Around the League - Saturday, Oct. 8

The Denver Broncos haven't been passing deep much this season and have yet to hit on a deep pass. Their longest pass this year is 26 yards. Every other team in the NFL has completed a pass longer than that. The Broncos aren't concerned about the lack of deep balls because they are 3-1 and in first place in the AFC West.

Quarterback Michael Vick wants to start this week against New England, but Atlanta's franchise cornerstone continues to take a wait-and-see approach with his sore right knee.

He participated in a few practice drills for the second straight day. Based on how he feels once he arrives Sunday at the Georgia Dome, Vick will meet with coach Jim Mora and the team's medical staff before reaching a final decision.

"Yeah, it's getting better, and the only way I can tell that is when I go out there and try to do some things on it," Vick said after practice Thursday. "I'm trying to cut and plant a little bit and I can feel if I've progressed or digressed. I feel like today I progressed a little bit."

At least Vick's sprained medial collateral ligament has given Matt Schaub more snaps than he's accustomed to taking with the first-team offense. The extra work means a lot to a second-year quarterback who lost his one career start last season at New Orleans.

"It helps to see the looks that you watch on film," Schaub said. "Seeing them reacting and running their plays as opposed to sitting back with mental reps, watching someone else do it and then have to go in there and run them. I just need to get better and complete more balls, move the chains and be decisive with the football."

Schaub replaced Vick in the second quarter against Minnesota last week. The Falcons led 14-0 when Schaub took charge, and the former Virginia standout helped the offense get in position to score another 16 points.

As for Vick, his best news this week came when X-ray and MRI results were negative. The two-time Pro Bowl selection still can't believe that Erasmus James, the Vikings' rookie end, wasn't called for a late hit. Vick's knee hurt too much for him to spend energy complaining to officials at that time.

"Oh, I was scared, man, because my knee hit the ground so hard," Vick said. "It was a late hit, but they didn't throw a flag. Shocked me, but it hurt me. I was just holding it, hoping that it wasn't as serious as I thought. I was just thankful that it wasn't serious."

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DENVER BRONCOS
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HOT TOPIC

One year after throwing for a team record 4,089 yards, Denver Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer is on pace to barely crack 3,000 yards this season.

The Broncos haven't been passing deep much this season and have yet to hit on a deep pass. Their longest pass this year is 26 yards. Every other team in the NFL has completed a pass longer than that.

The Broncos aren't concerned about the lack of deep balls because they are 3-1 and in first place in the AFC West.

"So what if we throw the ball 5 yards?" receiver Rod Smith said. "We ain't got to throw the ball deep to win the game and it's about winning the game."

Ashley Lelie is the player whose numbers are way down this season. He averaged 20.1 yards per catch last year, which led the NFL, and he's averaging only 10.6 yards per catch this season. The Broncos have tried going deep to Lelie during games but haven't connected, and they say they aren't worried about Lelie making some big plays.

Being a little more conservative on offense has helped Plummer avoid throwing interceptions. He has only three through four games after throwing 20 last year.

The Broncos aren't getting played much differently defensively this season. They said that they are just running the ball well, so they see no need to pass deep.

"You got to do what you got to do to win and if it's running the ball for 200 and throwing it for 110, that's fine," Broncos offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak said. "One day you may have to throw it for 300 and rush for 100."

PLAYER NOTES

--CB Champ Bailey practiced again on Thursday. He will test his injured hamstring at full speed on Friday, but it appears he has a good chance at playing against Washington.

--CB Roc Alexander was out of practice once again with a hamstring injury on Thursday and he probably will not play this week. Alexander missed last week's game with the same injury.

--CB Karl Paymah will probably be active this week if Roc Alexander can't play. Paymah, a rookie, was active for the first time last week and played in Denver's nickel defense.

--LB Patrick Chukwurah practiced on Thursday and he might return to the lineup this week. He's a valuable backup but his real value to Denver is as a pass-rushing end in the nickel defense.

--QB Jake Plummer said he looks at his new role holding for kicker Jason Elam as a challenge. He has put in extra time before practice to hone his skills. Plummer hasn't held for field goals regularly since college.



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