Unheralded reserves step up

With injuries to key starters such as linebacker Ian Gold and safety Kenoy Kennedy, reserves Donnie Spragen and Nick Ferguson have been asked to step up, and have responded. Read more about filling the gaps in today's news reports.

Broncos testing mettle - Denver Post - Patrick Saunders
Tuesday, October 14, 2003 - Broncos defensive coordinator Larry Coyer once described Ian Gold as a heat-seeking missile. When the starting weakside linebacker blew out his right knee during Sunday's victory over Pittsburgh, the Broncos lost one of their fastest, most powerful defensive weapons for the rest of the season.

Broncos' 5-1 start deceiving - Denver Post - Mark Kiszla
Tuesday, October 14, 2003 - Do not believe everything you read in the NFL standings. The Broncos ain't proved nothing yet. Oh, sure. That 5-1 record looks pretty. But, at the risk of being condemned as a heretic, the question needs to be asked: Is Denver living a lie?

Coyer's scheme sacks opponents - Denver Post - Mike Chambers and Patrick Saunders
Tuesday, October 14, 2003 - Broncos defensive end Trevor Pryce had good reason to laud his team's seven sacks, and the fact it limited the Pittsburgh Steelers to 215 total yards Sunday in Denver's 17-14 victory. The Steelers entered the game with the NFL's top-ranked defense, so bragging rights were at stake.

Tice: Culpepper now 'good to go' - Denver Post
Tuesday, October 14, 2003 - Minnesota quarterback Daunte Culpepper will return to the starting lineup Sunday when the unbeaten Vikings host the Broncos. Culpepper missed the Vikings' previous two games after breaking three small bones - and partially fracturing a fourth - in his lower back Sept. 21 against the Detroit Lions.

Rejects get respect - Rocky Mountain News - Lynn DeBruin
October 14, 2003 - If the Denver Broncos ever change uniform colors, they might want to consider green, with sew-on patches inscribed with "We Recycle." Just look at their defense, which is tied for second in the NFL heading into Denver's showdown Sunday with undefeated Minnesota and its No. 1-ranked offense.

Coyer praised as man with a plan - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer
October 14, 2003 - Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan gave a tip of the cap Monday to first-year defensive coordinator Larry Coyer, saying "he's done a great job overall." Denver's defense currently stands in a tie with Dallas for second overall in the league rankings, behind Pittsburgh.

Adams: Big and tall Walls a hurdle for Moss - Rocky Mountain News - Sam Adams
October 14, 2003 - Instead of a coin toss, they should have a jump ball at midfield at the Metrodome on Sunday between Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss and Denver Broncos cornerback Lenny Walls. Both stand 6-feet-4, so it will be one of the few times in his NFL career that Moss looks across the line of scrimmage and sees eye-to-eye with an opposing corner.

With Gold out, Spragan gets his chance to shine - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
October 14, 2003 - The NFL could negotiate its next television contract with the Discovery Channel. The cruel and brutal sport of football, especially at this level, is survival of the fittest. One man's injury is always another man's opportunity.

Even Tice downplays Vikings' perfect record - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
October 14, 2003 - The Minnesota Vikings are 5-0 and feeling fresh after a bye week. They are one of three remaining unbeaten teams in the NFL, along with Kansas City (6-0) and Carolina (5-0), and play their next three games at the Metrodome. But there are still skeptics — including their own head coach — who wonder just how good Minnesota is, considering the fact that the opponents it has beaten have a combined record of 8-16.

Reusse: O'Leary is the Vikings' man with the defensive plan - Minneapolis Star Tribune- Patrick Reusse
October 14, 2003 - Tony Dungy served as Dennis Green's defensive coordinator with the Vikings from 1992 through 1995. His defenses finished with overall ratings of Nos. 8, 1, 5 and 20. Dungy then went to Tampa Bay as head coach and turned around the losingest franchise in the NFL. Foge Fazio spent the next four seasons in charge of the Vikings defense. The overall ratings were Nos. 16, 29, 13 and 27. Fazio suffered from the Vikings' poor drafting of defensive players and free-agent losses. He escaped to Washington for 2000, then went to Cleveland before retiring after last season.

Culpepper passes to Moss for a gain without pain - St. Paul Pioneer Press - Bill Williamson
Tue, Oct. 14, 2003 - Daunte Culpepper positioned his hands underneath center Matt Birk. Randy Moss lined up on the outside. Culpepper dropped back. Moss sprinted toward the end zone. Culpepper effortlessly threw a bullet. Moss gracefully made a leaping catch. They're back — and without pain.

Tice conducts physical practice after bye week - St. Paul Pioneer Press - Bill Williamson
Tue, Oct. 14, 2003 - It didn't take Vikings coach Mike Tice long to get his team back into a playing mode after working just one day during the bye week. After a practice that ran 35 minutes long, Tice said Monday's workout was the team's most physical since Sept. 1, six days before the Vikings' season-opening, 30-25 victory at Green Bay.

Monday Notebook: Spragan Steps In - DenverBroncos.com - Andrew Mason
Monday, October 13, 2003 - A day after a torn right anterior cruciate ligament brought a premature end to linebacker Ian Gold's fourth NFL season, Denver's defenders sympathized for their fallen teammate, but rallied around Donnie Spragan, the backup who filled in admirably for Gold with 12 total tackles in relief duty against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In other words, Spragan did exactly what was expected.

s Ferguson: Ready for His Close-Up - DenverBroncos.com - Andrew Mason
Monday, October 13, 2003 - When the Broncos' free-agent acquisitions of the 2003 offseason were discussed by most observers of the club, only two names typically came up -- Jake Plummer and Daryl Gardener, the two who joined the team before the signing period was even a week old. Those names were cited and analyzed, and then another subject arose.

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