Broncos Update Insider - Tuesday, Nov. 9

The bye week will be pretty enjoyable for the Denver Broncos, especially compared to what it might have been had they lost on Sunday. A few Broncos players termed Sunday's game against Houston a must-win game, considering their two-game losing streak and the impending bye week. They played one of their best games of the season, beating the Texans 31-13.

The bye week will be pretty enjoyable for the Denver Broncos, especially compared to what it might have been had they lost on Sunday.

A few Broncos players termed Sunday's game against Houston a must-win game, considering their two-game losing streak and the impending bye week. They played one of their best games of the season, beating the Texans 31-13.

"I think it's positive to start the second half the way we did," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "We get a chance to heal up, physically and mentally."

The Broncos are reasonably healthy heading into the second half of the season. Only defensive end Trevor Pryce, who might miss another month as he recuperates from back surgery, should miss any significant time among the players on the active roster.

The Broncos are in a good position as well, at 6-3 and tied for first place in the AFC West with San Diego. A loss on Sunday against Houston would have put them at 5-4 after a 5-1 start, which was not something the Broncos wanted to face.

"A lot of people were doubting us," defensive end Reggie Hayward said. "They thought we were in a slump that we couldn't recover from. So it's nice to go out and get such a big win, and let everybody get back on the bandwagon."

Shanahan was optimistic heading into the bye week, but said that he realizes there is a lot more the Broncos need to do.

"We haven't done anything yet," Shanahan said. "We got the second half of the season in front of us and to make this a special year and a special team you have to play at a high level. You have to do something not only to get into the playoffs, but once you get in there you have to do something with it."

NOTES AND QUOTES

-- The Broncos will practice on Wednesday morning before getting the rest of the bye week off. Coach Mike Shanahan said the coaches will get Thursday through Sunday off as well.

The coaches and players should benefit from some time away from football after nine regular-season games.

"We get a chance to regroup and come back and get ready for the push," Shanahan said.

-- The Broncos found a pair of defensive linemen that were on the street last year who contributed all season -- Mario Fatafehi and Darius Holland. The same has happened this year.

The Broncos signed end Anton Palepoi a few weeks into the season after Palepoi was released by Seattle, and Palepoi has played well. The Broncos also acquired tackle Ellis Johnson in a trade, resurrecting his career after a long holdout with Atlanta.

"They both have helped us," Shanahan said.

- Rod Smith set team career records in receptions and receiving touchdowns on Sunday, passing Shannon Sharpe in both categories. Smith already held the franchise record for career receiving yards.

"The way he prepares, the way he works, the way he handles himself, you couldn't ask for anything more," Shanahan said of Smith.

PLAYER NOTES

--WR Ashley Lelie has developed into one of the top big-play threats in the AFC, but Mike Shanahan has been more impressed with Lelie's improvement as a blocker. The Broncos ask their receivers to be effective blockers, and Shanahan said Lelie is making progress in that area.

--DE Raylee Johnson was inactive for the second straight game against Houston, but Mike Shanahan said he foresees Johnson still making an impact down the stretch. Johnson is a positive influence in the locker room, so he won't complain about his reduced playing time.

--S John Lynch could be ready to return after the Broncos' bye this week. Lynch, who has a stress fracture near his tailbone, was inactive Sunday but has maintained confidence he would only miss one game.

--RB Tatum Bell has been set back because of injuries, but Mike Shanahan said he was impressed that Bell played through a sore hamstring to contribute on special teams Sunday. The coaches have seen flashes of Bell's ability and he could be a contributor at running back in the last two months of the season.

--DT Luther Elliss has been playing in passing situations for the Broncos and had a sack on Sunday. Elliss, who was slowed earlier in the season with a pectoral injury, could be an important part of Denver's defensive line rotation if he can stay healthy.

Voice your opinion on our Broncos Hardcore Message Board


Mile High Huddle Top Stories

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A few Broncos players termed Sunday's game against Houston a must-win game, considering their two-game losing streak and the impending bye week. They played one of their best games of the season, beating the Texans 31-13.

\"I think it's positive to start the second half the way we did,\" Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. \"We get a chance to heal up, physically and mentally.\"

The Broncos are reasonably healthy heading into the second half of the season. Only defensive end Trevor Pryce, who might miss another month as he recuperates from back surgery, should miss any significant time among the players on the active roster.

The Broncos are in a good position as well, at 6-3 and tied for first place in the AFC West with San Diego. A loss on Sunday against Houston would have put them at 5-4 after a 5-1 start, which was not something the Broncos wanted to face.

\"A lot of people were doubting us,\" defensive end Reggie Hayward said. \"They thought we were in a slump that we couldn't recover from. So it's nice to go out and get such a big win, and let everybody get back on the bandwagon.\"

Shanahan was optimistic heading into the bye week, but said that he realizes there is a lot more the Broncos need to do.

\"We haven't done anything yet,\" Shanahan said. \"We got the second half of the season in front of us and to make this a special year and a special team you have to play at a high level. You have to do something not only to get into the playoffs, but once you get in there you have to do something with it.\"

-- The Broncos will practice on Wednesday morning before getting the rest of the bye week off. Coach Mike Shanahan said the coaches will get Thursday through Sunday off as well.

The coaches and players should benefit from some time away from football after nine regular-season games.

\"We get a chance to regroup and come back and get ready for the push,\" Shanahan said.

-- The Broncos found a pair of defensive linemen that were on the street last year who contributed all season -- Mario Fatafehi and Darius Holland. The same has happened this year.

The Broncos signed end Anton Palepoi a few weeks into the season after Palepoi was released by Seattle, and Palepoi has played well. The Broncos also acquired tackle Ellis Johnson in a trade, resurrecting his career after a long holdout with Atlanta.

\"They both have helped us,\" Shanahan said.

- Rod Smith set team career records in receptions and receiving touchdowns on Sunday, passing Shannon Sharpe in both categories. Smith already held the franchise record for career receiving yards.

\"The way he prepares, the way he works, the way he handles himself, you couldn't ask for anything more,\" Shanahan said of Smith.

--WR Ashley Lelie has developed into one of the top big-play threats in the AFC, but Mike Shanahan has been more impressed with Lelie's improvement as a blocker. The Broncos ask their receivers to be effective blockers, and Shanahan said Lelie is making progress in that area.

--DE Raylee Johnson was inactive for the second straight game against Houston, but Mike Shanahan said he foresees Johnson still making an impact down the stretch. Johnson is a positive influence in the locker room, so he won't complain about his reduced playing time.

--S John Lynch could be ready to return after the Broncos' bye this week. Lynch, who has a stress fracture near his tailbone, was inactive Sunday but has maintained confidence he would only miss one game.

--RB Tatum Bell has been set back because of injuries, but Mike Shanahan said he was impressed that Bell played through a sore hamstring to contribute on special teams Sunday. The coaches have seen flashes of Bell's ability and he could be a contributor at running back in the last two months of the season.

--DT Luther Elliss has been playing in passing situations for the Broncos and had a sack on Sunday. Elliss, who was slowed earlier in the season with a pectoral injury, could be an important part of Denver's defensive line rotation if he can stay healthy.

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