Broncos Inside Slant

Read our weekly report on the Broncos with notes, quotes, anecdotes, player of the week, rookies to watch and all the latest personnel moves.

INSIDE SLANT John Mobley was reveling in the freedom Denver's new training camp setup allowed, while trying to assure reporters it wasn't an invitation to more trouble.

"We're back on lockdown now, clank, clank," he said.

Considering recent incidents involving Bronco players, he probably could have come up with a better choice of words. Off-the-field issues have clouded on-the-field status of no fewer than five players as training camp started.

Daryl Gardener, apparently provoked outside a Denver-area pancake house at 2 a.m. July 18, struck back and tore ligaments in his wrist. He and teammate Russell Newman were arrested, and now Denver's prized defensive acquisition is on the shelf for eight weeks.

"Any scenario is not good for him or us," said Bertrand Berry, the projected starter at right defensive end. "Missing that time in camp is crucial. He's getting used to guys around him; they're getting used to him. All of it equals bad.

The same might be said regarding the arrest of tight end Dwayne Carswell for domestic violence - his third such arrest in five years.

"Anytime there's a pattern, yes (you're concerned)," coach Mike Shanahan said.

But he insisted Carswell will get his day in court, just like linebacker John Mobley.

He faces a hearing next month on his second drunk-driving arrest in 3 1/2 years -- the most recent coming Dec. 28, the night before Denver's season finale.

"I've got a strong feeling for John Mobley, what type of guy he is and how he works. And he's going to get my support until the courts prove something different, and then we'll deal with it," Shanahan said.

Likewise, Shanahan stood behind his No. 2 defensive acquisition this offseason -- safety Lee Flowers, who was suspended the first four games because of ephedra use. Shanahan knew about the suspension but signed Flowers anyway, banking that he will be one more piece of the puzzle.

Then again, all the off-the-field issues could prove a distraction. And Shanahan might find his playoff hopes deflated like the team's practice bubble, which burst after being hit by a major gust of wind as camp opened.

CAMP CALENDAR: The Broncos will train in Dove Valley through Aug. 4, then leave Aug. 5 for Houston for joint workouts with the Texans before the preseason opener. They close camp Aug. 18.

NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES
--Mike Shanahan always preaches to his players not to retaliate. But he stood behind DT Daryl Gardener, who decided to pancake an antagonist outside a Denver-area pancake house July 18.

"I don't blame him for what he did," Shanahan said of the 305-pound Gardener, who told police and his agent he acted in self defense. "If anybody hit me or gave me a couple of cheap shots or sucker punches, I'd react just the way he did.

"I was disappointed he was there at that time of night (2 a.m.) to put himself in that situation. But the way he reacted is the way I think I would have reacted."

--There's no question the Broncos are trying to be politically correct in dealing with Terrell Davis, one of the most popular players in team history. He has played only 17 games in the past four seasons and missed all of last year with a knee injury, and is coming off microfracture surgery. But Mike Shanahan said the door is open if Davis wants to try to pass his physical at some later date.

"He doesn't want to retire, he wants to keep on working, keep that window open," Shanahan said after waiving Davis so he wouldn't take up a spot on the team's 80-man roster.

"How long is he going to keep that window open? I really don't know. I'm just hoping that he gets healthy regardless if he plays football or not, and he can walk around later on his life and feel good about his knees."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't know. You'd have to ask (owner) Pat Bowlen that question. Everybody can lose their job. All you've got to try to do is the best job you can." -- Shanahan on whether his job is on the line if things don't work out with new quarterback Jake Plummer.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Broncos released RB Terrell Davis on the eve of camp as he was not ready to pass his physical. He agreed not to take up a roster spot, but the door is open for him to try again later as he wants to finish his career as a Bronco. The odds of a return are very slim, however.

The Broncos, as expected, got all of their draft picks signed, even though some went right down to the wire.
First-round pick George Foster received $4.6 million up front in the form of signing bonus and option bonus payments on a $7.4 million deal over five years.
Second-round pick Terry Pierce signed a four-year deal worth $2.69 million, including a $1.32 million bonus.
Fourth-rounder Quentin Griffin signed a three-year deal.
Sixth-round pick Aaron Hunt got $971,000 over three years.
Seventh-rounder Ahmaad Galloway got $941,500 over three years, including a $31,000 signing bonus.

BATTLE OF THE WEEK: The left corner job may be contested all season. Kelly Herndon ran with the first string on Day 1, and came up with a few nice plays and interceptions. But 6-4 Lenny Walls got a shot with the 1s on Day 2, and he didn't disappoint.

OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: Speedy receiver Ashley Lelie was impressive as a rookie but he is looking even crisper now as he pushes Ed McCaffrey for the starting job. McCaffrey, however, shows no signs of offseason groin surgery. McCaffrey has the edge, and likely will start barring injury, but both will play a lot.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Jake Plummer got a big cheer from fans as he took the field for his first Bronco training camp, and after shaking off some early rust, is settling into the Broncos system. He has made a few mistakes trying to force the ball, only to be immediately reminded of his outlets. His mobility is without question, and he is learning to dump the ball off to impact players like Clinton Portis and Rod Smith.

ROOKIE REPORT: OT George Foster suffered a high-ankle sprain in his first practice and hasn't practiced since. ... LB Terry Pierce is showing the impact player he can be. ...RB Quentin Griffin suffered a major setback with the broken fibula and will miss most if not all of preseason. ... DE Nick Eason moved up the depth chart after injury to Daryl Gardener. ... DE Bryant McNeal is showing speed off end. ... WR Adrian Madise is solidly in the mix for the No. 4 receiving job. ... C Ben Claxton will only be a backup this year but he is showing his smarts and versatility. ... DE Aaron Hunt is battling for a roster spot. ... DE Clint Mitchell is showing his baggage may be worth the risk. ... RB Ahmaad Galloway looks much better than he did in mini-camp as his ACL/MCL injury is behind him.

INJURY REPORT: DT Daryl Gardener had surgery July 24 and is out 8 weeks with torn ligaments in his right wrist; RB Quentin Griffin broke his right fibula in the first practice and is out 4-6 weeks; RB KaRon Coleman broke his foot in offseason workouts and is out 6-8 weeks; OT George Foster has a high ankle sprain and is day-to-day.

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