Broncos News Briefs - Saturday, Dec. 4

The resurgence of the Denver-San Diego rivalry will have a special meaning for safety John Lynch. Read about it in today's news reports.

Rivalry renovation at work - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer
December 4, 2004 - John Lynch has All-American looks, does extensive charity work and has a family straight out of a Norman Rockwell portrait. One envisions him helping little old ladies cross the street on his off days from his job as a Denver Broncos free safety. But he has a dirty little secret, uncovered this week. Growing up in Del Mar, Calif., Lynch was a powder blue-blooded San Diego Chargers fan while his grandmother, a Colorado resident, proudly wore Broncos orange. That's not the hush-hush part.

Cool Brees' hot hand should worry Broncos - Rocky Mountain News - Jeff Legwold
December 4, 2004 - The Denver Broncos saw the fruits of their pass-rush labors the previous time they faced San Diego Chargers quarterback Drew Brees. Now the question is: Do they try it again? They blitzed Brees often in their Sept. 26 victory (23-13) against the Chargers in Denver, with players such as linebacker Al Wilson offering after the win that "(the Chargers) got a little bit behind early and we forced them to throw the football with Drew Brees. We put the game in his hands and that's exactly where we wanted it." But that was then and this is now. The Chargers, with running back LaDainian Tomlinson having battled a groin injury for much of the season, increasingly have put their fortunes in Brees' hands in the eight games since.

NFL injury report, December 3 - Rocky Mountain News
December 2, 2004 - NFL injury report, December 4

Cut blocking still in spotlight - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
December 4, 2004 - The Broncos are ranked sixth in the NFL rushing the ball despite trading Clinton Portis after his back-to-back 1,500-yard seasons in Denver. Reuben Droughns, who has only started seven games, is about to become the fifth running back to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in a season since Mike Shanahan was hired as the head coach in 1995. On Sunday, the Broncos (7-4) — hoping to pull even with San Diego (8-3) in the AFC West with a victory, which would also give them the head-to-head tiebreaker — will face a Chargers defense ranked second in stopping the run. It's a matchup of strengths that everyone should keep an eye on at Qualcomm Stadium. But this week, both nationally and in San Diego, the controversy over Denver's offensive line's cut-blocking techniques cropped up in headlines again.

Mid-year firing takes some adjustment - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
December 3, 2004 - The Broncos made headlines during the bye week this season when Mike Shanahan fired his secondary coach — David Gibbs — and replaced him with Jimmy Spencer, who is in his first year as a full-time coach after serving as a player-coach in 2003. At that time, Denver was 6-3 and tied with San Diego for the AFC West lead. With Gibbs on the staff the team had the NFL's second-ranked pass defense. Three weeks later, the Broncos are 7-4, a game behind the Chargers and have the league's 12th-ranked pass defense. Not surprisingly, Shanahan and the players in his secondary downplayed the move this week when asked about it in hindsight, focusing on the bright future Spencer has as a coach instead of the uncomfortable situation.

Different Brees to face off against Broncos - San Diego Union-Tribune - Jay Posner
December 4, 2004 - It's common knowledge the 2004 Chargers no more resemble recent editions of the franchise than a poodle does a mountain lion. Scoring points, winning games, closing in on the playoffs . . . the Chargers have done it all. Except defeat Jake Plummer. The veteran quarterback had what has become a typical performance against the Chargers in September. He passed for 294 yards and two touchdowns as Denver defeated San Diego for the third straight time. The common thread through those games (other than a double-digit Broncos win): Plummer shredding the Chargers.

Overnight Denver star a long time rising - San Diego Union-Tribune - Jerry Magee
December 4, 2004 – Tacked above his locker in the Denver Broncos' dressing quarters is a placard identifying him as "Hollywood Droughns." A man who visits there regularly explained: "He was a nothing blocking fullback, and now he's the star tailback. He's become the biggest media darling in Denver." Hooray for Hollywood, and for Reuben Droughns, whose story does have some Hollywood in it. Try this scenario: Running back from Orange County is drafted by Detroit, makes team, is asked to join practice squad, declines, joins practice squad in Miami, rejoins Lions, they drop him, comes to Denver as a blocking back, is switched to tailback, finds stardom. All one has to do to recognize that Droughns is a star is to look at his ears. On each lobe is attached a diamond stud.

Bring raincoat, money to board bandwagon - San Diego Union-Tribune - Jay Posner
December 4, 2004 - Hot tickets, cold weather. That about sums up tomorrow's Chargers-Broncos game at Qualcomm Stadium. The game is sold out, but that doesn't mean you can't get a ticket – if you're willing to pay big money. The Chargers, for instance, have one 12-seat suite remaining. It will set you back $9,000, but, hey, catering is included. If that's a little out of range, there are plenty of ticket brokers willing to help. A representative of Premier Tickets in Mission Valley said tomorrow's game is "the biggest we've seen in a long time. Like when (Stan) Humphries was the man." The man – who asked not to be identified – said "good seats" were being sold for as much as $350. The least-expensive ticket he had was $135. "This is huge," he said.

Pouring on the Points - - Andrew Mason
Friday, December 3, 2004 - These are your father's San Diego Chargers. They score in ways not seen in San Diego since the days when Dan Fouts played pitch-and-catch with Wes Chandler, Charlie Joiner and Kellen Winslow. This year's Chargers average 29.0 points per game, putting the team on pace for its highest-scoring seasons ince 1985, when it posted 29.2 points per contest. This year's Chargers bear scant resemblance to any 1990s vestiges of vintage-style "Martyball" that manifested themselves in the Bolts' strategy in 2002 and 2003, Marty Schottenheimer's first two seasons with the club. "They've gone 180 degrees," defensive coordinator Larry Coyer said. "It's Martyball, but it's just a different version of it. He's got them everywhere. It's nauseating to watch the film."

Chargers At a Glance - - Tucker Gilmore
Friday, December 3, 2004 - The time has come to 'show up or ship out' in the AFC West. This Sunday, the Denver Broncos (7-4) will square-off against the San Diego Chargers (8-3) in a game that could help decide which team will be playoff-bound, and which team will have an early vacation. The Chargers come into Sunday's showdown as one of the hottest teams in the league. After defeating the Chiefs last weekend in Kansas City, the Chargers have now reeled off five straight wins, and with a win over Denver, San Diego would place itself two games in front of the Broncos in the AFC West. However, if the Broncos manage to come out of San Diego with a win, Denver would then hold the division lead by way of a head-to-head tiebreaker.

The Power of a Second Chance - - Brady Smith
Friday, December 3, 2004 - It was early September and defensive tackle Anton Palepoi had just been abruptly released by the Seattle Seahawks, the team that drafted him in the second round just two years earlier. Palepoi was apprehensive at the thought of not playing football, but those nerves calmed after teams like San Diego and Jacksonville showed interest in his services in the days following his release. Palepoi went to Jacksonville for a visit and was less than an hour away from signing with the Jaguars when he received a phone call from Broncos director of pro personnel Rick Smith.

Raylee Johnson Answers Your Questions -
Friday, December 3, 2004 - This week's Q&A is with Broncos' defensive lineman Raylee Johnson. In his twelfth season in the National Football League, Johnson has made a significant impact on the Broncos' defensive line, filling in rotational duties and becoming a formidable force on the pass rush. Facing the San Diego Chargers, where he played the first 11 of his professional seasons, earlier in the 2004 campaign, Johnson came up with a stellar performance. Making six tackles, Johnson also recorded a sack of Chargers' quarterback Drew Brees and forced a fumble, which was eventually recovered by Denver. His effort that day helped the Denver defense hold stellar running back LaDainian Tomlinson to a mere 60 yards, his lowest rushing total in 15 games.

Broncology: No Stuffing, Not Even at Thanksgiving - - Andrew Mason
Friday, December 3, 2004 - The Thanksgiving stuffing is all gone now. But the stuff has been absent from the Broncos' run offense since Reuben Droughns became the featured running back in Week 5. The "stuff" is defined by Stats, Inc. as a run that goes for negative yardage, and that hasn't happened very often to Droughns this year -- just 12 times on 202 carries, or 5.9 percent of his rushes. That is the lowest stuff percentage among all NFL backs with at least 150 carries, ranking just ahead of the New York Jets' Curtis Martin (6.9 percent), Pittsburgh's Duce Staley (7.3 percent), Indianapolis' Edgerrin James (8.2 percent) and New England's Corey Dillon (8.5 percent).

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