Honors pile up for D.J. Williams

Denver Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams has been named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month, just another in a series of honors he's received. Also in today's news - safety John Lynch fires back at the NFL about his fine and a warning issued.

Broncos hope to end frustration in the red zone - Denver Post - Patrick Saunders
Friday, January 07, 2005 - If a football field were 80 yards long, the Broncos would be an offensive juggernaut. Consider: They averaged 395.8 yards a game during the regular season. That's better than the 1997 Super Bowl team (367.0) and the 1998 Super Bowl team (380.8). Quarterback Jake Plummer threw for a franchise-record 4,089 yards and tied John Elway's club record of 27 touchdown passes. They rushed for 145.8 yards a game, not a bad copy of the 1998 team that averaged 154.3. That team featured MVP Terrell Davis, who rushed for 2,008 yards. So how come the Broncos scrambled to make the playoffs and are 10-point underdogs heading into Sunday's AFC wild-card game in Indianapolis?

Huge hurdle awaits in Indy - Denver Post - Bill Williamson
Friday, January 07, 2005 - Denver Post staff writer Bill Williamson posts his Broncos Mailbag each Friday during the 2004 NFL season

Lynch fires back at league - Denver Post - Bill Williamson
Friday, January 07, 2005 - The continuing saga over a stiff fine and warning issued to Denver safety John Lynch took another turn Thursday when the Pro Bowl player's attorney responded with a letter stating the league might be impacting the integrity of a wild-card playoff game between the Broncos and Colts to be played Sunday at Indianapolis.

Broncos new team they love to hate - Denver Post - Mark Kiszla
Friday, January 07, 2005 - Once upon a time, the Broncos were respected throughout the NFL as winners. Now, they are seen as trouble. Where's the justice? Well, there's no denying the rap. With every bone shattered by a cut block, each league censure for head-hunting and an embarrassing history of salary-cap violations, Denver's reputation grows more notorious. Fair or not, your local football heroes are increasingly viewed across the country as the Old Dirty Broncos.

Time to step up or drop out - Denver Post - Joseph Sanchez
Friday, January 07, 2005 - There are worse things than having to rely on a rookie running back in an NFL playoff game against the high-powered Indianapolis Colts and a loud and hostile crowd Sunday at the RCA Dome. Things such as having to rely on a rookie cornerback against the Colts' three wide-receiver attack, for example. That's two more reasons things aren't looking so good for the Broncos these days.

Playoffs aren't so bad after all - Denver Post - Bill Williamson
Friday, January 07, 2005 - Broncos fans who still are upset by the team's midseason swoon and the fact that they haven't won the division for the past six seasons can take solace in one slice of reality as the NFL prepares for the second season: 20 teams no longer are playing. Those teams already are trying to figure how to win in 2005. The Broncos, however, still have a chance to win in the 2004 season. Denver is one of nine teams to win 10 or more games this season. So remember, if you have forgotten, playoff seasons and 10-win seasons are nothing to take for granted.

Williams gets coach's vote - Denver Post - Bill Williamson
Friday, January 07, 2005 - D.J. Williams led the Broncos with 114 tackles this season.D.J. Williams may be an underdog for the defensive rookie of the year award, but his coach thinks there's no contest. "He should be the rookie of the year," coach Mike Shanahan said of the Broncos' leading tackler. "I don't know what more you could expect from a rookie. He's does everything for us. He's been an impact player ... he's already a great player. He's had a great year."

Back in a horse race - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer
January 7, 2005 - The Denver Broncos haven't won a playoff game since John Elway retired. It's both a fact and an albatross, nearly six years since the second of consecutive Super Bowl championships. Not that the Broncos have been a total flameout since they last hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. Denver has been competitive most seasons, despite rebuilding its roster with the losses of superstars such as Elway, Terrell Davis, Gary Zimmerman and a host of other solid veterans.

Aiming higher - Rocky Mountain News - Jeff Legwold
January 7, 2005 - There were dreams of glory, of wins on last-second miracles. Over and over again, the kid in Boise, Idaho, ran those plays as the sun slid into the horizon. There were dreams of championships and fame. Dreams of . . . "Well, I was trying to be Walter Payton a lot of times," Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer said. "Maybe Marcus Allen. But doing the high step, carrying the ball with one hand just like Payton did, all that crazy stuff. I don't know if one game really stands out. As a kid, you just loved watching the playoffs, or any game, really. I don't think I really knew the magnitude of playoffs back then." Oh, how things have changed.

Second chances gone, adrenaline rush is on - Rocky Mountain News - Phillip B. Wilson, The Indianapolis Star
January 7, 2005 - Cato June still can see the scene - snowflakes falling on Gillette Stadium last January, a sellout crowd abuzz for the AFC Championship Game at New England. The Indianapolis Colts linebacker was a rookie special-teams player then. And he was just taking the field for warm-ups. "I could feel that energy in the building," June said. If he learned anything from his initial playoff experience, it's that these games demand an adrenaline rush of intensity seldom seen in a laborious 16-game regular season. Now a starter at weak-side linebacker, June will play a more prominent role when the Colts (12-4) host the Denver Broncos (10-6) in an AFC wild-card game Sunday at the RCA Dome.

For Johnson, it will be a homecoming - Rocky Mountain News - Lynn DeBruin
January 7, 2005 - Denver Broncos defensive tackle Ellis Johnson still has his Colts paraphernalia. He still calls Indianapolis home. And come Sunday, his wife and two children will still dress in blue when they take their seats in the frenzied RCA Dome crowd. But there will be one difference. "They'll be in Denver blue this weekend," Johnson said. While Sunday's AFC wild-card game between the Broncos and Colts is a homecoming of sorts for the former Colts player, Johnson isn't about to get caught up in the emotion.

Legwold: Here's the best of the story in '04 - Rocky Mountain News - Jeff Legwold
January 7, 2005 - It has been a season that will go down as the year of the frequent fliers. A planetary alignment that included a tilt of the rule book toward the offense, a shortage of top-end defensive backs and a surplus of pass catchers set the league's quarterbacks free to air it out at a record pace. Five quarterbacks, including the Denver Broncos' Jake Plummer, finished with at least 4,000 yards passing - that tied the NFL record for a single season set in 1999. Combined, the league's passers also completed 59.8 percent of their passes - also a record - to go with a combined 82.8 passer rating. And yes, that too, was a record.

Lincicome: Lynch was just protecting his reputation - Rocky Mountain News - Bernie Lincicome
January 7, 2005 - Hmmm. Let's do the math. Jake Plummer gets fined $5,000 for using one finger and John Lynch gets fined $75,000 for using his whole head. The lesson here, applying this scale, suggests that vulgarity is 15 times more acceptable than brutality, when the NFL could exist very well without the first one but not at all without the second. So, for the kids in the audience, better to be a scamp than a thug, or better to be a quarterback than a defensive back, not that most kids don't already believe that. Here's the bottom line: If there were not roughness, there would not be any unnecessary roughness.

Williams a big hit(ter) in his first year - Rocky Mountain News - Jeff Legwold
January 7, 2005 - Denver Broncos rookie linebacker D.J. Williams was asked Thursday if Sunday's AFC wild-card playoff game at Indianapolis will be the biggest game in which he has played. Well, get back to him on that. "I wouldn't say so yet," Williams said. "I don't know how to act or feel right now; I'll have to wait until game time and see." Still, Williams, an elite player for De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif., and the high-powered University of Miami, has carved out the beginnings of a quality NFL career. Thursday, he was named the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Month for December and is one of the leading candidates for The Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Lelie hopes to deliver big Hawaiian punch - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer
January 7, 2005 - He dived in prostrate. He paddled. And Ashley Lelie hopped on his "surfboard," shimmying like a dashboard bobblehead doll before falling back into the "ocean." The post-touchdown celebration Sunday was meant to celebrate his Hawaii roots. It also went exactly like his real-life surfing experiences in the ocean off the Big Island.

Indy gets ready to rev it up on home turf - Rocky Mountain News - Lynn DeBruin
January 7, 2005 - Denver Broncos right tackle George Foster never has played a down in the RCA Dome, but he knows what home cookin' means for the Indianapolis Colts. "They like to kick it up a notch," he said. But this isn't about Emeril's Essence. He was referring to speed, the Colts' not-so-secret ingredient on their home turf. Nowhere is it more evident than on the Colts defensive line, where Dwight Freeney has been known to make even the best offensive tackles look bad.

Alexander hopes he learned lesson - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
January 7, 2005 - If Jim Sorgi figured it out, imagine what Peyton Manning has planned? During Denver's 33-14 victory over Indianapolis last Sunday at Invesco Field, the offensive highlight for Sorgi in his first NFL start was finding Reggie Wayne down the sideline for a 71-yard touchdown that made it a three-point game with 4:47 left in the first half. Wayne, one of three Colts receivers with at least 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns, beat Broncos rookie cornerback Roc Alexander on the play. Safety Kenoy Kennedy was late to help and then was faked out by Wayne's spin move. Lesson learned?

Trying to turn over a new leaf - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
January 7, 2005 - Did you know that a member of the Denver Broncos leads the NFL in fumble recoveries? It's true. And that player's name is Jake Plummer, the quarterback who has pounced on six of Denver's fumbles. If you're looking for the reason why the Broncos, the only team ranked in the top 10 in overall offense and defense, are the longest of long shots in the AFC's playoff bracket, check out the turnover ratios of the teams. During the regular season, Indianapolis led the league with a plus-19 net differential. Denver was 13th in the AFC at minus-9, the only team to make the playoffs from the negative column. Needless to say, Plummer and the Broncos won't be able to overcome the Colts on Sunday at the RCA Dome (11 a.m., Channel 4) if they hand the ball over to Peyton Manning and Co.

As softies go, Colts display hard edge - Indianapolis Star - Bob Kravitz
January 7, 2005 - I admit it. Like my Indianapolis brethren, I'm soft. You've seen the statistics; Indy is one of the softest cities in the union, with the average citizen weighing seven Big-Macs-and-supersize-those-fries more than the average American. Denver, by contrast, is one of the country's healthiest, fittest cities, even if my 10-year residence there brought down the average. Those aren't soft people. They hike mountains for fun. They wrestle bears to the ground. They cross-country ski to the local health food store to pick up organic granola. Maybe that explains why two Denver Broncos, John Lynch and Kenoy Kennedy, talked a bit this week about the importance of getting physical -- physical in a football way, I mean -- with the Colts' generally undersized and (here we go again) soft receivers.

Lynch, Bailey provide toughness - Indianapolis Star - Phil Richards
January 7, 2005 - Four weeks into the season, CBS analyst Shannon Sharpe had seen enough of the Indianapolis Colts. He declared that the evidence was in, his conclusions drawn. "I have a better chance of hitting a grand slam home run in Yankee Stadium with a toothpick," the former standout tight end decreed Oct. 3 on "NFL Today," "than they have of winning the Super Bowl with that defense." That proclamation resonates two days before the Colts' wild-card playoff game against Denver at the RCA Dome on Sunday. It resonates in the Colts' locker room. "Shannon's got a pretty big mouth," cornerback Jason David reasoned, "so that would probably be a pretty big toothpick he's using." Baseballs and bombast aside, the issue lingers.

Broncos plan to get physical with WRs - ESPN.com - Len Pasquarelli
Thursday, January 6, 2005 - During a 2003 wild-card playoff loss at Indianapolis, the Denver Broncos secondary surrendered 327 yards and four touchdown passes, allowed 31 points, and permitted Colts quarterback Peyton Manning to register a perfect passer efficiency rating of 158.3. In the first half. So you've got to wonder why Broncos defensive coordinator Larry Coyer, whose troops were so thoroughly outclassed by Indianapolis a year ago that that game resembled more a training camp seven-on-seven drill than a playoff matchup, conjured up the term "fun" at one point on Wednesday for what will transpire on Sunday afternoon. "They are what they are," said Coyer, who presided over the NFL's No. 4 overall defense and sixth-rated unit against the pass in 2004. "They're very good. And we are what we are. Now we have to go and raise hell and see who wins. And we are going to raise total hell, OK? And we'll find out. That's all I know to say. All the other stuff is (expletive) and I won't listen to it. Let's wait until the game and then we'll make our comments."

Rolling Roc - DenverBroncos.com - Brady Smith
Friday, January 7, 2005 - Being a rookie in the NFL these days sure isn't easy. Try competing against veteran athletes more physically and mentally developed then you are on a week-to-week basis. Try learning complicated offensive and defensive schemes while meshing all of it together with intensity and instinctive play on game days. Try handling the pressure to excel that was put upon you the day you signed the dotted line. Now, after shredding through these obstacles, try being the guy whose reward for a solid first year in the NFL is trying to help thwart an offense which features a record-setting quarterback, three 1,000-yard receivers, and one of the top running backs in the league in your first career playoff game. This is the path traveled and the task at hand for cornerback Roc Alexander against the potent Indianapolis Colts offense in this weekend's Wild Card playoff matchup.

Thursday Notebook: Bailey Gets All-Pro Nod - DenverBroncos.com - Andrew Mason
Thursday, January 6, 2005 - Some honors and awards mean a great deal to Champ Bailey. Evidently All-Pro status is not among them. Bailey became the only Bronco selected to the first-team Associated Press All-Pro squad Thursday, earning the recognition for the first time in his career. He became just the second Bronco in the past five years to earn All-Pro honors, joining Tom Nalen, who garnered the distinction in 2000 and 2003. But Bailey embraced the news not with high-fives and celebration, but reserve. Nothing against being All-Pro; he'd just rather earn a distinction from fellow players.

Williams Heralded as December's NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month - DenverBroncos.com - Andrew Mason
Thursday, January 6, 2005 - The honors keep rolling in for the Broncos -- and for linebacker D.J. Williams. Thursday, the league announced that Williams earned NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month honors for December, adding another award to his overflowing mantle. Williams' recognition came a day after Jake Plummer earned AFC Offensive Player of the Week plaudits and eight days after Williams earned the nod as the AFC's Defensive Player of the Week for his 7-tackle, one-interception effort in the 37-16 win at Tennessee. He was the only rookie to earn AFC Defensive Player of the Week recognition in 2004.

Wednesday Notebook: Bring on the Noise - DenverBroncos.com - Andrew Mason
Wednesday, January 5, 2005 - Friday practices prior to road games usually see the Broncos work in a setting worthy of a Metallica concert, as the team rolls out speakers and turns piped-in crowd noise up full blast to simulate the din that fans try to create on the road. But this week, the Broncos will spend one extra day bathed in sound, maneuvering the speakers into place for Thursday's session as well as Friday's. "We'll get a chance for two days to use our crowd noise," Head Coach Mike Shanahan said. "So we'll get a chance to practice against it. Hopefully it pays dividends." That's what's necessary when playing in what tight end Jeb Putzier believes is the loudest venue in the league. "By far," he said. "You can't hear yourself think in there."

League Fines Lynch for Hit on Clark - DenverBroncos.com - Andrew Mason
Wednesday, January 5, 2005 - The NFL proved to be the bearer of bad news for John Lynch. Three days after his jarring first-quarter hit on Colts tight end Dallas Clark, the 12-year veteran learned he'd be fined $75,000 for it. "I was certainly surprised," Lynch said. "There is an appeal process that's available to us and we'll take it up." Lynch intends to appeal the fine. "I'd just like to just say that throughout my career I was taught to play hard and I think I have throughout my career," Lynch said. "I think my reputation has preceded me in terms of playing hard and playing physically, but also I've taken great pride in playing within the rules. We have a difference of opinion with the league on this particular situation. "I'm not going to get into the details because it will be appealed and that's all I'd like to say. Again, I felt like I've stuck to what I've always tried to do – play hard and do my job to the best of my abilities. I really just want to focus on the game this week."

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