Broncos Update Insider - Thursday, Nov. 10

Mike Anderson's health is a big factor for the Denver Broncos if they want to make a run at a division title in the second half of the season, and the good news is Anderson feels better at midseason than he has in a long time. Read more about Anderson and all the latest from the Broncos's in today's team report.

Mike Anderson's health is a big factor for the Denver Broncos if they want to make a run at a division title in the second half of the season, and the good news is Anderson feels better at midseason than he has in a long time.

Anderson has benefited from Denver's tailback committee. He hasn't been overworked, which has kept his 32-year-old body fresh. Anderson will be a big factor on Sunday when the Broncos play the Oakland Raiders, who are giving up 115.6 rushing yards per game.

"I feel great," Anderson said. "My mind is in it and my whole body feels fine."

Anderson has 133 carries through eight games, which is certainly a manageable number for a starting NFL tailback. The result is he is healthy - he said he is completely healed from a painful rib injury he suffered in the first week of the season and has no other nagging problems - and he isn't pacing himself.

Anderson has been running hard all season. He is averaging 4.5 yards per carry and has impressed teammates with the power he is showing.

"Absolutely, particularly some of the runs in the Philly game and the Giants game," fullback Kyle Johnson said. "Just throwing guys off who are in position. They're doing the things a defensive player is taught to tackle properly and they can't make the tackle, and that's a credit to how hard he's running."

Anderson sat out all of last year with two torn groin muscles, an injury suffered in a preseason game. He is just happy to be back at his old form, so splitting carries with backup Tatum Bell isn't much of an issue to him.

"It's not about being the guy," Anderson said. "It's not about that. It's nice to get the carries but I'm so glad to be back on the field after what I went through last year. It's a blessing."

Anderson also knows that sharing carries has helped himself and the Broncos. Anderson's smashing style has softened up defenses for Bell, whose speed makes him a threat for a long run on every carry. Denver ranks second in the league in rushing offense behind their tailback duo.

And Anderson can be confident that he'll be able to run hard in November and December, when most backs are feeling the effects of 300 or more carries.

"It's helping us right now," Anderson said. "We're doing well and both of us are healthy. Any running back in this league, 25, 30 carries will wear you down."

SERIES HISTORY: 90th meeting. The Oakland Raiders lead the series over the Denver Broncos 53-34-2. The two teams have split two playoff games. The rivalry has always been heated and it will continue to be at least as long as Mike Shanahan is Denver's coach. Shanahan still has a feud with Raiders owner Al Davis, who fired Shanahan in 1989.

NOTES, QUOTES --Cornerback Champ Bailey should be ready to go for this week's matchup against Raiders receiver Randy Moss. Bailey is listed as probable on the injury report and practiced at full speed on Wednesday, the first time in weeks he hasn't been limited in practice.

"He looked pretty good out there," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said.

--The Broncos have high hopes for the second half of the season. They lead the AFC West and want to make a charge towards home-field advantage in the playoffs in the second half of the season.

"The latter part of the year we have five away games, and we got to get at least three or four of those five away games to have the chance to get home field," defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban said.

--The week the Broncos play the Raiders is always a bit more intense for the team and especially its fans. That should help the Broncos avoid any letdown after they bye week.

"I think you always look forward to competing against a team on the division, especially on the road," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "One of our first goals was to win our division, and if you're going to win your division you got to win these games within the division, especially on the road."

The Broncos have a lot of young players but those who haven't played in the rivalry already have a good feeling of its significance.

"It's an important game because it's a divisional game, and it's added importance because it's the Raiders," rookie cornerback Domonique Foxworth said. "Being a rookie I'm not privy to all of the previous games, but I understand the magnitude."

BY THE NUMBERS: 12-4 - The Broncos' record in the game following their bye week since the bye was introduced in 1990. Only Minnesota and Philadelphia, which are each 13-4, have better records in the game after their bye week.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Back then, Al (Davis) was throwing the batteries at me from the press box." - Broncos coach Mike Shanahan when asked if Raiders fans ever threw anything at him when he was the Raiders' coach.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

Once safety Sam Brandon returns from a pectoral injury, the Broncos will have a lot of versatility in their secondary. Brandon is Denver's primary backup safety but he has played a lot in Denver's nickel packages because of his coverage skills.

The Broncos have also been pleased with Curome Cox, a natural cornerback who can also play safety. He took Brandon's spot in the "big nickel" packages when Brandon was out, and his solid play gives the Broncos additional options in their defensive packages.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--DT Gerard Warren has two sacks this season. He is the only Bronco that has more than one sack this season. Nine Broncos players have at least one sack.

--S John Lynch had an interception in Denver's last game, against Philadelphia. The Broncos now had seven has a team, which isn't the type of improvement they were hoping for in that category. But they got two in their last game, which might mean they will start to get more in the second half of the season.

--G Taylor Whitley, who was acquired by the Broncos shortly after Dwayne Carswell suffered season-ending injuries in a car accident, is listed as Denver' primary backup at both guard positions. He has more experience than rookie Chris Myers, who was the backup guard when Carswell was out.

--DT Monsanto Pope has been inactive since Denver's first game. A former starter, Pope was passed on the depth chart by Demetrin Veal and hasn't been able to get back on the field.

--CB Karl Paymah has been playing better for the Broncos after a slow start. The rookie third-round pick is a physical player who had to get used to the difference between college and the pros when it came to defending physical receivers.



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