Spotlight now on linebackers

With Terry Pierce added to the injury list, the Denver Broncos are critically short on linebackers. Read about the plans for the position in today's news reports.

Denver defense rescuing offense - Denver Post - Bill Williamson
Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - Kenoy Kennedy saw something Sunday night that will stick with him and his defensive teammates. When the need arose, the Broncos' defense made up for the Broncos' offensive miscues. On the third play of the preseason game at Buffalo, the sluggish Denver offense put the defense in an unenviable position when the Bills took over at the Broncos' 22-yard line, sponsored by an interception on a tipped pass from Jake Plummer intended for Ashley Lelie.

Spragan playing key role - Denver Post - Patrick Saunders
Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - Broncos linebacker Donnie Spragan, No. 59: "Yes, injuries have set us back a little bit, but once we get everybody together, this unit is going to do some big things." Linebacker Donnie Spragan's versatility is not only valuable, it has become vital to the Broncos' wounded defense. With outside linebackers Terry Pierce and Jashon Sykes out of action the next few weeks because of knee injuries, Spragan must be ready to play the weak side or the strong side at a moment's notice.

'Basics' basically nil - Rocky Mountain News - Jeff Legwold
August 17, 2004 - The Denver Broncos have had some interceptions, they've had plenty of dropped passes and they've had more than their share of struggles on offense in two preseason games. But they say they have not had to resort to the worry beads. Not yet, anyway. "Sure, it was a little bit of a concern when we lost our first (preseason game)," wide receiver Ashley Lelie said. "It's the preseason. It doesn't hurt our chances of getting to the Super Bowl, and that's our main goal." That's the Broncos' refrain at the moment, that "it's the preseason."

Broncos camp report, August 17 - Rocky Mountain News - Jeff Legwold
August 17, 2004 - The Broncos players did not practice Monday, but each one did have to get in a workout before they could enjoy what remained of a day off. Players who needed treatment also were required to see the team's medical staff. Cornerback Lenny Walls, who underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair an ankle injury in the first week of training camp, is out of the protective walking boot and worked with strength and conditioning coach Rich Tuten on the field Monday afternoon.

With LB injuries, Rutledge in spotlight - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
August 17, 2004 - Paging Johnny Rutledge ... Mr. Johnny Rutledge? After two preseason games, the Denver Broncos have lost their top two strong-side linebackers. Jashon Sykes sustained a sprained medial collateral ligament in the Hall of Fame Game against Washington on Aug. 9, and Terry Pierce did the same on Sunday night during the 16-6 loss to Buffalo. With both players out three to four weeks, Rutledge — who has started four games in a five-year NFL career spent mostly with Arizona — is next up on the depth chart. Donnie Spragan, the starting weak-side linebacker, is capable of switching sides and starting this Saturday's preseason game at Seattle at either position.

Broncos-Bills Notebook: First-Rate for the First-Team Defense - DenverBroncos.com - Andrew Mason
Monday, August 16, 2004 - It took Broncos Head Coach Mike Shanahan less than two seconds to begin lavishing praise upon Denver's first-string defensive unit at his post-game press conference, and with good reason. Denver's defense held the opponent without a touchdown for a second consecutive game, and did so despite the Bills boasting an average drive-start position at the Denver 41-yard-line, thanks to a pair of interceptions and a three-and-out series.

Broncos concerned over dropped passes - Mercury News - Frank Schwab
Mon, Aug. 16, 2004 - Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan had a strong message about receivers who drop passes after Sunday's 16-6 exhibition loss at Buffalo. "The people that do (drop passes) usually don't stay with the team," Shanahan said. There was only one problem with Shanahan's threat. Many of the players dropping passes against Buffalo aren't in danger of falling off the roster. Byron Chamberlain, Ashley Lelie, Reuben Droughns and Darius Watts - all virtual locks to be on the field for Denver's regular-season opener Sept.12 - were among the culprits against the Bills. "We got guys dropping balls that don't usually drop balls," quarterback Jake Plummer said. "It concerns me because those guys shouldn't do it."

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