Broncos Update Inside Slant - December 23

Mike Shanahan guaranteed that Jake Plummer had a "big future" in Denver, and the fiery, scrambling quarterback continues to prove him right. Check out the Broncos report card for the Colts game as well as all the latest personnel news and notes, quotes and ancedotes in today's Broncos Update Inside Slant.

Mike Shanahan guaranteed that Jake Plummer had a "big future" in Denver, and the fiery, scrambling quarterback continues to prove him right. Few thought Plummer could play better than he did against the Kansas City Chiefs two weeks ago (20 of 29 for 238 yards and a touchdown), but his performance Sunday night in a frenzied RCA Dome was gutsy and complete.

Most of all, he showed a resiliency that was lacking in Brian Griese, bouncing back from a first-pass interception to lead Denver on four consecutive touchdown drives in the first half. Afterward he sported what looked to be the beginnings of a black eye. If nothing else Plummer continues to show what a fighter he is.

"It (stunk) to be down 7 (after the interception), but it's a long game. I knew our defense would play well and that I'd bounce back," Plummer said.

To think he started the season with three picks and a lowly 21.6 passer rating against Cincinnati. Through 15 games, he has 15 touchdowns and 7 interceptions -- by far the best ratio of his seven-year career. His completion percentage (62.6) is nearly 5 points higher than his career best (57.9).

"It really spoke volumes about him," Shanahan said of Plummer bouncing back. "He had that adversity early and to just shake it off and play the way he played is very impressive. Unless you look at the film, you don't realize how many big-time plays he made."


--DT Darius Holland has bruised ribs but will have additional x-rays to determine if there is anything more serious. He was quite sore after the game, and likely will sit out Sunday's finale to get ready for the playoffs.

--CB Kelly Herndon broke the metatarsal bone in his hand and was fitted with a cast, which likely will keep him out of the Green Bay game. Herndon no doubt will try to play in the playoffs but it remains to be seen how effective he'll be playing with a cast.

--WR Ashley Lelie suffered a minor shoulder sprain but returned to finish Sunday's game. He's another player that could benefit from resting this week.

--FS Nick Ferguson had surgery Monday on his broken left wrist, an injury that will knock him out for the playoffs. Sam Brandon, who lost his job to Ferguson earlier this year, steps in.

--RB Clinton Portis continues to receive treatment for his high ankle sprain and coaches couldn't say whether Portis and a number of starters would be given time to rest this week rather than play Green Bay.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I really don't want to speculate. I've been in this situation before. We'll have a game plan going and once I decide about that game plan I'll share it with you." -- Coach Mike Shanahan on whether it's wise to rest some starters in the season finale since Denver has locked up a wild-card spot.



PASSING OFFENSE: A-minus -- Take away Jake Plummer's first pass which was intercepted and returned 31 yards for a touchdown, and he was practically perfect. He didn't throw often (just 17 times) but when he did he did some damage (14 completions, 238 yards and a TD). His biggest play went for 60 yards to Ashley Lelie, but that wasn't his best play. He also tossed a pretty 15-yard fade to Rod Smith for a TD and escaped two defenders closing in on him to get off a 23-yard pass to Ed McCaffrey.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- It doesn't get any better than this, especially with star back Clinton Portis and right guard sidelined by injury. Denver's offensive dominated up front, controlling the line of scrimmage and the clock, and rookie Quentin Griffin showed Portis-like moves on the fast turf. Mike Anderson also shared the workload, while the Broncos got some help blocking from Reuben Droughns and Patrick Hape. Plummer continued to show cat-like quickness, and determination, bypassing every opportunity to slide on his scrambles.

PASS DEFENSE: A-minus -- Marvin Harrison hauled in one bomb, for 63 yards, but other than that cornerback Lenny Walls did a great job of keeping him in check. With Denver confusing Peyton Manning with plenty of different looks, the Pro Bowl quarterback struggled. He had a season-low 146 passing yards and also was sacked twice. Granted, Manning had a few near misses to his receivers, but part of that may have been the big hits provided by Denver's secondary.

RUSH DEFENSE: A -- Edgerrin James averaged 4.2 yards a carry but he carried only 10 times as Denver controlled the clock, then built a 14-point lead. The Broncos made sure tackles and clogged the running lanes.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- Punter Micah Knorr only punted once but it was a dandy, downed at the Colts 1-yard line. Denver also blocked another punt, and limited the Colts to just 28.2 yards on six kickoff returns. Place-kicker Jason Elam, meanwhile, made his only attempt from 24 yards out.

COACHING: A -- To say coaches had the Broncos ready to play was an understatement. And give Mike Shanahan credit for sticking to his script, which called for a bomb to Lelie early even though Plummer was picked off on his first pass attempt. It also proved wise to rest Portis and Neil and get them healthy for the playoffs, and to trust in rookie Griffin, whose running style is suitable for turf.

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