Wednesday, they'll know a little more, because I practice and they watch the film. I guess when they saw Wednesday's practice (last week), they said, 'Oh yeah, he's out.'"
Pryce hasn't played since the Broncos last faced Kansas City on Sept. 12, when he slogged his way through 40 plays while battling the lower back pain that would eventually necessitate disc surgery.
A return in time for the rematch this Sunday could be possible, but might not be prudent, at least from Pryce's perspective.
"I don't think it's a good idea," he said. "But if I can keep my balance and run, I'll play. It was good for me to get back on the field, even if I might not play."
But when he practiced on the scout team for three days leading up to last Sunday's win over the Miami Dolphins, his balance improved from day to day.
"It was actually pretty encouraging for me because the first day (Wednesday, Dec. 8), I really couldn't keep my balance at all," he said. "The second day (Thursday, Dec. 9), I couldn't keep my balance on some plays. The third day (Friday, Dec. 10), I had some balance, I just couldn't run fast. So hopefully Wednesday I'll run a little bit more and just put everything together."
The issue is working into football shape. Pryce has been no stranger to strength and conditioning workouts since recovering from the late-September procedure on his back.
But getting in condition to actually play involves far more than that.
"When I first got in my stance, I was like, 'My stomach is touching my knees; this is not right.' You know, one of those things," Pryce said. "The balance improved because I had to get used to playing football again.
"When people say, 'You have to get in football shape,' that's very real. You can be fast and healthy and in great shape running sprints, but until you play football or basketball or tennis or whatever you do, you're not in shape. The only way you get in football shape is by playing football, period. End of story."
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Before the start of Denver's Sunday night game against Oakland Head Coach Mike Shanahan declared the following players inactive: Chris Young, Cecil Sapp, Jeff Shoate, Jashon Sykes, Cornell Green, Darius Holland, Trevor Pryce and Luther Elliss. The game began with snow on the field and it fell throughout the game. The temperature at kickoff was 17 degrees and the wind chill made it feel like it was 7 degrees. The Raiders won the coin toss and received the opening kickoff.
Micah Knorr's kickoff was caught by Doug Gabriel at the goal line and returned to the 20 for Oakland's offense to begin from. The Raiders advanced to Denver's 40-yard line but Al Wilson made a statement for the Broncos when he slammed the door on an airborne Tyrone Wheatley on 4th-and-inches to give the ball to Denver's offense on downs.
The Broncos had marched inside Oakland's 30 on their first drive, but Reuben Droughns fumbled Jake Plummer's handoff and Raiders safety Marques Anderson recovered the ball at his own 30 giving the visitors the first takeaway of the game.
Knorr's first punt of the game almost resulted in Denver getting the ball back when it fell to the ground and then bounced of return man Phillip Buchanon. Both Mike Leach and Kenoy Kennedy had opportunities to recover the loose ball but it was Jarrod Cooper who came up with it to escape danger at his own 14-yard line.
After three straight three-and-outs, (two by Denver, one by Oakland), the Raiders threatened with 6:55 remaining as Sebastian Janikowski tried a 48-yard field goal. But, the kick missed to the right giving the Broncos the ball at their 38-yard line.
On their next possession, Denver would not be denied as Jason Elam booted a 32-yard field goal with a major assist from Knorr on the hold as the snap was high. The kick capped a nine-play, 48-yard drive that spanned 5:01 and gave Denver a 3-0 lead. Denver ran the ball six plays and threw twice on their way to the score. Droughns carried the ball five times for 24 yards and Garrison Hearst added a two-yard rush. Plummer also threw to Darius Watts for 19 yards on 3rd-and-7 and Kyle Johnson made a three-yard reception.
The first touchdown of the game came shortly thereafter when Plummer connected with Rod Smith for an 85-yard scoring pass to open a 10-0 lead with 45 seconds left in the half. The Broncos got the ball back after a three-and-out by Oakland and didn't waste any time as the two-play drive took 18 seconds. The pass was the longest of Plummer's career as well as the longest reception of Smith's career. It also was the eighth-longest scoring pass in franchise history.
Oakland would not go quietly as it responded with a 42-yard touchdown pass from Kerry Collins to Jerry Porter to cut the lead to 10-7 just 28 second later. The Raiders had taken a few shots downfield earlier in the game and this time they connected as the pass eluded John Lynch and Champ Bailey to complete a quick, three-play drive that covered 51 yards.
The teams had played a scoreless half for the first 28 minutes before combining to put up 17 points in the final two minutes in the wintery conditions.
Denver opened the second half with the ball, but it was a short possession as Droughns put the ball on the ground again and for the second time it was recovered by Oakland when Charles Woodson scooped it up at the Broncos 36-yard line. Two plays later, Collins hit Porter on a 14-yard pass for the receiver's second touchdown of the game and a 13-10 lead for the visitors. Janikowski's extra point was blocked by Monsanto Pope keeping the deficit within field goal range at three points.
Denver got its first takeaway of the game when Oakland running back Justin Fargas caught a screen pass from Collins but lost the ball when Kelly Herndon hit him and Donnie Spragan recovered the ball at the Raiders 26-yard line. Denver then immediately squandered the opportunity it had been given on the next play when Plummer made a terrific play to elude two Oakland would-be tacklers, but threw an interception as he was trying to find Smith in the end zone. The pass was picked by Ray Buchanan and returned to the Raiders 37-yard line. Denver's third turnover of the game would not lead to Oakland points as the defense forced a Shane Lechler punt.
Ashley Lelie continued his penchant for making long receptions as he caught a 57-yard pass from Plummer on the first play of the quarter over former Broncos cornerback Denard Walker. Walker had fallen down before Lelie made the catch and the receiver himself dove to snare the ball, then had the presence of mind to get up and run to the Oakland 3-yard line where Walker caught him. On the next play Droughns made up for one of his earlier fumbles by punching the ball into the end zone to put the Broncos back on top at 17-13. The scoring drive took six plays, travelled 83 yards and lasted 3:16.
In another quick sequence of events, Denver pushed its lead to 24-13 when Ellis Johnson intercepted a Collins pass and returned it 32 yards the other way for his first NFL touchdown. On the first play of his team's drive Collins' pass was batted at the line of scrimmage by Monsanto Pope and the ball bounced to Johnson who made a one-handed grab before taking off for the end zone. In the span of sixty seconds Denver had gone from being down 13-10 to up 24-13.
The see-saw nature of the action continued when the Raiders came back with a 52-yard completion from Collins to Porter down the middle allowing Oakland to set up shop with a first-and-goal from Denver's 8-yard line. A 5-yard pass to tight end Doug Jolley set up 2nd-and-goal from the 3. Collins went for Gabriel in the corner of the end zone as Willie Middlebrooks was there to defend and knock the pass away, but he was flagged for pass interference, putting the visitors on the 1-yard line with a first down. The Raiders wanted to run the ball from here but wound up shooting themselves in the foot. On first down, Collins turned to hand the ball off, but lost control of it and it squirted out to Denver's 12 where Marco Coleman downed him. Then the first-round draft pick, tackle Robert Gallery, was whistled for a false start penalty which put Oakland in a 2nd-and-18 situation from the 18. Collins dropped back to pass, threw for the end zone where the Broncos made their second takeaway of the game as John Lynch picked off the pass at the 1-yard line to end the Oakland threat.
This game had now turned into a classic rivalry matchup between the clubs and Oakland made it tighter when it rebounded after its miscues to score another touchdown when Ronald Curry made a one-handed catch in the back of the end zone from Collins for another score. The Raiders tried for a two-point conversion, but they were unsuccessful and the score was 24-19 with 6:11 left to play. Oakland moved 41 yards in four plays over 1:49 to make it a five-point game.
The Raiders took the lead back with less than two minutes remaining when Collins threw his third touchdown pass to Jerry Porter. The 5-yard strike put Oakland up 25-24 as they were unable to make the two-point conversion.
Denver got the ball back and moved downfield to the Raiders 24-yard line and put themselves in position to win as Elam strode onto the field. With 31 seconds remaining and on fourth down he attempted a 43-yard field goal, but the kick was blocked by Langston Walker and fell well short, thus sealing the win for Oakland.
Monday, November 22, 2004
Traditionally, the team's' running game is at its best late in the season. In the last seven regular-season games of 2003, the Broncos rushed for an average of 195.7 yards. With RB Reuben Droughns running hard and the line in sync, this year should be no different. The running game is crucial because it sets up Jake Plummer's play-action passes and allows him to roll outside the pocket, where he's most productive.
TE Jeb Putzier is a player to watch. He's gaining Plummer's confidence as a downfield receiver, is deceptively fast and has terrific hands. His blocking has improved, and his routes have become more precise. If he is more of a factor, it will help open up the passing game.
Jimmy Spencer was promoted to defensive backs coach, replacing David Gibbs. A player-coach last year, Spencer retired as a player before the season.
Monday, November 08, 2004
The defense isn't forcing enough turnovers, and QB Jake Plummer has 10 interceptions after throwing seven all of last season. Plummer has put up some big numbers but hasn't always played smart football. Opposing quarterbacks are picking on the cornerback opposite Champ Bailey, whether it's Kelly Herndon or Lenny Walls. With LE Trevor Pryce (back) sidelined, the pass rush has become anemic. RE Raylee Johnson and RT Luther Ellis have played well at times, but Pryce's push off the edge is missed. The lack of a pass rush is one reason turnovers have been infrequent.
Sunday, October 17, 2004
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
While the offense sputtered Sunday, Jake Plummer and company did just enough thanks to a strong defensive effort in beating the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16-13. Plummer threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Hape and Jason Elam kicked three field goals, the last of which snapped a 13-13 tie midway through the fourth quarter. The defense limited Tampa Bay to just one touchdown on a play in which former Bucs safety John Lynch failed to knock down receiver Michael Clayton, who was getting up off the ground. "It's a shame. Ultimately the responsibility lays on me. I've got to tackle him," said Lynch, who had an emotional return to Tampa Bay. "There's a new league emphasis. If they're laying down and you hit them, you're going to get 15 yards. I tried to do the right thing for the first time in my career and keep (the NFL) out of my pocket, and I get burned."
Monday, September 27, 2004
Plummer completed 25 of 36 passes for 294 yards with two touchdowns, a long of 33 and a quarterback rating of 112.5, his best statistical line of the season. Smith caught five of those passes for 75 yards, averaging 15 yards-per-catch and a long of 32 to go with one score. Lelie caugth four passes for 67 yards, averaging 16.8 yards-per-catch and had a long of 33, which was his touchdown. Jeb Putzier also chipped in with five receptions of his own, for 66 yards, averaging 13.2 yards-per-catch and a long of 24. On the ground, Griffin led the team in carries with 12, but it was only for seven yards, a 0.6 yards-per-rush average with a long of six. Garrison Hearst gained the most yards with 13 on three carries for a 4.3 average and a long of 11.
Droughns had an excellent night on kickoff returns by taking four for 137 yards, a 34.3 average-per-return and a long of 48 to help set up Denver's final field goal. On punt returns, Smith had only one fair catch as one punt was downed, one went out-of-bounds and three went for touchbacks.
The defense kept the ever-dangerous LaDainian Tomlinson under wraps by yielding only 60 yards on 22 carries for a 2.7 yards-per-rush average and a long of 16.
Denver gained 328 total net yards of offense to the 214 put up by San Diego. The Broncos gained 291 yards through the air and only 37 on the ground compared to the 129 in the air by the Chargers and 85 on the ground. Denver's rushing total was the fewest number of yards gained on the ground since the club was held to 35 yards against the Chiefs in a 15-7 loss at Arrowhead Stadium on Sept. 20, 1993.
Denver went two-for-11 on third down, an 18 percent conversion rate while San Diego was six-for-15, a 40 percent success rate. The Broncos were one-for-one on fourth down while the Chargers did not have an attempt.
The Broncos had their best game in terms of penalties by committing only three for 25 yards while the visitors were called for six for 61 yards.
For the first time this year the Broncos lost the time of possession battle, 30:45 to 29:15.
The Broncos will now go back on the road as they travel to Tampa Bay to play the Buccaneers as John Lynch returns to the place where he spent the first 11 years of his career. The Broncos and Bucs will square off at 4:15 p.m. (EDT) at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 3 with CBS broadcasting the game.
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Sunday, September 05, 2004
It's quite obvoius that Specials Teams needs to be tweaked in order to have a successful season. Now, I'm ready for some real football: let's get this show on the road!
Sunday, August 29, 2004
Denver's 31-17 win over Houston was overshadowed when Mike Anderson was injured on a punt play late in the fourth quarter. "He felt the groin pop," Mike Shanahan said...
"He felt his groin pop." Ouch. That's why I watch rather than play... well, I don't play for a few other reasons, but this is neither the time or the place to delve into all that.
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
For Watts and Other Rookies, It's Time to Get Used to a Regular-Season Routine
By Andrew Mason
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The fact that the Broncos practiced with far more players than they will use in the regular season -- 89, to be exact, with the Monday addition of linebacker Riall Johnson -- meant that in one respect, Monday's work was little different than what the team faced for the previous three and a half weeks.
BRONCOS TV: A LOOK BACK AT THE WIN OVER SEATTLE
But the hundreds of spectators who attended the practice sessions were gone, along with the bleachers in which many of them sat. So too were the phalanx of television cameras that documented every snap of training-camp practice.
Most importantly for the players, two-a-days are a thing of the past -- at least until training camp begins anew next summer.
"Maybe I can get home before six o'clock," said tight end Byron Chamberlain.
"It's great," fellow tight end Jeb Putzier added. "We're all excited to be home, maybe in time to watch Friends or something. You can study at home, you get a chance to hang out and have a home-cooked meal."
But as wide receiver Darius Watts discovered, studying at home isn't enough. When he arrived, there were a few new wrinkles that he had to absorb in time for the afternoon session.
"They gave us a couple of new plays today," he said. "We had to come out here and had to know them. So we had to get in there real quick and try to brainstorm and get it all in, try to make sure we didn't mess up."
In that respect, Monday became just like a Wednesday during the regular season, which is exactly what Head Coach Mike Shanahan wanted to convey to his team for the first of three practice sessions leading into Friday night's home preseason opener against the Houston Texans.
"What we try to do here is the same schedule we have during the season," Shanahan said. "It's a little different for some of the guys that haven't been here because they are not sure about our schedule during the season. So this first day is a little bit unusual with the film during the morning and the walk-throughs in the early afternoon, special teams practice and the way we go about our Wednesday practices, which is essentially what we did today."
PERFECTIONIST: During Saturday evening's win at Seattle, Denver's defense yielded just 183 yards, three points, allowed only one foray into its red zone (and another that reached the Broncos 20-yard-line) notched five sacks and allowed the Seahawks to control the football for just 21 minutes and 10 seconds.
That wasn't enough for defensive captain Al Wilson, who assessed the defense with all the sympathy of a college professor bent upon vengeance.
"I'd give us about a C, C-plus," Wilson said. "We're working. It looked good on TV, but it's not what we want it to be. There's still some things we can clean up on the defensive side of the ball and we're trying to improve in those areas."
The three points conceded to a team with a highly touted offense is a sterling effort, but Wilson believes that the defense could have allowed more based on its errors -- which included 62 yards' worth of penalties on six infractions -- three for holding, two for illegal contact and one 36-yard infraction for pass interference, whistled against rookie Roc Alexander on the fifth play of the fourth quarter.
"We made a few mistakes here and there," Wilson said. "Not costly mistakes, but mistakes that we feel can definitely be changed and we can make a difference in the football game. Those are big plays that we could have made. We're just going to try to continue to improve."
BELL AT WORK: Shanahan held Tatum Bell out of work Saturday night, but the rookie running back was back on the field Monday afternoon, resuming the work he began when he came back from surgery on Aug. 11.
A cast still protected his right middle finger as he went through his on-field work.
"You can't take the cast off," Shanahan said. "He's not going to have that off for a while. I'm not even sure when he's supposed to get it off. But he's feeling a little bit more comfortable with it. He's starting to run better, and he's starting to catch the ball with it."
As far as determining who the team's running back will be, the game remains afoot.
"There is a lot of competition right there," Shanahan said. "We have to get a pecking order. 'Q' (Quentin Griffin) has been playing extremely well. I think we know what Mike Anderson and Garrison Hearst have done. We haven’t seen Tatum, and we've got a little idea of (Ahmaad) Galloway and (Santonio) Beard, but it’s great to get this extra game to get to evaluate them.”
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
After suffering a 20-17 loss to Washington in the Hall of Fame Game, the Broncos were downed once again, this time at the hands of the Buffalo Bills. The Broncos' offensive struggles continued as starter Jake Plummer went 3-of-11 for 40 yards, had two INTs and sacked twice in the team's 16-6 loss to the Bills. "It's about making plays. We didn't do that during the first two series," Plummer said. "Throwing two interceptions is one of the worst ways to start a game." The Broncos find themselves down 0-2 in preseason action. Next up is Seattle on Saturday
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Denver released its first 2004 depth chart Monday morning, and amidst all the names and placements, the one that jumped out was Roc Alexander's status as second-team right cornerback, right behind Kelly Herndon and ahead of fifth-round pick Jeff Shoate, who sits on the third team, and third-round selection Jeremy LeSueur, who is listed on the fourth string.
The depth chart is affected by Lenny Walls' absence as he recovers from ankle surgery he underwent last week. But Alexander has shown some solid play in the past few days. For him, the second-team placement wasn't cause to pause; he simply saw it and continued on his way.
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
A beginning ... and an end?
On the eve of Denver's 45th training camp, the Broncos decided to make a crucial roster change. Linebacker John Mobley, who has been with Denver since he entered the league in 1996, was released after he failed a physical. Mobley, 31, has not fully recovered from a neck injury he suffered Oct. 26 during a game against Baltimore. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan says the team has not completely cut ties with Mobley. "If six months to a year from now he feels like he is ready to go, then we will assess him then," Shanahan said. In 1997, the season in which Denver first won a Super Bowl, Mobley was named first-team All-NFL by the Associated Press, The Sporting News, Pro Football Weekly and Football Digest