California Dreaming

Denver Broncos backup quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt finally got into a game last weekend against the Raiders and is preparing for heavier duty against the Chargers.

With his blond good looks, blue eyes, standing 6 foot 2 inches, and weighing-in at 220 pounds, backup quarterback Bradlee Van_Pelt looks the epitome of a California beach boy. Van Pelt, who hails from Santa Barbara, California, was a two-time first team All-Mountain West Conference pick from Colorado State University and had an outstanding collegiate career. Completing 54% of his passes for 6,165 yards and 37 touchdowns before being drafted by the Denver Broncos in 2004.

Van Pelt and his teammates will soon be heading west to his former Southern California stomping ground. The Broncos 22-3 win this past Saturday against the Oakland Raiders, locked up the AFC west championship and pretty much guaranteed some playing time for Van Pelt against the San Diego Chargers this weekend. A game viewed by most as a lame-duck since it's outcome has no real impact on playoff standings.

Interviewed in the locker room following the win, Van Pelt was pummeled with questions from media who had pretty much ignored the backup quarterback for most of the season. Called into the game for the last few minutes of the fourth quarter, Van Pelt said "He was happy to have a few snaps (three) with the first team. I love having some quality playing time, especially when it's not due to injuries. I need the practice to work on my timing with the first string, so any playing time is good."

Asked if he thought he would start against San Diego he replied, "I don't have any expectations about my role in the game this week. I'm going to prepare like I always do, enjoy our win tonight, the championship, and Christmas with my family.

"I'm sure the coaches will tell me at the start of the week their plans for the game and my role in it. I plan to just go in there like always and do my job. I realize there's a chance I might see some serious action, but there's also a chance Jake will play three maybe even four quarters."

Chances, though, are real good this won't happen. Why play your starters, risk injury and tire them out needlessly in a game that doesn't matter?

Van Pelt also stated, "I've calmed down quite a bit over the last three months and have done a better job at controlling my anxiety. Obviously, I'll have some butterflies this week looking towards San Diego and my role in the game, because I look at it as a real opportunity for me to show the coaches, the fans and my fellow teammates what I've learned this season.

"Jake and I push each other pretty hard! We're both very competitive and we try to use that competitiveness against each other to bring out the best in both of us."

This is Van Pelt's second year as a Bronco, but he spent most of last year on the practice squad. Most coaches believe it takes about two to three years for a new player to learn and be comfortable with a new system.

"Everyone has noticed the difference in Jake this year" commented Van Pelt. "He's just a lot more comfortable with the system and it shows in his strategy. We have a great offense, but we still make some mistakes. I'll come in like other players to this game, knowing that I have a role to play, a job to do and that I might make some mistakes. I'm getting more comfortable with each game, just trying to learn so that I can accomplish what I want to accomplish. I want to be the best, I want to show everyone what I know I can do."

Clearly this California stud is aching for some playing time this week in San Diego.

Hopefully, he'll show his stuff, and give his fans and the coaches a mini preview of the waiting-in-the-wings quarterback's future with the Broncos.

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