Denver Broncos Hot Topics - Sunday, April 9

Later this month, the Denver Broncos will almost certainly use a draft pick on a running back. But Ron Dayne still expects to get a chance to be Denver's starter on opening day. Read more about the running back situation in today's issue of "Hot Topics."

Later this month, the Denver Broncos will almost certainly use a draft pick on a running back. But Ron Dayne still expects to get a chance to be Denver's starter on opening day.

Dayne's downhill running style and bigger build might make him a better candidate to get 25 carries per game than Tatum Bell, who was ahead of Dayne on the depth chart last year. The Broncos have been reluctant to use Bell in a featured role.

Broncos coach Mike Shanahan complimented Dayne often last season and said he would fill Mike Anderson's role if Anderson went down. Anderson was released this off-season.

"Coach said I'll have an opportunity to do it," Dayne said about starting. "I'll take his word."

Dayne will have to have a good off-season. The Broncos want to see him come to training camp in great shape, and Dayne said if that means he has to drop some weight, he'll do it.

"Whatever they ask me to do I'm willing to do it, or at least try to get down to it," Dayne said.

Dayne said he weighed about 235 pounds last season but was up to 240 pounds during the season because he wasn't playing much. Dayne's weight was an issue in New York when he was with the Giants, but he has been well below his college weight of 255-270 pounds for a few years.

"If I feel like I'm in shape, weight doesn't really matter," Dayne said.

PLAYER NOTES

--The Broncos re-signed linebacker Patrick Chukwurah, another free agent Denver didn't want to let get away. Chukwurah is a good athlete, can back up at many positions and can rush the quarterback from the defensive end position in the Broncos' nickel defense.

Chukwurah is also a key special teams player for the Broncos.

--The Broncos need to use their two first-round picks -- the 15th and 22nd overall -- to get some players that can contribute in some role right away. Perhaps that means trading the picks to move up and draft one immediate impact player, but the Broncos could fill some holes in the draft after being quiet in free agency.

The Broncos are a veteran team and it's not a guarantee that even a top pick would enter the starting lineup right away.

"It depends on the position we pick," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said of the possibility of a rookie starting this season.

FRANCHISE PLAYER: None
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers) --S Chris Young (not tendered as RFA) was injured last season, but he was a promising player and still could return.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
--WR Charlie Adams had a decent season as Denver's third receiver and will be back.
--LB Louis Green is a good special teams player who fills a role for the Broncos.
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED
--S Sam Brandon: Potential UFA; terms unknown.
--LB Keith Burns: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--LB Patrick Chukwurah: UFA; terms unknown.
--RB Ron Dayne: UFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--DE John Engelberger: Potential UFA; 3 yrs, $750,000 SB.
--LS Mike Leach: UFA; 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--OT Matt Lepsis: Potential UFA; $25M/4 yrs, SB unknown.
--DT Demetrin Veal: ERFA; terms unknown.
--DT Gerard Warren: UFA; 6 yrs, terms unknown.
PLAYERS ACQUIRED
--DE Kenard Lang: FA Browns; $5.9M/3 yrs, $900,000 RB; 2006 cap: $1.9M.
--LB Nate Webster: UFA Bengals; $1.505M/2 yrs, $200,000 SB; 2006 cap: $685,000.
PLAYERS LOST
--RB Mike Anderson (released).
--DE Marco Coleman (retired).
--DT Monsanto Pope: UFA Jets; $625,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB.
--DE Trevor Pryce (released).
--TE Jeb Putzier (released).
MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.




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