Denver Broncos Hot Topics - Wednesday, Jan. 4

Bradlee Van Pelt's first time playing significant snaps at quarterback for the Denver Broncos in a regular-season game had to be about what the team expected. Read about Van Pelt and other "Hot Topics" about the Broncos.

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DENVER BRONCOS
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HOT TOPIC

Bradlee Van_Pelt's first time playing significant snaps at quarterback for the Denver Broncos in a regular-season game had to be about what the team expected.

Van Pelt, who is not a polished quarterback, didn't throw the ball well. He played the entire second half in Denver's regular-season finale against San Diego and completed two passes for 7 yards. Three of his passes could have been intercepted by the Chargers.

But Van Pelt's biggest strength is his athleticism. Van Pelt is big and fast, and he ran for 41 yards on an assortment of designed quarterback runs and scrambles. He kept the team moving - Denver had two 14-play drives against a solid San Diego defense.

Van Pelt wasn't happy with the final results.

"As a quarterback, you're supposed to complete balls, not rush," Van Pelt said. "It's not something I'm proud of, rushing for more yards than I threw for."

Broncos coach Mike Shanahan wasn't as down about Van Pelt's performance. He said he played well and mentioned that the rain that fell in the second half made it tough for him to throw the ball.

Before last week's game, Shanahan said he felt confident in Van Pelt as a backup because he had seen him improve so much in practice. Denver carries only two quarterbacks on its roster.

"If we were presented with a situation where Jake went down in the postseason, I would feel pretty good," Shanahan said before Denver's regular-season finale.

PLAYER NOTES

--QB Jake Plummer didn't do much in the Broncos' regular-season finale, completing 8 of 14 passes in one half of work, but he should be sharp. Plummer said he had no concerns about being rusty for Denver's first playoff game, even if he hadn't played at all against San Diego.
--QB Bradlee Van Pelt played the second half against San Diego, his first significant playing time. If he had to play in the playoffs, the Broncos would have to devise a game plan around his running skills, because he is still developing as a passer.
--RB Mike Anderson didn't play against San Diego. The Broncos think if they needed to win that game, Anderson could have been ready with a week of aggressive treatment. Anderson's status for the Broncos' first playoff game isn't a concern.
--RB Ron Dayne led the Broncos with 64 yards against San Diego, all in the second half. Dayne hasn't expressed frustration this season, even though he has played well just about every time he has been given the opportunity. Dayne has been stuck behind Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell.
--WR Rod Smith caught only one pass against San Diego, then sat out the second half. The Broncos didn't rest many starters, but Smith got the second half off because he is so valuable to the Broncos offense. He by far is Denver's most reliable wide receiver.
--WR Ashley Lelie played through a right elbow injury against San Diego. Lelie had 14 stitches in his arm when he suffered a gash in Denver's second-to-last regular-season game. Lelie shouldn't be affected by the injury in the playoffs.
--WR David Terrell played for the first time this season last week against San Diego. He didn't catch a pass, but that wasn't all his fault. He played in the second half, when it was raining and erratic passer Bradlee Van Pelt was in the game. Terrell will have a chance to make a big impact in 2006.
--TE Wesley Duke played a lot against San Diego after Jeb Putzier went out with a shoulder injury. The experience will help Duke, a raw rookie who played basketball in college. Duke made one nice catch downfield when he shielded his defender by using his big frame.
--K Jason Elam missed a short field goal against San Diego. The Broncos aren't worried about Elam. Elam has been through plenty of playoff games and is very good in the clutch.
--LB Al Wilson has a broken thumb, but will play in the playoffs. He had surgery to fix the thumb and would have problems catching a pass, but the rest of his game should not be affected.
--S John Lynch had a big game against San Diego, causing two fumbles on safety blitzes. Lynch has given the Broncos two very good seasons since signing with them after Tampa Bay released him. Lynch has said he hasn't thought about retirement yet.
--CB Champ Bailey probably won't win the NFL defensive player of the year award but he deserves consideration. Bailey set a career high in interceptions, returned two for touchdowns and had a great second half, when he finally got healthy after shoulder and hamstring injuries.



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