Around the League - Friday, Sept. 30

Last Monday night, Denver Broncos defensive end Trevor Pryce answered any questions that might have been lingering about his ability to come back from back surgery that shortened his 2004 season. Read about Pryce and other Hot Topics about the Broncos in this edition of "Around the League."

A frustrated Willie Roaf would rather be doing practicing than doing the pool work and treadmill work and weight room regimen he's undergoing in an attempt to recover from a hamstring injury that has sidelined him for all but the first two series of the Chiefs' season.

Unfortunately, every time Roaf thinks he's ready to test his sore leg, he fails the test.

"I still can't just take off and run; I'm still dragging that leg," said the 320-pound 10-time Pro Bowl tackle. "We're not talking about hitting 280-pound linemen. We're just talking about trying to get out of a stance and take off running. I can't get my 300 pounds going.

"I can do stuff in the pool," he added. "They can put the treadmill on 6.0 (a mile in 10 minutes) and I'm fine. But when I get out on the field and try to run a sweep, I feel the scar tissue breaking up again and I've got to back off. I know it's not ready."

The Chiefs, in turn, don't appear ready for his absence.

They knew the day was coming soon when the 35-year-old Roaf wouldn't be clearing the road on runs to the left side, or capably protecting quarterback Trent Green's blind left side. They drafted Jordan Black in 2003 with the hope that the former Notre Dame player might someday be a starting left tackle.

Black might, in fact, handle the position capably in time. But that time hasn't arrived yet, even as Black awaits his third start this year Sunday against Philadelphia.

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DENVER BRONCOS
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HOT TOPIC

Last Monday night, Denver Broncos defensive end Trevor Pryce answered any questions that might have been lingering about his ability to come back from back surgery that shortened his 2004 season.

Pryce had only four tackles and no sacks against the Chiefs, but that didn't tell the story. Pryce had a great game, drawing many holding penalties. He pressured quarterback Trent Green 10 times, according to Denver's count.

Pryce had only three tackles through Denver's first two games. He played only two games last year because of surgery to fix a bulging disc in his back, so his dominant game against the Chiefs was a welcome sight.

"Oh, you know he had that kind of game in him," Broncos defensive coordinator Larry Coyer said. "It was great to see."

Pryce said he feels very good physically. He said his lack of production in the first two games had nothing to do with his back, but the game plan. Denver used a lot of zone blitzes in its first two games, but used the defensive line to get pressure on Green in Week 3.

When Denver jumped out to a 17-0 lead, Pryce was free to concentrate on getting to the quarterback because the Chiefs had to pass to try to get back in the game.

"It's like being a running back," Pryce said. "If you're a good running back, you want the ball. We were just getting, as a defensive line, opportunities to rush the passer because the passer was their offense."

PLAYER NOTES

--CB Champ Bailey said his injured hamstring is feeling better, but he doesn't know if he'll be able to participate in Friday's practice or play on Sunday at Jacksonville.
--CB Darrent Williams missed another day of practice with a sprained ankle. Williams will probably play on Sunday but Mike Shanahan has usually avoided starting rookies who don't practice during the week.
--CB Domonique Foxworth might get his first NFL start this week. If Champ Bailey can't play and the Broncos decide that Darrent Williams -- who didn't practice on Wednesday or Thursday because of a sprained ankle - isn't ready to start, Foxworth would be next in line.
--WR Ashley Lelie was one of the best deep threats in the league last year but he hasn't connected for any long plays with Jake Plummer yet this season. Lelie said he's not worried, even though teams have given him a little more respect by sometimes playing a safety over the top in coverage.
--FB Kyle Johnson is a dependable, smart player and his ability to run with the ball has allowed the Broncos to run fake dive plays to him and pitch out to the tailback because the defense has to respect the fake to Johnson.



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