Denver Broncos Hot Topics - Monday, Nov. 28

All Ron Dayne has done when he has been given the ball by the Denver Broncos is make plays, but he was only playing against the Cowboys because Tatum Bell was inactive. Dayne has been buried behind Mike Anderson and Bell most of the season. Read more about Dayne in today's edition of "Hot Topics."

DENVER BRONCOS
HOT TOPIC

All Ron Dayne has done when he has been given the ball by the Denver Broncos is make plays.

Dayne played very well in the preseason, and he led Denver's game-winning drive in Week 2 against San Diego. On Thursday, he had 98 yards on seven carries against Dallas. He had a touchdown in the third quarter, and his 55-yard run in overtime set up a game-winning field goal by Jason Elam.

But Dayne was only playing against the Cowboys because Tatum Bell was inactive. Dayne has been buried behind Mike Anderson and Bell most of the season, and even after his heroics against Dallas, he might not get much more playing time.

"I don't know," Dayne said. "I'm just glad we were able to win. Whenever they need me again, I'll be ready."

Dayne fits Denver's offense very well. He ran behind a similar zone-running scheme in college at the University of Wisconsin, and he won the Heisman Trophy in 1999.

The Broncos are simply too deep at tailback for Dayne to get many carries. Anderson is on pace for almost 1,200 yards, and Bell also has a chance at 1,000 yards.

Bell, who was out with a bruised chest, is averaging 6 yards per carry. He likely will return for Denver's next game, which means someone will be the odd man out unless Denver figures out a way to rotate all three tailbacks.

"I'll think we'll try to work on that," Anderson said. "We'll try to figure out a way."

REPLAY

Ron Dayne's 55-yard run in overtime set up a 24-yard field goal by Jason Elam, and Denver tipped Dallas 24-21 in a thriller at Texas Stadium.

The Broncos had a hard time moving the ball before Dayne's long run. Dayne was Denver's player of the game against Dallas. He had seven carries for 98 yards. He had a 14-yard run in the first quarter that set up a touchdown, scored on a 16-yard run in the third quarter and then broke free for a big run in overtime.

The Broncos defense held Dallas to 85 rushing yards on 32 carries and scored a big touchdown in the first quarter. Cornerback Champ Bailey intercepted an overthrown pass by Drew Bledsoe and returned it 65 yards for a touchdown.

PLAYER NOTES

--WR Rod Smith caught his fifth touchdown of the season against Dallas. He hasn't had more than seven touchdowns in a season since 2001, but he has a chance to top that mark this year.

--LB D.J. Williams played more snaps than usual because the Broncos didn't use their nickel defense much against Dallas. Williams responded with a team-high eight tackles.

--LB Keith Burns injured his knee against Dallas. The injury isn't expected to keep Burns out long. He is Denver's best special teams player.

--WR Ashley Lelie didn't catch a pass against Dallas. He was knocked out of the game with a mild concussion in the fourth quarter when he attempted to block Cowboys S Roy Williams and Williams nailed him.

--OT Cornell Green left Denver's game against Dallas with a strained shoulder, but he should be fine. Green has been rotating at right tackle with George Foster.

AROUND THE LEAGUE:
David Garrard is going to get his long-awaited chance to prove he can be a starting quarterback in the league.

In the wake of the injury Byron Leftwich suffered against the Arizona Cardinals last week, Garrard is likely to be the starter the rest of the season.

Coach Jack Del Rio first described Leftwich's injury as a broken foot, but then said, "I am not sure which particular bone, but it looks like he has a crack in the ankle."

Del Rio said the best case scenario would be that Leftwich would be out a month, but he added, "It could be worse."

Drafted on the fourth round of the 2002 draft, Garrard has started only three games in his career while backing up Mark Brunell and Leftwich.

He was 1-1 last year when he subbed for Leftwich for two games after Leftwich suffered a knee injury.

Garrard, who had taken just one snap in a game all season, was obviously rusty as he threw for just 115 yards and threw four consecutive incompletions after Deon Grant intercepted a Kurt Warner pass at the Arizona 32 in the second period.

But he didn't commit any turnovers and displayed his trademark scrambling ability as he ran six times for 61 yards.

Garrard came in with the Jaguars at midfield and threw three completions before running 16 yards for a touchdown on a bootleg to complete a 67-yard drive.

That was Jacksonville's only sustained touchdown drive of the game, as its other two touchdowns came on two big plays.

Derrick Wimbush returned a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. Greg Jones ran 25 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter on the first play after the Warner threw an incomplete pass on fourth down.

Garrard said he just has to lead the team to victories and said, "I don't have to go out and be Superman.

"This is what you dream about as a kid. This is what I've been dreaming out as a professional athlete because I've been the backup my entire career, the chance to be able to finish the season and possibly take the team to the playoffs. You can't ask for anything better than that. I have to step up as a man and a player and do my job."

The Jaguars gave him a chance to seek a trade in the offseason, but they wanted a first-round pick in return.

When Garrard found out that no other team was willing to offer him its starting job or give up a first-round pick for him, he decided to stay in Jacksonville. He decided to give up unrestricted free agency at the end of the season in exchange for a contract extension that included a $2 million signing bonus.

Now is his chance to prove he can be a starter.



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