Dec. 15, 2004 - Three quarterbacks in the AFC who are really feeling the pressure to perform now have to lead their teams on a final three-week assault to get into the playoffs. Each of these quarterbacks is dealing with different sets of scenarios and questions, and two are actually playing for their long-term future while one is trying to live up to his mammoth contract. 1. Jake Plummer, Denver Broncos. It has gotten so bad in Denver that Plummer made an inexcusable gesture by flipping off a home fan "with the bird." If this was Ron Artest, people would be calling for major suspensions. But instead, what this indicates to me, is that Plummer and his confidence have got to be at an all-time low. There are now questions in Denver about his long-term security as a Bronco and whether or not he has what it takes to get them into the playoffs.
Shanahan says Plummer will be returning in 2005 - Denver Post - Bill Williamson
Friday, December 17, 2004 - For those who thought Mike Shanahan and Jake Plummer could be elsewhere in 2005, that appears unlikely. Shanahan's statements in the past week should end speculation on the futures of the coach and the quarterback in Denver. Reiterating owner Pat Bowlen's comments about Plummer's future, Shanahan has publicly said Plummer will be back with the Broncos in 2005. Plummer, who has often said he doesn't worry about the situation, is due a $6 million roster bonus in March. Shanahan ended speculation last week about his interest in other NFL and college jobs by saying he intends to honor the final four years of his contract. Now it's clear Shanahan has plans for the future of the Broncos.
Elway visits Afghanistan - Denver Post - Emilio Morenatti, Associated Press
Friday, December 17, 2004 - Bagram, Afghanistan - As head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers usually doesn't have to take a back seat to anyone - except when U.S. troops make up the audience and comedian Robin Williams is on stage. American forces serving at Bagram Air Base got a little early Christmas cheer Thursday as Myers and Williams - along with former Broncos star John Elway, model/sports commentator Leann Tweeden and comedian Blake Clark - stopped by as part of a tour visiting American servicemen serving far from home.
Bell's sore shoulder to be "gut decision" - Denver Post - Bill Williamson
Friday, December 17, 2004 - Tatum Bell does not sound like someone who will carry the football many times in the chill of Kansas City. Bell practiced Thursday - as planned - but still felt pain from a third-degree separated left shoulder. He suffered the injury while starring in the Broncos' 20-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins. After practice, Bell wasn't optimistic about playing in a pivotal game Sunday for the Broncos (8-5). If Bell doesn't play against the Chiefs, Reuben Droughns will carry the load despite showing signs of wearing down. Veteran Garrison Hearst likely will play a reserve role whether or not Bell plays.
Kennison mends fences - Denver Post - Patrick Saunders
Friday, December 17, 2004 - The nasty Eddie Kennison saga has started to calm down. At least Broncos coach Mike Shanahan hopes so. Three years ago, Shanahan branded the wide receiver a quitter when Kennison walked out on the team on the eve of a Broncos game against the San Diego Chargers. When Kennison subsequently hooked up with the Kansas City Chiefs, a war of harsh words ensued. Now it appears Kennison and Shanahan have buried the hatchet.
Lynch turning loose at crunch time - Denver Post - Patrick Saunders
Thursday, December 16, 2004 - The way John Lynch sees it, a big hit on the football field is akin to blood in shark-infested waters. "If you make one of those plays early in a game, it almost becomes a frenzy," the free safety said Wednesday as the Broncos begin preparing for Sunday's game in Kansas City. "Everybody wants a piece of that action. All of a sudden, people start running to the ball a little bit faster. And running backs aren't so sure about getting that extra yard, and receivers aren't so sure about going across that middle. I think a big hit can be game-changing."
Gimme Bradlee - Denver Post - Bill Williamson
Friday, December 17, 2004 - Looks like Denver's season is about over. Why don't the Broncos bring Bradlee Van Pelt into the games and give him a little experience?
The Nowhere Man - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer
December 17, 2004 - The rumors and speculation about Jake Plummer's future in Denver can end right now. "He's going to be with us next year," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said Thursday. Shanahan's comment mirrors talk behind the scenes at Dove Valley and, to an extent publicly, given owner Pat Bowlen's label of Plummer as the franchise's quarterback of the future a month ago.
Haunted by the red-zone blues - Rocky Mountain News - Jeff Legwold
December 17, 2004 - In a perfect world, or at least one closer to what the Broncos hope for, all of their offensive work, the yardage they have churned out beneath their feet, would turn into touchdowns. But too often this season they have turned those efforts into frustration, a budding migraine or two and plenty of anger over some of the games that have gotten away because of turnovers at the worst time in the worst places on the field.
Hold truth? Coyer leads show of hands - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer
December 17, 2004 - After getting stonewalled once already this season by Kansas City, Mario Fatafehi thinks he has devised a plan entering the rematch to penetrate the Chiefs offensive line, widely regarded as the NFL's best unit. "You just close your eyes, fight, throw punches, stuff like that," the Broncos defensive tackle said with a smile. Broncos defensive coordinator Larry Coyer has another way to find success, only this time within the rules: Get Kansas City's blockers to quit holding so much. "They're very gifted, don't get me wrong. They're talented, big-time linemen," Coyer told a group of reporters after practice Wednesday. "But they cheat."
Legwold: Shanahan's car, but in NFL, QBs have the key - Denver Post - Rocky Mountain News - Jeff Legwold
December 17, 2004 - Whenever the rumor mill spins about Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, that he is going to jump to some university for roughly a 60 percent pay cut, one point seems to always pop up. That, say it with me now . . . Mike Shanahan never has won anything without John Elway. And that's as true as true can be. The proof is in the record book. There have been two playoff trips for the Broncos since Elway retired with the key to the city in his pocket, and all the Broncos have to show for their troubles are two road losses. People often nod knowingly when they tell you this. There is just one thing about all that. It also puts Shanahan in one of the largest clubs in the history of professional football, a club that is only getting bigger.
RB Bell doubtful for Sunday - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
December 17, 2004 - Tatum Bell practiced on Thursday for the first time since suffering a third-degree separation of his left shoulder during his breakout game against Miami. As you might expect, it hurt. The Broncos rookie wants to play after rushing for 123 yards and two touchdowns against the Dolphins, but that seemed more like wishful thinking in the locker room after the workout. "As of right now, if we had a game I don't think I would play," Bell said. "They told me it couldn't get any worse. ... Way its looking, it's going to be a game-time decision."
Shanahan wants Plummer back - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
December 17, 2004 - A week after ending speculation about his future in Denver, insisting he never talked to Notre Dame and plans to honor the final four years of his contract with the Broncos, Mike Shanahan spread the word that he would like Jake Plummer to stick around, too. In an interview with ESPN's Andrea Kremer, Shanahan said the Broncos will exercise a $6 million option in March to retain Plummer as the starting quarterback for the 2005 season.
Triandos Luke: Learning Fast - DenverBroncos.com - Brady Smith
Friday, December 17, 2004 - It was the second day of the 2004 NFL Draft and speedy wide receiver Triandos Luke was anxiously awaiting a call from a franchise informing him that he had been drafted. It was getting a bit late, and a feeling of apprehensiveness began to set in. Just the day before, the University of Alabama alumnus had gathered with a slew of friends and family in anticipation of being selected in the first or second rounds. But on this day, just he and his parents sat quietly in the living room of his Phenix City, Ala., home, pondering if he would get the one call that he had dreamt of since he was a boy -- the one that could change his life immediately.
Rookies Get Ready - DenverBroncos.com - Andrew Mason
Friday, December 17, 2004 - For most of the season, Roc Alexander and Jeff Shoate could gradually grow into playing defense in the NFL. Neither had to start. Both went through lengthy stretches without seeing as much as a defensive snap, although Alexander has been active for all 13 games this year in part due to his duties on kickoff returns. The play of Lenny Walls and Willie Middlebrooks afforded Alexander and Shoate the benefit of a relatively gentle transition to the professional ranks. That changes Sunday. With Walls on injured reserve and Middlebrooks set to head there after suffering a knee injury against Miami, only starters Champ Bailey and Kelly Herndon sit ahead of the rookie pair.
Bell: 'I Don't Think I'd Play' if Game Was Now - DenverBroncos.com - Andrew Mason
Thursday, December 16, 2004 - For Broncos running back Tatum Bell, it's a good thing that his team isn't playing the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday rather than Sunday. If they did, he wouldn't be ready to go. "After today, as of right now, if we had a game, I don't think I'd play," Bell said following his first practice since separating a shoulder in the third quarter of Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins. "I'm coming along slowly," Bell added. "I got a few reps today. Still, I don't think I'm there yet. It hurts when I run and when I'm trying to pick up the blitz. I know it'll be a little extra pain, but I'll just try to fight through it and see how it feels Sunday."
Rod Smith Nominated for NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year - DenverBroncos.com - Kelly Brown
Thursday, December 16, 2004 - Rod Smith was named as one of thirty-two finalists—one player from each NFL team—for the 2004 title of NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year. The Man of the Year award is the NFL's most prestigious off-field honor and is the only league honor bestowed on players who demonstrate excellence in their civic and professional responsibilities. The award is given at the end of each season to the NFL player who best provides leadership for his teammates on the gridiron and his fellow citizens in the community.
Nate Jackson's Jounal -- The Week After - DenverBroncos.com
Thursday, December 16, 2004 - After a brief hiatus, I have returned. Unbeknownst to my spine, my mind was ill prepared to tackle the challenge of adequately expressing myself last week. But here I am, back in front of the computer. Bleeding, mopping, and healing. Two games ago, against the Chargers, my ankle failed to defy the laws of physics and crunched awkwardly underneath a falling human. I didn't know that it was broken right away, but I knew something wasn't right. It did crunch. That's how I can describe the feeling. But the adrenaline masks the severity of the injury, numbs the pain. In battle, you never know how bad you are hurt until it's over.
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