Around the League - Wednesday, Oct. 19

Denver Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer found himself in the middle of another controversy after calling to criticize a local gossip columnist after she reported that Plummer was dating a Broncos cheerleader. Read more on Plummer and other Hot Topics about the Denver Broncos in today's edition of "Around the League."

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Tim Rattay was acquired by the Bucs Monday in exchange for an undisclosed draft pick.

The move addresses the Bucs' quarterback shortage following a possible season-ending knee injury to starter Brian Griese.

Rattay, a sixth-year veteran, lost his job to No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith after four weeks. Monday's transaction beat the 4 p.m. trading deadline.

To make room for Rattay, the Bucs released fullback Rick Razzano.

Griese suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee against the Dolphins when linebacker Zach Thomas rolled up on him.

Griese was replaced by third-year pro Chris Simms, who went 6-of-10 for 69 yards in relief.

The Bucs' No. 3 quarterback, Luke McCown, also is from Louisiana Tech.

Under the best-case scenario, Simms will start against the 49ers in two weeks and try to build on the Bucs' 5-1 record, the best in the NFC. Under the circumstances, Griese's injury couldn't have come at a better time, with the Bucs heading into their bye week.

"What you have to like is how he handled the situation, how he handled the team, his calmness, how he ran the team," quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett said of Simms. "Certainly, he made some nice throws coming out in the second half, completed seven in a row, and that had a huge impact. But I think it was his calmness, his confidence in feeling, hey, I'm in my third year in the system. You don't ever want it to happen like it happened, but it did.

"We always used to say if something happens early in the season, the backup quarterback is best prepared because he's had all of training camp. Now what we say is the next best thing for it to happen, if it has to happen, is during the bye. Because it gives you your second chance to get him back in the rhythm."

DENVER BRONCOS

HOT TOPIC

Denver Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer found himself in the middle of another controversy after calling to criticize a local gossip columnist after she reported that Plummer was dating a Broncos cheerleader.

According to Rocky Mountain News columnist Penny Parker, Plummer called her and delivered an obscenity-laced tirade after she wrote that Plummer introduced Broncos cheerleader Kollette Klassen as his girlfriend at a dinner for his foundation.

Plummer met with Broncos coach Mike Shanahan to discuss the incident.

"Whether people see me as an evil person or see me as a person that wears my emotions on my sleeve and reacts some way, sometimes I don't react the right way," Plummer said. "There's no real guide to how to do this."

Plummer has been involved in similar controversy. He made an obscene gesture at a heckling fan during a game last season and was fined $5,000 by the NFL.

Plummer said he was upset with Parker's column because he did not want Klassen identified because she could be singled out at Broncos games and heckled if he doesn't play well.

"Whether it's about your wife, your children, I just don't think that's part of what we're doing here," Plummer said. "What we're doing here is playing football."

PLAYER NOTES

--QB Jake Plummer is doing exactly what the Broncos are asking him to do. He's managing the offense and not making mistakes, especially in the red zone. Plummer hasn't thrown an interception in four weeks.

--QB Bradlee Van Pelt didn't play against New England and hasn't played this season.

--RB Mike Anderson isn't Denver's leading rusher anymore - backup Tatum Bell is - but Anderson is having a solid year. He is averaging 4.1 yards per carry and has a couple of touchdowns. Anderson is a powerful runner and the Broncos trust him in all situations.

--RB Tatum Bell's 6.8 yards per carry average is the best among all running backs with at least 250 rushing yards. The Broncos are winning and they aren't inclined to change their tailback rotation, so Bell will probably be limited to about 15 carries per game for the foreseeable future.

--WR Rod Smith had his longest play of the season on Sunday. He beat Patriots cornerback Duane Starks deep for a 72-yard catch that set up a touchdown. Smith is still Denver's best receiver.

--WR Ashley Lelie might be coming around. He made a 55-yard catch against the Patriots. The week before he scored his first red-zone touchdown since 2002. The Broncos need Lelie to be a deep threat that other teams have to respect.

--WR Charlie Adams didn't catch a pass against New England. It was the first time this season he has been shut out in a game.

--TE Jeb Putzier showed some toughness by going back in the game shortly after a hard hit by Patriots CB Asante Samuel. Putzier made a nice play on Denver's last drive to pick up a key first down.

--K Jason Elam hasn't attempted a field goal in two weeks. He has hit all seven of his extra-point attempts.

--S Marques Anderson caught Denver's eye with a big game against the Broncos last year, when Anderson was with the Raiders. Anderson might have to start for Denver this week because safeties Nick Ferguson and Sam Brandon are banged up.

--CB Champ Bailey only played a little more than two quarters against New England but he was a big difference-maker. The Broncos led 28-3 when his hamstring tightened up and he was taken out of the game. They were outscored 17-0 in the final quarter and a half he was out.

--DE Courtney Brown continues to play well for the Broncos. He has been healthy since suffering an elbow injury in training camp and has shown why the Broncos were so excited about him when they signed him. If Brown can stay healthy he helps to make Denver one of the best defensive lines in the NFL.



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