It's not often an NFL team will make a major lineup change fourteen weeks into the season, but following his dismal performance in San Diego, the Denver Broncos really had no choice.
Thursday afternoon it became official, as the team waived punter/kicker Micah Knorr and claimed Jason Baker, most recently with the Indianapolis Colts, off the NFL waiver wire.
Despite the unusual timing, the news does not come as a complete shock. Sunday's loss to the Chargers was the final nail in the coffin.
All four San Diego scores came off drives that began in Denver territory.
Since replacing long-time favorite Tom Rouen midway through the 2002 season, Knorr has primarily been a disappointment handling both the punting and kickoff duties. His 2004 net average of 34.2 yards per punt ranks him twenty-fifth in the league among punters.
For a team still clinging to the slim hopes of a wild card spot, these numbers were simply inadequate, especially when you consider the fact that the team plays half of its games in the thin air of Invesco Field, long considered a kickers paradise.
Baker, a fourth-year veteran out of Iowa, split time between Kansas City and Indianapolis this year averaging 37.8-yards per punt and 61.8-yards per kickoff in limited action. He will also serve a holder for kicker Jason Elam, a duty he held last year in Kansas City for Moron Andersen and three-years ago for Jose Cortez in San Francisco.
THE PRYCE IS NOT RIGHT
Although defensive lineman Trevor Pryce participated in limited team drills this week, it's looking doubtful the former Pro Bowler will see action anytime soon.
"The more I push it, the more I work out, the better it gets," Pryce told reporters. "I'm not 100 percent right now, but when I'm lifting weights and running, the more I did it, the more I started to come back. If it was a point of playing football, then you'll go ahead and struggle through it. Eventually I'll be all right."
Eventually, but not right now.
"He's still quite sore," admitted Mike Shanahan.
"We're going to see if he can get back in football shape and how far he is away. Today he's not there. Can he be there two days from now or three days from now? Hopefully he keeps on improving."
Facing intense criticism from the media has never seemed to bother Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan, yet the scrutingy had never quite reached the point it did following Wednesday afternoon's practice, when he was directly asked if he felt that head coaches turn stale after spending ten years with the same team.
"You guys think I'm pretty stale don't you," Shanahan joked half-heartedly. "Is that what you're trying to say? Oh, I don't know. You've seen guys go for a long time – Don Shula, Tom Landry. I knew Bill Cowher was going through it and having a tough time with it last year. That's the nature of this job. If you're winning, things are great. If you're losing, it's not so good, especially if you have a high standard."
"That's the scrutiny about being a head coach in the NFL. You're really [as] good as your last game and right now I'm not very good."
Schon can be reached at Schon@prostarmediagroup.net
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