Broncos Update Inside Slant - December 9

Check out the Broncos report card for the Chiefs game as well as all the latest personnel news and notes, quotes and ancedotes in today's Broncos Update Inside Slant.

As expected, Daryl Gardener's season is over. The Broncos placed the controversial defensive tackle on injured reserve-non football injury on Monday so Gardener can work on some personal problems. Neither his agent nor coach Mike Shanahan would discuss those, and while Gardener has expressed interest in returning to the club next year, that appears unlikely.

"We still have his rights. I'll address that at the end of the season, talk to his agent, make a decision down the road," Shanahan said.

Gardener burned ties to the Broncos when he lashed out at Shanahan on a radio interview after being suspended for slacking off in practice and in games.

Gardener, who received a $3 million bonus up front as part of a seven-year, $34.7 million deal, will go down as one of the Broncos' biggest free-agent busts. He played in only a few games after an off-the-field fracas left him with a serious wrist injury, and he had just 15 tackles. The Broncos showed they can win without Gardener, and it's doubtful the players would welcome him back in light of his attitude.


--DT Daryl Gardener was placed on injured reserve/non football on Monday, meaning his season is done. Gardener's agent said his client needs to address some personal issues but still holds out hope of returning to the team. Don't count on it.

--FB Mike Anderson returned Monday from his four-game substance-abuse suspension, and could step back into the starting job if Reuben Droughns cant play because of an ankle injury. If Anderson isn't in shape, the job will go to Patrick Hape, who has been practicing there.

--FB Reuben Droughns has a severe ankle sprain but the good news is an MRI was negative. He is still on crutches, but he hasn't ruled out playing Sunday.

--DE Reggie Hayward has a first to second degree A/C sprain and his status is questionable for Sunday's game. He is a major part of Denver's defensive line rotation, but much will depend on the soreness and how the injury restricts him.

--CB Scott Turner has a second-degree MCL tear and also is questionable. More will be known later in the week. Turner is only a reserve in the secondary but he is a gunner on Denver's special teams.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't give a damn what the stats say, I don't care who's done what... The last two weeks, he's the best back in the NFL." -- wide receiver Rod Smith on Clinton Portis, who has rushed for 165, 170 and 218 yards in successive weeks.


PASSING OFFENSE: A -- Jake Plummer played his best game as a Bronco on Sunday, completed 20 of 29 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown. It helped that the Chiefs were so fearful of Clinton Portis that they didn't cover Plummer on his bootlegs and rollouts, and left receivers wide open. But Plummer was sharp, and he would have had even bigger numbers had Ashley Lelie not dropped a wide-open pass thrown deep.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- The offensive line is on a roll, and so is Clinton Portis. He produced the third-best rushing day (218 yards) in franchise history and his five rushing touchdowns were a franchise record. Portis always has the great moves and this time he showed great finishing speed to score on those long TD runs.

PASS DEFENSE: C -- The Chiefs were unstoppable in the first half, with Trent Green passing for 200 yards, and Priest Holmes turning little dumpoffs and screens into good gainers. But the Broncos got after green in the second half, and did a better job with the coverage. Green passed for 397 yards but when it counted, they shut him down.

RUSH DEFENSE: A-minus -- Priest Holmes managed just 44 yards on 12 carries, thanks to a defense that grew tougher as the day went on. He scored two touchdowns, but he had to fight for those yards.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Survival was the key here with Dante Hall on the field. Though he broke a 61-yard kickoff return to set up a touchdown, he was held in check the rest of the day. The Broncos used pretty much the same strategy as the first meeting, they just executed better. Micah Knorr kicked both punts out of bounds, and booted two kickoffs into the end zone.

COACHING: A-- The Broncos instilled in Jake Plummer the need to step up the passing game and he came through. Also Shanahan kept his players from getting too hyped up over the Kennison war of words.

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