Broncos Update Insider - Sunday, July 17

With the opening of training camp less than two weks away, Broncos Update takes an Inside Slant at where the team stands at this point and where they appear headed in 2005

Denver Broncos cornerback Roc Alexander took a lot of the blame for last season's 49-24 playoff loss at Indianapolis.

Alexander was beat repeatedly by Colts receiver Reggie Wayne, who finished that game with 10 catches for 221 yards and two touchdowns.

"It took me a while to get back to it, a couple months to get my mind right," Alexander said.

Broncos defensive coordinator Larry Coyer said Alexander wasn't at fault for what happened in that game. Alexander was a rookie last year and he was pressed into service when Lenny Walls and Willie Middlebrooks suffered season-ending injuries and Denver didn't have any other options.

Coyer said putting an inexperienced rookie in a playoff game against the best offense in the NFL was unfair.

"We put him in a bad deal," Coyer said. "What we've got to do is grow to where we don't ever do that again."

Alexander needs to put that playoff game behind him quickly, because he faces a lot of competition to make the team this year. The Broncos drafted three rookies at cornerback in April.

Alexander will have a chance to win the wide-open nickel cornerback competition, assuming he bounces back strong. Alexander has good speed and played well at times last season, and could be a natural playing against the slot receiver.

However, his confidence after playing poorly on a very public stage last year in the playoffs will also be a factor.

"Last year is last year, I just have to get better," Alexander said. "You dwell on last year you won't be heard from for a long time. I just keep fighting. I don't worry about what happened last year."

CAMP CALENDAR: Camp opens July 29 for rookies and veterans; the Broncos will hold joint practices with the Texans in Houston Aug. 10-11; camp closes on Aug. 18.

NOTES, QUOTES
--The Broncos were the only NFL team to hold a minicamp in July, and coach Mike Shanahan rewarded the players on the final day of it. In a team meeting before practice, Shanahan told the team they were going bowling instead.

"It was a great surprise," receiver Rod Smith said.

The Broncos have a bowling competition every year during training camp -- although it doesn't usually preempt a practice. The offense, defense and coaches bowl against each other with the winning unit taking home a huge trophy. The coaches won this year.

"At least we beat the defense," Smith said.

--Former Broncos cornerback Willie Middlebrooks said being traded to San Francisco for defensive end John Engelberger might end up being a good thing, but it was still difficult to leave Denver.

"The tough thing is we have good coaches and a good organization and I'm close with a lot of my teammates," said Middlebrooks, a first-round pick in 2001 who was injured for most of his four seasons in Denver. "You get close to guys and that's the hard part about getting traded."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "These guys have been working extremely hard. It was a little reward for these guys." -- Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, who took his team bowling instead of practicing on the final day of the team's minicamp.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
UNIT BY UNIT ANALYSIS
QUARTERBACK: Starter -- Jake Plummer. Backups -- Danny Kanell, Matt Mauck, Bradlee Van Pelt.

RUNNING BACKS: Starters -- RB Tatum Bell, FB Kyle Johnson. Backups -- RB Mike Anderson, RB Quentin Griffin, RB Ron Dayne, RB Maurice Clarett, FB Cecil Sapp.

TIGHT ENDS: Starter -- Jeb Putzier. Backups -- Patrick Hape, Stephen Alexander, Nate Jackson, Mike Leach.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters -- Rod Smith, Ashley Lelie. Backups -- Darius Watts, Jerry Rice, Triandos Luke, Charlie Adams, B.J. Johnson.

OFFENSIVE LINE: Starters -- LT Matt Lepsis, LG Ben Hamilton, C Tom Nalen, RG Cooper Carlisle, RT George Foster. Backups -- T Anthony Clement, T Dwayne Carswell, T Cornell Green, C Josh Sewell, C/G Chris Myers, G Tim Stuber, G Cameron Spikes, G Tyson Clabo.

DEFENSIVE LINE: Starters -- SDE Courtney Brown, DT Gerard Warren, DT Mario Fatafehi, WDE Trevor Pryce. Backups -- DE Ebenezer Ekuban, DE Anton Palepoi, DT Monsanto Pope, DT Dorsett Davis, DT Luther Elliss, DE Marco Coleman, DE Chukie Nwokorie, DT Michael Myers, DE John Engelberger, DE Raylee Johnson.

LINEBACKERS: Starters -- WLB Ian Gold, MLB Al Wilson, SLB D.J. Williams. Backups: MLB Patrick Chukwurah, SLB/MLB Terry Pierce, OLB Jashon Sykes, MLB Keith Burns, OLB Louis Green, OLB Markus Steele.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- CB Champ Bailey, CB Lenny Walls, SS Nick Ferguson, FS John Lynch. Backups -- CB Darrent Williams, CB Karl Paymah, CB Domonique Foxworth, CB Roc Alexander, CB Jeff Shoate, S Sam Brandon, S Chris Young, S Jeremy LeSueur, S/CB Brandon Browner.

SPECIAL TEAMS: K Jason Elam, P Todd Sauerbrun, KR/PR Darrent Williams, LS Mike Leach, LS Chris Myers, P/K Paul Ernster.

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