Broncos Update Inside Slant, Monday, August 9

When Ashley Lelie missed some practice time last week with a sore back, the Broncos got a look at one of their worst-case scenarios for this season. If either Lelie or Rod Smith misses any significant time because of an injury, most of the depth behind them is unproven. Read more in today's edition of Broncos Update Inside Slant.

When Ashley Lelie missed some practice time last week with a sore back, the Broncos got a look at one of their worst-case scenarios for this season. If either Lelie or Rod Smith misses any significant time because of an injury, most of the depth behind them is unproven.

Denver's lack of depth at receiver was of the reasons the Broncos were interested in Tim Brown when he was released by the Raiders. Second-round pick Darius Watts has impressed during camp and quickly established himself as the top option after Lelie and Smith, but he needs to add strength and is unproven.

None of the Broncos' other backup receivers are guaranteed a roster spot. Charlie Adams and Nate Jackson have been in Denver's system as practice squad players, but neither has caught a pass in a regular-season game. Adrian Madise was impressive during minicamps as a rookie last season but hasn't done much to distinguish himself since. Willie Jackson, a former 1,000-yard receiver with the Saints, was out of football last season. Sixth-round pick Triandos Luke has made some plays in practice, but has made some rookie mistakes as well.

"You can see a lot of inconsistency out there," offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak said. "One day they'll make a lot of plays, and the next day ... you know. (Who makes the team) is going to be who gets consistent and who makes these plays in a (preseason) game."


The Broncos break camp Aug. 20. They have one extra public practice at Invesco Field at Mile High on Aug. 29. That will be the third practice held at Invesco Field, as the team tried to get as many fans as possible to their training camp practices.


Broncos S John Lynch was invited to the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony last Sunday, but not by fellow Stanford alum and former Broncos QB John Elway. Former Lions RB Barry Sanders, whom Lynch faced twice a season in the NFC Central when Lynch was with Tampa Bay, sent the invitation, surprising Lynch.

--Undrafted rookie DT Brandon Kennedy, listed at 5-10, 315 pounds, stands a head shorter than just about everyone in the Broncos' defensive huddle, but he has made some plays in camp and the coaches like his work ethic. Kennedy, whose brother Kenoy is a starting safety for the Broncos, made one of the most unusual plays in camp, diving to bat down a pass when he dropped into coverage as part of a zone blitz.

--Mike Shanahan laughed when he was asked if he was looking forward to seeing Redskins RB Clinton Portis, whom Shanahan traded this offseason, during the Hall of Fame Game last Monday. "Yeah, we are going to have a beer," Shanahan said with a smile. Shanahan said later that he was fond of Portis and wished him well.


"When you think of Hall of Fame, you think of a guy like John Elway, not me." -- C Tom Nalen, a five-time Pro Bowler, on his Hall of Fame chances.



D.J. Williams vs. Donnie Spragan. Spragan entered training camp as Denver's starting weak-side linebacker, but it didn't take long for Williams to start pushing him for the spot. Williams, Denver's first-round pick this year, worked with the first-team defense most of last week.

Defensive coordinator Larry Coyer insisted Williams was inserted with the starters just to allow the coaches to evaluate him against the same competition Spragan faced the first week of camp, and that Spragan was still the starter. But Williams has the talent to crack the starting lineup and nobody will be surprised if he starts the regular season opener.

"I just look at (working with the starters) as coach giving me my shot," Williams said. "To see how I react and how I gel with the first-teamers."


Terry Pierce, who is playing outside linebacker for the first time since he started playing football, is pushing strong-side linebacker Jashon Sykes for a starting spot. Pierce dropped about 20 pounds this offseason so he could make the position switch. Pierce was drafted in the second round of the 2003 draft as a middle linebacker in case the Broncos didn't retain free agent Al Wilson this past offseason. But the team re-signed Wilson and Pierce had to switch positions so he could have a chance to get on the field.


QB Matt Mauck, a seventh-round pick, has been one of the pleasant surprises of camp. The organization loves Mauck's arm, athleticism, maturity and intelligence. He has looked like a veteran running Denver's offense in practice. ... CB Jeremy LeSueur, a third-round pick, struggled early in camp. He is adjusting to playing man-to-man defense after playing mostly zone in college, but said he feels he's improving. LeSueur is behind fifth-round pick Jeff Shoate and undrafted free agent Roc Alexander on the depth chart. ... C Josh Sewell, a sixth-round pick, hasn't been able to overtake Chris Watton as Tom Nalen's primary backup. ... FB Brandon Miree has gotten extra reps with second-year FB Cecil Sapp out of practice because of a hamstring injury since the first day of camp. Miree is a long shot to make the 53-man roster but he could land on the practice squad.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK CB Roc Alexander. Alexander grew up in Colorado Springs as a Broncos fan and when Denver called him after he wasn't selected in April's draft, he didn't wait for a second offer. Although Alexander was buried behind plenty of veterans when he signed, he had unexpectedly moved up to the second team by the time Denver released its first depth chart about a week into camp. Alexander battled injuries through his college career at Washington, but he said he's as healthy as he has been since before his freshman season with the Huskies and he's playing well in camp.

"I have nothing to lose, really," Alexander said. "I'm a free agent, so I have nothing to lose and I'm just going to come out and play my hardest."


The Broncos don't know exactly when CB Lenny Walls will return from arthroscopic surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right ankle. Walls could miss the entire preseason, although Shanahan said he hoped Walls could return and play in at least one of Denver's final two preseason games. Walls insisted he'd be ready for the regular season opener. ... DT Luther Elliss has a nagging hamstring injury that has kept him out of almost all of training camp. The injury isn't considered serious, but Elliss has had a tough time staying healthy the past few years. ... DT Dorsett Davis, a 2002 third-round pick, is out for the season after having surgery to repair a torn tendon in his left pinkie finger. Davis has had very little impact for the Broncos since he was drafted. ... FB Cecil Sapp hasn't practiced since the first day of training camp because of a hamstring injury, and he now faces long odds to make the team.

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