Shanahan, Plummer shake off criticism

At Wednesday's press conference, Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan and quarterback Jake Plummer shrugged off comments made by former tight end Shannon Sharpe about their effectiveness. But Shanahan was also vague when asked about his future with the Broncos. In other news - defensive lineman Trevor Pryce returned to limited practice for the first time since September 17.

Team focus: making playoff - Denver Post - Bill Williamson
Thursday, December 09, 2004 - In the midst of a 10-day blizzard of adversity, negativity and controversy, the Broncos' locker room was a relatively sedate place Wednesday. A team stocked with leaders is showing no signs of distress or wear as it tries to salvage its playoff hopes. "We're all walking around here with smiles and are happy," safety Nick Ferguson said. "That's what this team does, though. We stick together. All the other stuff, it doesn't matter to us, really. We're just here trying to work it out together and not worry about anything else." The Broncos (7-5) are two games behind AFC West leader San Diego (9-3) with four games to play, a result of consecutive losses to the Oakland Raiders and Chargers. Denver lost those games by a total of four points and had chances to win both in the final minutes. Shanahan supports QB - Denver Post - Patrick Saunders
Thursday, December 09, 2004 - On the subjects of Shannon Sharpe's verbal barbs and quarterback Jake Plummer's abilities, Mike Shanahan was crystal clear at his Wednesday news conference. The Broncos coach shrugged off Sharpe's recent criticism and praised Plummer. But when it came to his own future in Denver, Shanahan's answer was murky. With speculation swirling that he could leave if the Broncos don't regroup and make a strong playoff run, Shanahan was pointedly asked if he's coming back next season.

Sharpe heads Hall of Fame class of 6 - Denver Post - Mark Kiszla
Thursday, December 09, 2004 - The cheeks of Mike Shanahan burned as red-hot as his famous intensity. Once upon a time, he did not hear the tough questions Broncomaniacs are asking now. After 10 years in Denver, has he grown stale as an NFL coach? "You guys think I'm pretty stale, don't you?" Shanahan said during his weekly news conference. "Is that what you're trying to say?" Everybody in the room laughed. But what makes a joke funny is its kernel of truth.

Pryce ready to put rehab behind him - Denver Post - Bill Williamson
Thursday, December 09, 2004 - Al Wilson spied the stranger on the practice field Wednesday and immediately called him up to perform the Broncos' patented "breakdown" during pre-practice warm-ups. Much to the delight of his teammates, Trevor Pryce sauntered up to the front of the team. He did a couple of silly moves before feigning a back injury to get out of the spotlight. But the point was made: Pryce is a full-fledged member of the team again. In a minor event that could end up being a major step, Pryce was back on the practice field - in helmet and in shoulder pads - for the first time since having surgery Sept. 22 for a herniated disc in his lower back.

Players support interim coach - Denver Post - Patrick Saunders
Thursday, December 09, 2004 - Miami defensive end Jason Taylor has heard the rumors that Broncos coach Mike Shanahan is a possible candidate to become the Dolphins' next coach at the end of the season. Taylor said he'll believe it when he sees it. "We did hear Mike's name down here, and a few other coaches throughout the league," Taylor said. "All that stuff is premature, and I think it's all rumors and speculation at this point." Taylor said he would like to see interim coach Jim Bates get a shot and continue as head coach next season.

Cold shoulder to hot air - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer
December 9, 2004 - Forget the Miami Dolphins. There were bigger fish to fry Wednesday at Dove Valley. The topics in Broncoland included coach Mike Shanahan's future, quarterback Jake Plummer's competency and Shannon Sharpe's diatribes this week in several radio interviews, which started all the fuss in the first place. They were subjects Plummer attempted to characterize as no big deal during his weekly podium interview session. "It's chinook winds blowing off the mountain," he said.

Pryce practices, but timetable to return uncertain - Rocky Mountain News - Jeff Legwold
December 9, 2004 - Defensive lineman Trevor Pryce, who has not played since the regular-season opener, participated in some of the Broncos' practice Wednesday - the first time since his Sept. 22 surgery to repair a disk in his lower back. Pryce did not participate in the full workout but performed some drills. He still is listed as "out" on the team's injury report for the game Sunday against Miami. "This is my first day, we'll see what happens (today)," Pryce said. "He's still quite sore," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "Did some football-related drills, but he didn't practice much. . . . He's still a long ways away."

On Sharpe's comments, sound - but little fury - Rocky Mountain News - Jeff Legwold
December 9, 2004 - The Denver Broncos made it clear Wednesday whose opinion matters to them. And former player or not, Super Bowl winner or not, friend or not, Shannon Sharpe is just not on that list. Sharpe, who leads NFL tight ends in career receptions, raised some eyebrows and some ire around the Broncos' Dove Valley complex because of harsh comments about Broncos coach Mike Shanahan's ability to guide the franchise in addition to quarterback Jake Plummer's play this season.

Adams: Sharpe dispute worked in past - Rocky Mountain News - Sam Adams
December 9, 2004 - Maybe the Denver Broncos need a little bit of controversy to regain some of their lost edge. Former Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe lit a fire under fans with his publicized criticisms aimed toward coach Mike Shanahan and quarterback Jake Plummer after Denver's 20-17 loss at San Diego on Sunday. Sharpe's comments about Shanahan's future and Plummer's abilities come at a time when the Broncos are stumbling into the final four regular-season games. But it's not the first time Sharpe's opinion sparked some late-season controversy at a time when the Broncos were losing.

NFL injury report, December 9 - Rocky Mountain News
December 9, 2004 - NFL injury report, December 9

Pryce practices, aims to play again this year - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
December 9, 2004 - If nothing else, Trevor Pryce can be a scarecrow for the Denver Broncos in the final four games of the regular season. "He looks good in his uniform," coach Mike Shanahan said. "He can just go out for the coin flip and scare these guys." For the first time in nearly three months, Pryce was in uniform with his teammates on Wednesday. The Pro Bowl defensive end, who has not played since the opener on Sept. 12, took part in practice by giving the first-team offense a new test as the highest-paid member of the scout team defense. After undergoing back surgery on Sept. 22, the timetable for Pryce's return was set at four to six weeks.

Shanahan sidesteps talk about his future - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
December 9, 2004 - The Broncos wasted a lot of breath talking about Shannon Sharpe talking about the Broncos. As Denver's starting quarterback — labeled mediocre by the tight end-turned-commentator earlier in the week — audibled at his Wednesday press conference, the whole situation is basically a swirling circle of hot air. "It's Chinook winds blowing off the mountain," QB Jake Plummer said.

Pryce Returns to Field in Limited Duty - DenverBroncos.com - Andrew Mason
Wednesday, December 8, 2004 - It was merely "six reps with the scout team." But for defensive lineman Trevor Pryce, that limited action during Wednesday afternoon's practice was a massive step forward as he got on-field work for the first time since mid-September. Pryce hasn't played since Sept. 12 against Kansas City and hasn't even practiced since the morning of Sept. 17, two days before he was inactive for the Broncos' 7-6 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Three days later, he underwent surgery to remove a disc fragment from his lower back. The progress of rehabilitation has been steady, and rapid, despite the fact that the initial projection of a four-to-six-week absence sailed out the window back in October.

Shrugging It Off, Moving Ahead - DenverBroncos.com - Andrew Mason
Wednesday, December 8, 2004 - Times and roles change. A season ago, when Shannon Sharpe was on the receiving end of eight touchdown passes from Jake Plummer, the tight end had praise for his new teammate who represented the third full-time starting quarterback he'd worked with during his 12 seasons in Denver. "I think Jake might be a little better than what we anticipated." -- Dec. 14, 2003, after Plummer led game-tying and game-winning drives in regulation and overtime during a 23-20 win over Cleveland.

A Blustery Day - DenverBroncos.com - Andrew Mason
Wednesday, December 8, 2004 - The sizable complement of media swelled beyond its normal levels at Dove Valley on Wednesday, breathlessly expecting any verbal fireworks in response to the broadsides lobbed by Shannon Sharpe at Jake Plummer, Head Coach Mike Shanahan and the team on a trio of radio programs Monday and Tuesday. But what surprised some Broncos was the fact that a man who shared locker space with them just 12 months ago -- and who announced plans to play this year just eight months earlier -- was the one at the center of the storm. "It's more shocking to actually have a former teammate -- a guy who's been in the organization -- say that," Broncos safety Nick Ferguson said. "It's just kind of baffling. You're (thinking), 'Where did that come from?'"

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