On a night when it was probably better to be at home sipping hot chocolate curled up on the couch watching the Broncos rather than at INVESCO Field; one man left his mocha and marshmallows in the cupboard and came out to play some football.
That man was Tatum Bell. Bell, the second year back-up running back from Oklahoma State ran wild on the Washington Redskins Sunday afternoon, 127 yards and 2 TD's. "He really stepped up," head coach Mike Shannahan commented.
Bell had a break out year in 2004. He led all other rookies with 396 yards on 75 carries and three TD's. He showed some potential on the field, but seemed to be a little fragile, breaking his finger the first day of camp and separating his shoulder later in the year. The thing with the word potential is, you take it out on the field and see if it gets you past the first Ray Lewis; probably not.
Bell was slated to be the starter at the beginning of training camp in 2005, but fell out of the coaches' graces by again having minor injuries during camp. His inconsistent play also contributed to him not getting the nod as the opening day starter. That job was given to the veteran Mike Anderson. Anderson's steady style is what the coaches admire.
The former Oklahoma State running back knows that he has some things to work on. "I need to be more consistent in practice" he said. He may need to be more consistent in practice, but when it came to totting the rock last Sunday, he seemed to be one step ahead of the soggy Redskin's Defense.
The 34 yard TD run was on a 4-1 from the Washington 34 yard line. The call was a sweep left that seemed to be sniffed out by the "D", but Bell with his good vision saw a seam and cut it back. That one instinctive move resulted in a Denver touchdown. It was Denver's first touchdown of the evening. The second displayed his breakaway speed, as the play went right and he just out ran the Redskin's defensive backs like they were frozen by the Mile High drizzle.
When Lelie was asked if he and the rest of his teammates knew that the back-up running back had a game in him like that, he replied, "Of course we knew he had it in him." Tatum knows it too, "I come into every game ready to run the ball." Let's hope it's not the typical athlete boasting; because the Broncos could really use an explosive back.
Tatum's not satisfied with his one good game this year. "I want to be the starter. I don't want to be a one hit wonder." Well Tatum, there are no Timmy Smith comparisons in your future.
Tatum Bells ability to elude defenders and out run most of the guys on the defensive side of the ball; make him a bonafide threat in regards to the job security of Anderson's starting spot. Nothing like some good healthy competition to bring out the best in men, just ask the gladiators of ancient Rome.
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