Schon: The Injury Outlook

Rookie Tatum Bell (in photo), thought to be done for the year with a third-degree shoulder separation, may in fact be ready to roll this week against the Kansas City Chiefs.

On one hand the news out of Dove Valley on Monday was very encouraging; on the other hand it was completely devastating.

Rookie Tatum Bell, who was thought to be done for the year with a third-degree shoulder separation, may in fact be ready to roll next week against the Kansas City Chiefs.

"I asked (Broncos Head Trainer Steve Antonopulos) to go back over the last 15 years or 20 years and tell me the people that were able to play the following week with a third-degree separation," head coach Mike Shanahan said. "He went through about 10 or 15 guys that were able to play the following week. So that was a little encouraging."

"He'll have a pad on there, Shanahan added. "It's an injury that can be (treated with an injection) to alleviate some of the pain."

The news for Cornerback Willie Middlebrooks was not as promising.

Middlebrooks, who injured his right knee during Sunday's 20-17 win over the Miami Dolphins, will be out the remainder of the season with a torn ligament.

"In the area between the tibia and the fibula there's a tendon or a ligament, and that thing was torn," Shanahan said. "So, he's out a minimum of eight weeks."

Middlebrooks' injury adds further concern to a Denver secondary that has seen more than its share of setbacks throughout the 2004 season.

Less than a month ago fellow cornerback Lenny Walls was placed on the Injured Reserve list with his third shoulder separation of the year. John Lynch (fractured sacrum), Roc Alexander (bruised kneecap) and Kelly Herndon (bruised thigh) have all missed games throughout the 2004 season.

Rookie Jeff Shoate, who has participated in only two plays this season, will advance on the depth chart to take Middlebrooks' position.

"Jeff has done a good job (in practice) or else he wouldn't be on our 53-man squad," Shanahan said. "I've got a lot of confidence in Jeff. He's a very smart player. He can play outside and inside in the nickel. He'll get his opportunity to get some playing time this week."

Schon can be reached at Schon@prostarmediagroup.net

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