Denver Broncos Team Report 10/6/05

Former Denver Broncos running back Clinton Portis makes his first return to Invesco Field since the blockbuster trade that sent him to Washington in excange for cornerback Champ Bailey.

The Denver Broncos haven't heard much from their former teammate Clinton Portis this week.

The Washington Redskins running back hasn't called to talk trash or offer any bold predictions, which is strange for the outspoken former Bronco.

"Knowing him, he's probably going to be low-key about it," said Broncos linebacker Keith Burns, one of Portis' former teammates and friends.

"He's not going to be as flamboyant as he usually is because of the simple fact that he really knows most of the guys around here."

Portis was a star in Denver. He rushed for more than 1,500 yards in each of his two seasons and had 29 rushing touchdowns. Even though he was not with the Broncos long, he ranks sixth on the team's all-time leading rushing list.

Portis fit Denver's offense very well because he could run laterally, make his cut and was a threat to go the distance because of his blazing speed, but Portis was usually griping about his contract, something that didn't sit well with the organization. Knowing the Broncos weren't going to overpay for any running back, they shipped him to Washington for Champ Bailey and a second-round pick that was used to select Tatum Bell.

"With Clinton not happy with his contract and Clinton not being here in the off-season program the year before and the possible problems that I saw coming with Clinton, I said 'This could be a slam dunk,'" Shanahan said before training camp last year. " 'The only guy I'll trade Clinton for is Champ Bailey."

The Broncos don't have the same home-run threat at running back they had when Portis was in Denver. Tatum Bell has great speed and has shown flashes but hasn't been a consistent back like Portis was.

Denver has still been able to run the ball without Portis. Reuben Droughns had 1,240 yards last season and Denver ranks third in the NFL in rushing offense at 144.2 yards per game.

The Broncos and Redskins both say the trade benefited each team. The Redskins got the running back they wanted and Denver got a shutdown cornerback.

Portis often was outlandish during his Broncos career, once donning a championship belt on the sideline at the end of a win over Kansas City. But he wasn't predicting a big game this week.

"I don't have any predictions for me because you never know what's going to happen," Portis said. "I think in this offense I've taken on the role of whatever it takes to help this team win. It's not about me."

Portis said he didn't know what kind of reception he would get in Denver when he returns on Sunday.

"I never really had a farewell," Portis said. "This came out of the blue. Just to see what the fans think, whether they appreciated me or not, we'll find out on Sunday."

10th meeting The Denver Broncos lead the series 5-4, but the Washington Redskins have a pretty important postseason win. The Redskins blew out Denver in Super Bowl XXII. Washington scored 35 points in the second quarter and sent John Elway to his second of three Super Bowl losses.

--This week's game was supposed to feature the two major players in last year's blockbuster trade, Denver cornerback Champ Bailey and Washington running back Clinton Portis, battling against their former teams. But Bailey is still banged up, nursing a hamstring injury that kept him out of last week's game.

Bailey did return to practice on Wednesday and hopes to play. He is listed as questionable on the injury report. The Broncos didn't practice at full speed on Wednesday so the team won't know until later in the week if Bailey will be ready.

"If I can run, I'll play," Bailey said.

--Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer wasn't fined for not wearing a "Futbol Americano" sticker on his helmet last week. The stickers were issued to promote the NFL playing a regular-season game in Mexico. Last year Plummer was threatened with a $30,000 fine for wearing a helmet sticker that honored his former college and pro teammate Pat Tillman without NFL authorization.

"It's just something I did," Plummer said. "I think you know I have a history with decals so I want to move on. I'm not going to sit here and tell you my reasons because it wouldn't be fair. I think you can understand why it happened."

--Broncos coach Mike Shanahan was not worried about his team overlooking the Redskins, even though New England is next on the schedule. He said he respects the 3-0 Redskins.

"I'd say that the only type of game that you really worry about are the games where people think that team isn't very good," Shanahan said. "The thing about our schedule this year is that no one thinks that we have a gimme game."

Tatum Bell has averaged 5.1 yards per carry since he was drafted by Denver in 2004. Clinton Portis has averaged 3.9 yards per carry since Washington acquired him from Denver for Champ Bailey and a draft pick the Broncos used to take Bell.

"We feel good about it, and I'm sure they do as well." - Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, evaluating the trade that sent Clinton Portis to Washington and brought Champ Bailey to Denver.

Cornerback Curome Cox helped the Broncos in a pinch during last week's game against Jacksonville. He was signed from the practice squad and played a few series on defense because Lenny Walls was having cramps. But Cox was cut on Monday to make room for rookie offensive lineman Chris Myers. Cox was re-signed to the practice squad after clearing waivers.

--CB Domonique Foxworth could end up being Denver's nickel cornerback even if Champ Bailey returns to the starting lineup this week. Foxworth is coming off a great game against Jacksonville and Lenny Walls is struggling.
--RB Ron Dayne was used in a short-yardage situation against Jacksonville and didn't convert on a third and 1. Dayne has never been a great short-yardage back in the NFL, but the Broncos say they might continue to use him in those situations.
--FB Cecil Sapp has played well whenever he has gotten a chance. He is a good athlete and a special-teams contributor and the Broncos wouldn't be too worried about using him for an extended time if needed.
--LB Patrick Chukwurah's injury that kept him out of last week's game not only meant that the Broncos were short a backup linebacker, but also a pass rusher at defensive end in the nickel defense. Chukwurah is also a special-teams contributor so his return will be important for Denver.
--WR David Terrell hasn't been active for a game for Denver yet, and it is going to be his fifth game with the team this week. The Broncos wanted to take a long look at Terrell because of his talent but Denver's top three receivers are still playing well.

The Broncos' defense has been playing almost perfect football for 2 1/2 weeks. The Redskins have a couple of big-play threats, Clinton Portis and Santana Moss, whom they'll have to keep in front of them. Other than those two, Washington's offense isn't that scary. Denver might get some chances for turnovers.

Offensively, maybe this is the week Denver opens up their offense. The Broncos have been a little conservative the first few weeks, but they have been able to play that way because their defense is playing so well.

Redskins ORT Jon Jansen vs. Broncos DE Courtney Brown.
When these two go against each other -- Brown plays Denver's strong-side end spot -- it will be an impressive matchup of power vs. power. Brown has played well since he recovered from a dislocated elbow injury. Brown is one of the strongest linemen the Broncos have had in a while.

Broncos WR Ashley Lelie vs. Redskins CB Carlos Rogers.
If Rogers has to start again in place of Walt Harris, maybe Lelie can get going against him. Lelie hasn't been much of a factor this season but the Broncos say he will get some big plays. Rogers won't be an easy target, however. He's a talented corner that was a first-round pick.

CB Champ Bailey (hamstring) practiced on Wednesday. He did all of the drills but it wasn't a full speed practice. The Broncos say they should have a better idea on Friday if Bailey will play this week.
CB Darrent Williams (ankle) practiced and will play against Washington this week, barring a setback.
CB Roc Alexander (hamstring) is still sidelined. He didn't practice on Wednesday and might be inactive for the second straight week.
LB Louis Green (hamstring) returned to practice. He is a key special teams contributor so the Broncos hope he's ready for this week's game.
LB Patrick Chukwurah (thigh, ankle) practiced on Wednesday. He will be evaluated through the week.

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