Broncos Update Insider - Monday, September 21

After further review, Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said Quentin Griffin was probably looking at the gaping hole ahead of him when he fumbled a handoff that cost Denver a chance to beat Jacksonville.

Shanahan said after seeing film of Griffin's fumble, which came with less than a minute left and Denver in field-goal range losing 7-6, he thought the second-year back got a little too anxious to make a big play.

"I just think he got a little excited because that hole was so big," Shanahan said. "Usually you don't get holes that big."

Griffin took the blame for the play, saying the handoff from Jake Plummer was fine, he just fumbled it.

"I'm trying not to dwell on it but I let a lot of people down and I don't expect to do that again," Griffin said.

Although Griffin has lost two key fumbles in two weeks -- he also fumbled at the 1-yard line against Kansas City in Denver's first game -- Shanahan said Griffin's ball security wasn't an issue to be worried about yet.

Shanahan said Griffin let up a bit on the fumble against Kansas City because he thought he was going to score and lost the ball. Shanahan said he was too excited about the big hole in front of him against Jacksonville. Both plays Shanahan chalked up to a lack of experience on Griffin's part.

"I'm not concerned at all," Shanahan said. "The bottom line is you learn from your mistakes and you move on."

Griffin had problems outside of the fumble at the end. He gained only 66 yards on 25 carries and was stuffed twice on third down and one. But he doesn't appear to be in any danger of losing carries anytime soon.

"He'll be fine," Shanahan said. "He had some good runs in that game."

NOTES AND QUOTES

--DE Trevor Pryce said he would fly to California on Tuesday to get another medical opinion on a pinched nerve on a disc in his back. The injury is causing Pryce lower back pain and sapping the strength in his right leg. The Broncos traded a conditional 2005 draft pick on Monday to Atlanta for disgruntled defensive tackle Ellis Johnson as insurance in case Pryce misses some significant time.

Pryce was inactive on Sunday, the first game he has missed because of an injury since 1999.

"He was just saying he doesn't have the leg strength he normally has," coach Mike Shanahan said. "When Trevor says something like that, there's something wrong."

--Jacksonville defensive end Paul Spicer broke his leg on a Broncos running play, which left some of the Jaguars upset because they thought it might have been a chop block.

But the Broncos said on that play left tackle Matt Lepsis missed his block on Spicer, and fullback Reuben Droughns picked him up. Droughns knocked Spicer back and into Lepsis, who was trailing the play after missing his assignment. Spicer's leg got caught underneath Lepsis awkwardly, but the Broncos were adamant no harm was intended.

"I guess they thought it was a cheap shot on Paul Spicer, that we kind of cut him," Droughns said. "It wasn't nowhere near that."

"Anybody that watches film understands that was not intentional," Shanahan said.

--Shanahan faced some questions about why he didn't attempt a game-winning field goal on third down with less than a minute to go at Jacksonville. Griffin fumbled on third down and Jacksonville recovered.

But Shanahan said kicking on third down wouldn't have made much sense. Jacksonville had a time out remaining -- which Denver was trying to make them use after running a play on third down -- and would have had about 30 seconds remaining to get into field-goal range had Denver lined up and kicked the field goal on third down.

"I don't think it was a debate," Shanahan said. "I don't understand the logic behind it."

--RB Tatum Bell ran well in his limited opportunity as Quentin Griffin's backup last Sunday. Either Bell or Garrison Hearst, who was inactive against Jacksonville with a sprained ankle, could be a candidate to get short-yardage carries in the near future because Griffin struggled in that area against the Jaguars.

--TE Jeb Putzier had another quiet day with two catches for 12 yards and saw a lot less playing time on Sunday because the Broncos went with blockers Dwayne Carswell and Patrick Hape more often. Putzier still has the best hands among the tight ends and should get a lot of opportunities as the season goes on.

--DT Monsanto Pope got the starting nod on Sunday with Luther Elliss still being limited with a partially torn pectoral muscle and Trevor Pryce inactive and unable to play because of a pinched nerve in his back. Pope had a decent game, with a pair of tackles.

--DE Reggie Hayward started on Sunday against Jacksonville, and Shanahan confirmed that Hayward has been promoted ahead of veteran Raylee Johnson. Shanahan said Hayward, who was demoted in training camp, outplayed Johnson in Denver's first game and earned the start.

--CB Lenny Walls was supposed to miss four games after dislocating his shoulder in Denver's first game, but Shanahan didn't rule out Walls coming back in Week 4 after missing only two games. Shanahan said there was an outside chance Walls could play this week, although that appears unlikely.

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