In the past three weeks, the Denver Broncos' running game hasn't disappeared, but it hasn't been the same either.
Denver is averaging about 45 fewer yards per game the past three weeks than it did in the first 10 weeks. The low point for the running game came against Baltimore.
"Coach told us that was our worst game," Broncos running back Tatum Bell said. "We had 32 carries for 90-something yards (96). We have to find ways to make plays."
Broncos starter Mike Anderson has had an especially tough time in recent weeks. Anderson has averaged less than 3 yards per carry for three straight games.
Anderson said his confidence hasn't changed through his slump.
"I'm not shook," Anderson said.
Anderson got eight carries last week against Baltimore, and backup Bell got 16. Anderson said he didn't see that as a shift in the structure of the Broncos' rotation. Anderson said he didn't think Bell would take more of his carries as the team moves forward.
"No, I don't," Anderson said. "I don't."
--DE Courtney Brown practiced on Wednesday and Thursday with no problems after missing practice Tuesday with a sore knee. Brown is expected to play against Buffalo.
--T Cornell Green is listed as questionable with a separated shoulder, but he practiced all week. He should be available for this week's game.
--CB Curome Cox is taking over as Denver's nickel cornerback as long as Darrent Williams is out with a groin injury. Cox shouldn't have any assignment problems. He studies hard and knows the defense well for a player who doesn't have much experience.
--DT Gerard Warren will be a free agent at the end of the season. He said he hopes to work out a deal with the Broncos. He has enjoyed his first season in Denver. He has often praised coach Mike Shanahan and has rejuvenated his career after underachieving in Cleveland.
--CB Champ Bailey has eight interceptions this season, a career high. But his chances of getting his ninth interception this week probably went down when Kelly Holcomb was named Buffalo's starter. J.P. Losman, who is injured, is more prone to mistakes than the veteran Holcomb.
AROUND THE LEAGUE:
The Minnesota Vikings' preparations for Sunday's game against Pittsburgh were interrupted Thursday as charges were handed down against four players involved in the now infamous boat party on Lake Minnetonka in October.
Quarterback Daunte Culpepper, running back Moe Williams, cornerback Fred Smoot and left tackle Bryant McKinnie were charged with misdemeanors alleging lewd or indecent conduct. Culpepper and Williams are both out for the season because of knee injuries.
The players each were charged with one count of indecent conduct, one count of disorderly conduct and one count of lewd and lascivious conduct. All are misdemeanor charges.
"We've been down this road with other players before, and I'll just let you know, as it pertains to any type of punishment or this or that, according to NFL rules and union contracts, there is a big difference between allegations, charges and convictions," coach Mike Tice said.
"So until at any point there is a conviction of any type, if there is, I have no actions to take and nothing to say."
The maximum penalty on each charge is 90 days in jail or a $1,000 fine. The players are set to make court appearances on Jan. 5. Hennepin County Sheriff Patrick McGowan said the investigation from the Oct. 6 party identified 30 Vikings as being on the two boats. There were about 90 people present.
According to the complaints, various sexual acts took place between the players who have been charged and unidentified women on the boats owned by Al and Alma's Supper Club and Charter Cruises. That company's attorney said the acts were done in front of Al and Alma's employees and that some feared for their safety.
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