Bell breaks finger during first day at camp

Rookie running back Tatum Bell fractures the middle finger on his right hand, leaving his status with the Broncos in serious doubt.

Following a three-day holdout rookie Running Back Tatum Bell was anxious to put all the negativity surrounding his contract negotiations behind him and join his teammates at Training Camp at Dove Valley.

That enthusiasm was short lived however as a collision with a teammate's helmet fractured the middle finger of his right hand, sidelining the rookie indefinately.

"It all depends on how bad it is," Shanahan said. "You never know if he's going to have pins put in it or do they just set it in a splint, how long it will be. Those are questions I can't answer at this time."

Team doctors were scheduled to assess the extent of the injury on Saturday evening but preliminary x-rays taken at Invesco Field confirmed the fracture.

"It's all different when you've got a fracture, which looks like it's a pretty good fracture," Shanahan said. "I hate to say one way or another until I talk with the doctors."

Should the injury require surgery Bell could be sidelined well into the first part of the 2004 season, Best case scenario would leave the former Oklahma standout on the outside for a minimum of two weeks, falling further down the depth chart behing the likes of Garrison Hearst, Quinten Griffin, Mike Anderson and Cecli Sapp.

Either way it's an extreeme dissapointment for both Bell and the Broncos coaching staff, especially head coach Mike Shanahan who met with Bell earlier in the day to try and put any hard feelings over the stalled contract negotiations behind them.

"It killed me every day just seeing the news and reading the newspapers," Bell told reporters. "My teammates are out here grinding it out, and I'm still at home in the bed, just chilling."

One day into his NFL future and it appears Bell will be once again at home, chilling. Fortunately for Bell, and unfortunately for Denver, it comes with the security of a signed contract.

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