It was a problem that plagued them the entire 2004 season, so Mike Shanahan broke out the full pads, and the Denver Broncos offense spent the better part the past two days working on their red zone efficiency and goal-line situation drills.
While the added practice was certainly much needed on the offense side, it's taken its' toll on Denver's defense. First, was the elbow dislocation of defensive end Courtney Brown on Thursday, followed by today's possibly torn MCL to starting defensive tackle Mario Fatafehi.
"We believe, at least right now without taking an MRI, that it's a second degree MCL, which can have him out anywhere from one week to three weeks," Shanahan told reporters. "We'll find out for sure .… the MRI is going on right now and as soon as we know, we will let you know."
Despite the injuries, Denver's defense held their ground on Saturday, giving up only four touchdowns, three of which came off running plays during the grueling 20-minute session. The lone touchdown pass came when backup quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt found Nate Jackson in the corner of the end-zone on a 10-yard score.
Things got so bad for the Broncos offense Shanahan stopped practice twice to voice his displeasure. Further evidence came when he had the players remove the pads, continued the practice, then became so frustrated he brought the pads back out for the remainder of the session.
The reasoning was simple according to Shanahan; "Once we took our pads off, we didn't practice very well, which is the reason we put the pads back on."
On again, off again – eerily similar to the Broncos 2004 season, leading you to understand the seriousness of Broncos 2005, where there is no room for on again, off again.
It's a pretty simple concept - successful teams score inside the red-zone, ie: New England, Philadelphia and Indianapolis. Teams that don't score inside the red zone do not win football games, or at least important football games, i.e. the post - Elway Denver Broncos, i.e. the post-season Denver Broncos.
Five days from today the Broncos preseason begins, one hundred fifty - two days from today the NFL Playoffs begin.
Somewhere in between we'll see if Mike Shanahan's petulance finally pays off.
Michael John Schon has covered the National Football League and the Denver Broncos for the past nine years. As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association he has published and syndicated columns in both newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and Canada. His syndicated radio broadcast: "Schon Live" airs weekly on various radio stations around the country.
Schon can be reached at Schon@prostarmediagroup.net
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