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."
5 years ago