It may only be preseason, but for the Denver Broncos defensive backfield it's a matter of pride when it comes to facing the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night.
After being torched for eight-hundred thirty five yards and nine touchdowns by Peyton Manning in their last two playoff losses, Denver made the unprecedented move of drafting three consecutive cornerbacks in the 2005 NFL Draft.
Toss in the off-season acquisition of the Cleveland Browns defensive line, and it's easy to understand the goal for 2005 – contain Indianapolis and get past the first round of the NFL playoffs.
"It's all about going out against Indianapolis," linebacker Keith Burns said. "Some people say preseason doesn't mean anything, but to us, this game means a whole lot."
…You can expect third round draft pick Maurice Calrett to be released by the Denver Broncos, either in their first round of cuts on Aug. 30, or their second round of cuts on Sept.4th.
According to inside sources, the Broncos have decided against placing the high-profile rookie on the injured reserve list, a move that would have sidelined Clarett for the upcoming season, giving him a chance to recover from a groin injury, suffered during the first week of training camp.
So far Clarett's first stint in the NFL has been far from spectacular.
After rejecting a $410,000 in signing bonus, in favor of a $7 million contract worth of incentives, the former Ohio State Buckeye infuriated teammates by holding several national television interviews before even setting foot on the field of Dove Valley.
The early camp injury only aggravated a tense situation, leaving Clarett at number five in an already overcrowded backfield position.
…San Diego Chargers first round draft pick Shawne Merriman was injured during the first quarter of Friday night's 19-16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, when the rookie linebacker was headed downfield in kickoff coverage.
"I got tripped up and got my knee driven straight into the ground," Merriman told reporters. "I'm feeling pretty good now. They just didn't want to risk it. I actually asked to go out in the second half and play."
The extent of the injury is not known, but Chargers officials will be taking a very cautious approach with the twenty-one year old throughout the upcoming week. Merriman skipped the teams' off season workout program on the advice of his agent, missed the first week of training camp while his contract was being negotiated and missed the opening exhibition game against the Green Bay Packers.
…There were some pretty scary moments at Lambeau Field when Green Bay Packers wide receiver Antonio Chatman fell to the turf with a neck injury during Friday night's game against New England.
Chatman was injured when he collided with Patriots safety Rodney Harrison during Asante Samuel's interception return. The Packers number four receiver lay motionless on the field for several minutes before he was wheeled off the field on a stretcher with his head immobilized.
"He had movement in his extremities but was experiencing tingling in his arms," team officials reported.
…Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer defensive tackle Darrell Russell had his drug suspension lifted by the NFL on Friday, and is now free to sign with any team that may be interested.
Whether or not anyone is actually interested remains to be seen. After appearing in two consecutive Pro Bowls, Russell fell from grace with two failed drug tests as well as a charge of being an accomplice in a sexual assault case against two friends.
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 to 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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