Denver Broncos News Blogs - Thurs, Aug. 31

Although most of the Denver Broncos' starters will rest during Thursday's game at Arizona, the running backs will all be in action chasing that number one slot. Check out all the top stories in today's Denver Broncos News Blogs.

WR Walker glad he's an ex-Packer - Denver Post - Bill Williamson
08/31/2006 - Javon Walker said he needed no reassurance, but after watching his former team get waxed Monday night, the Broncos' new offensive playmaker has total clarity. He said he is much happier in Denver than he ever could be in Green Bay. "Obviously, we have a chance to be a Super Bowl team," Walker said Wednesday. "Obviously, they have a chance to win four games." The Packers lost a preseason game 48-17 at Cincinnati on national television Monday night. With their starters in the game, the Packers fell behind 31-0.

Cutler-Leinart sneak peek of possible stars - Denver Post - Mike Klis
08/30/2006 - One is a lefty from Hollywood, spotted dancing with the likes of Paris Hilton. The other is a righty from southern Indiana and a quirky town named Santa Claus, who has spent the past month or so hanging out with his parents at his new Denver-area home. Wait a minute. Let's apply the brakes to the preseason hype about young gun quarterbacks Matt Leinart of the Arizona Cardinals and the Broncos' Jay Cutler. There's only so much glitz and glamour that can be applied to any portion of an NFL preseason schedule, especially when it's the final game that doesn't count. There is a more substantive issue confronting the Leinart-Cutler dual. In many ways, it doesn't really matter whether Leinart, the movie-star handsome former Southern Cal star, or Cutler, the quiet kid from the Midwest with the strong arm, has the better performance in their preseason game tonight at Cardinals Stadium.

Broncos tale: loose ends - Rocky Mountain News - Jeff Legwold
August 31, 2006 - The Broncos will try to remove the question marks tonight and finish the sentences with some periods. And when they walk out of Cardinals Stadium, much of the preseason pomp and circumstance will walk out with them because, when the Broncos return to the practice field, their regular-season opener against the St. Louis Rams will be on top of the things-to-do list. "It's like I've said, ready or not, here it comes," coach Mike Shanahan said. "Then we'll see what we can do, if we get it done or not."

Bell hop: Game in home state has back excited - Rocky Mountain News - Jeff Legwold
August 31, 2006 - For many of the Broncos, tonight's preseason game at Cardinals Stadium is a necessary evil, to be viewed wearing a baseball cap and a clean uniform. Not so for running back Mike Bell. "I'm super excited to play there," Bell said. "Just super excited. Just another thing I didn't think would happen." Bell was born in Phoenix and was the Arizona player of the year as a senior at Tolleson Union High School. He rushed for 4,632 yards in his career at the school, second-highest total in the state's prep history, and was a coveted recruit for the University of Arizona. Tonight's game will be the second one played in the new $455 million stadium, which will host the Super Bowl after the 2007 season.

Living on the Edge - - Andrew Mason
Wednesday, August 30, 2006 - To some Broncos, life on the roster bubble is unknown; their place on an NFL team has always been virtually assured. But many other players know nothing but that existence that comes with spending every late August moment on edge, resting on the precipice of having one's professional football career turned asunder and being without a team as the regular season begins. "I'm going on my fifth year in the league and it's probably my fifth time on the bubble," tight end Chad Mustard said. "I've been in this position for the last three or four years, so I'm pretty used to it," tight end Nate Jackson concurred.

Plummer remains Broncos' leader - Arizona Republic - David Ramsey
Aug. 31, 2006 - Sure, Jake Plummer has suffered through bad hair, rude driving and a nationally televised display of his middle finger, but give the Snake his due. He's led the revival of the Denver Broncos. Before Plummer's arrival in 2003, the Broncos had failed to travel to the playoffs in three of four seasons, and fans were stuck in the past. Colorado was obsessed with retreating to those wonderful days in the late 1990s when John Elway and Terrell Davis marched the Broncos to consecutive Super Bowl titles. Plummer is no Elway, but he has directed the Broncos on three consecutive playoff journeys, including last season's trip to the AFC title game. The former Arizona State and Cardinals quarterback rescued fans from their nostalgic funk and returned them to the present tense, always the best place to reside.

Crash couldn't stop Carswell - Colorado Springs Gazette - Frank Schwab
August 31, 2006 - The first time Jeffrey Brown saw Dwayne Carswell, the offensive lineman was on a CAT scan table. Brown, a surgical assistant, helped surgeons operate on Carswell after a major car crash last Oct. 27. He saw a shift in Carswell's internal organs, some broken ribs and a 10- to 12-inch tear in his diaphragm. Carswell's spleen, which had moved from his abdomen to his chest through the torn diaphragm, was removed. Nine months later, Brown couldn't believe what he saw at Denver Broncos headquarters. Carswell was at training camp, hitting 300-pound defensive linemen as if nothing had happened. "I was telling my son, ‘That's amazing,'" Brown said. "It's amazing he could come back from an injury like that and be full contact. I was blown away."

AFC West preview: Brash Broncos will run away again - CBS - Pete Prisco
Aug. 31, 2006 - Running the football has been as much of a certainty in Denver as the Broncos' opposition gasping for air in the fourth quarter. For years under coach Mike Shanahan, the Broncos have run it as well as any team in the league, no matter who's the back. It's that arrogance when it comes to the system that allows Shanahan to swap out backs like a teenager does trading cards. It's worked in the past, making 1,000-yard rushers out of non-descript players such as Olandis Gary and Mike Anderson. This season, Shanahan will attempt to top that. He will open the season with an undrafted rookie starting at running back in Mike Bell.

No sign of battle for RB tailing off - Denver Post - Bill Williamson
08/30/2006 - Tatum Bell has rushed for more than 1,300 yards and played in 32 NFL games - including three playoff games - yet an exhibition game Thursday night may be vital to his career. A sit-down game for nearly every starter and a survival game for players on the bubble to make the roster will provide a reason to show up in the heat of Arizona. The battle to become the starting tailback is on. "This may be my biggest game," Bell said Tuesday. "This could be it for me. It's my chance."

Jake at best kicking up boot heels - Denver Post - Mike Klis
08/30/2006 - If playing quarterback was all about the arm, the Broncos probably would have a full-fledged controversy this season. Anyone can see the kid Jay Cutler has a stronger throwing arm than veteran Jake Plummer. No NFL quarterback excels, though, on arm alone, especially when playing in coach Mike Shanahan's system. In Shana- han's air attack, the pass is often third, after the play-action and misdirection rollout. Cutler may one day have several Pro Bowls in his biography, but even then he would be challenged to match Plummer's ball-handling wizardry.

Broncos backs will get one more shot to earn No. 1 spot - Rocky Mountain News - Jeff Legwold
August 30, 2006 - It's official: The Broncos want their runners to find a little more daylight. So much so that coach Mike Shanahan wants to see more from the team's runners before deciding who will start the regular-season opener against the St. Louis Rams. That means while the team's other starters will be held out of Thursday night's preseason finale in Arizona, the team's running backs will be looking at a full night's work. "Nobody excluded there," Shanahan said Tuesday. "We've got some fierce competition there and I'm not going to go through the playing time or the depth chart. We'll all find out when we open the season against the Rams who that starting running back will be." Mike Bell, an undrafted rookie, has been atop the team's depth chart since the second week of training camp.

Cutler, Leinart will get plenty of time in preseason finale - Rocky Mountain News - Jeff Legwold
August 30, 2006 - It is Round 2 of the big three. The scheduling calendar that put Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler and Titans quarterback Vince Young on the same field in the preseason has Cutler and Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart on the same field Thursday night at Cardinals Stadium. The three were the top quarterback prospects in April's draft and likely will be linked throughout their careers. "I'm sure all three of us are the same, we're competitors, we want to do the best," Cutler said. "But the draft and all that hype and stuff is behind us now, it's a team game. Hopefully, we can just go out there and win the game." With Jake Plummer and virtually all of the offensive starters expected to get the night off, Cutler likely will play most of the game against Arizona. Leinart, the Cardinals' No. 2 quarterback, also is expected to get plenty of playing time. Cutler will start and could play into the fourth quarter. Bradlee Van Pelt played almost three quarters in the Broncos' preseason finale last year as Plummer's backup.

DL Warren, rookie WR Marshall back in practice for Broncos - CBS
Aug. 29, 2006 - Gerard Warren was in a jovial mood as he gingerly walked off the practice field on Tuesday. The dislocated left big toe was still bothering him, but the Denver Broncos defensive lineman wanted to give the toe a test run. It passed inspection. "It's feeling a lot better than it did a few weeks ago," Warren said in a loud, booming voice for everyone to hear. The last time the Broncos saw Warren on the practice field he was lying on the ground, screaming in pain. He injured the toe on Aug. 5 when rookie running back Mike Bell tried to find an opening in the defense during a goal-line drill and someone either stepped on or fell on Warren. It's still unclear which occurred.

Middlebrooks among 12 players cut by Broncos - Rocky Mountain News
August 29, 2006 - One by one the players entered Denver coach Mike Shanahan's office for a private conversation. He talked to each player for about five minutes and then cut them — including former first-round draft pick Willie Middlebrooks. The Broncos waived 12 players Tuesday, and placed rookie receiver Domenik Hixon on injured reserve, to pare the roster down to 75 players. Denver has to trim the roster to 53 players by Saturday. "It's always tough," Shanahan said. "Guys have been working with us since April, and going through the offseason conditioning program. But I get a chance to sit down with each guy and talk to them. The chance to talk about their potential future, not only in the National Football League, but maybe with us at a different time."

Middlebrooks Among Cuts As Broncos Trim Roster - - Andrew Mason
Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - The Broncos officially trimmed their roster to 75 players, releasing 12 players -- including 2001 first-round pick Willie Middlebrooks -- while placing wide receiver Domenik Hixon on the reserve/non-football injury list. Five of the 12 players waived by the Broncos were on the team's offensive line: guards P.J. Alexander and Martin Bibla, offensive tackles Javiar Collins and Cornell Green and center/guard Rob Hunt. The team also trimmed a pair of linebackers (Kevin Harrison and T.J. Hollowell) -- two defensive tackles (Patrice Majondo-Mwamba and Bryan Save) two cornerbacks (Middlebrooks and Antwaun Rogers) and fullback Rashon Powers-Neal.

Notebook: The Game's Afoot - - Andrew Mason
Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - The final preseason game is typically one that sees the Broncos rest most of their starters. The operative word there is "most." "What we usually do in the last game is the established starters will sit out -- and that's really everybody on the offense and defense excluding the running backs," Head Coach Mike Shanahan revealed following Tuesday afternoon's practice session. That means it could be a busy night for all the running backs -- including first-teamer Mike Bell, who has started every game so far in the preseason.

Starting tailback up for grabs - Denver Post - Bill Williamson
08/29/2006 - 08/29/2006 - On a day the Broncos announced their first round of cuts, the most interesting news involves the team's running game. Coach Mike Shanahan today said the team's starting tailback position is open and Thursday night's preseason finale at Arizona will play a determining factor in who wins the job. Undrafted rookie Mike Bell, second-round player Tatum Bell and former practice-squad player Cedric Cobbs are vying for the spot. All three will playa against the Cardinals. Meanwhile, Denver got down to the 75-player limit this afternoon by cutting 12 players and putting rookie receiver Domenik Hixon on the non-football injury list. He is eligible to return after the sixth week of the season. He broke his foot in March at his pro workout day. The most notable of the cuts were cornerback Willie Middlebrooks and offensive tackle Cornell Green.

BVP's excellent adventure on last run - Denver Post - Anthony Cotton
08/28/2006 - Not long after the conclusion of Sunday's Broncos-Houston Texans preseason game, someone had the bright idea of gathering all the former Colorado State Rams at Invesco Field - Cecil Sapp, David Anderson, Erik Pears, et al. - for a warm-and-fuzzy, precious memory photo. Ultimately, though, the plan fizzled under the weight of the NFL's keep-the-chains-moving reality, with team officials on both sides hustling players into their respective locker rooms. Apparently, only NFL Films can make time stand still.

Friendly conquest - Denver Post – Mike Klis
08/28/2006 - There was television, a nice stadium and full-price admission. It was an NFL preseason game, all right. So how come it played more like a Wednesday afternoon scrimmage between teammates? Rare is the preseason game that fails to meet low expectations. Considering the familiarity between coaching staffs, perhaps it shouldn't have been surprising that the Broncos' 17-14 win Sunday night over the Houston Texans was an exception.

Walker steps up to challenge - Denver Post – Bill Williamson
08/28/2006 - Javon Walker was disappointed when he departed Invesco Field at Mile High after his Broncos debut last week. Sure, it was nice to get back in a game for the first time since a major knee injury 11 months prior. But Walker wanted more than to simply put on the pads and run a few routes in front of a stadium of fans. Walker wanted to feel the football in his hands again. Just playing wasn't enough for the Broncos' biggest offseason acquisition. Walker wanted to be a receiver again. Sunday night, in his second preseason opportunity, Walker officially became a receiver again. Walker was so giddy to get down and dirty, he even enjoyed getting popped.

Devoe, Kircus bolster bids - Denver Post – Mike Klis and Bill Williamson
08/28/2006 - Intrigue continued at backup receiver Sunday night, one of the Broncos' most closely contested training camp battles. Incumbent Todd Devoe, who reaggravated a shoulder injury, and veteran newcomer David Kircus were getting most of the playing time with the first unit in multiple receiver sets in Denver's 17-14 victory over Houston at Invesco Field at Mile High. With Devoe and Kircus working with quarterback Jake Plummer, former second-round pick Darius Watts played toward the end of the game. Fourth-round pick Brandon Marshall is expected to be the No. 3 receiver when he returns from a minor knee injury he suffered in the preseason opener at Detroit on Aug. 11. He is expected to play Thursday at Arizona.

Front-four pressure on quarterback is encouraging - Rocky Mountain News – Paul Willis
August 28, 2006 - The Broncos' new approach to the pass rush has been overshadowed during the preseason by the battle for a No. 1 running back and early evaluations of first-round draft pick Jay Cutler. While the new scheme to get to the quarterback might not be the signature story of exhibition play, it easily could turn out to be the most crucial to the team's success this season. The Broncos, who ran numerous stunts and blitz schemes last season but tied for 28th in the NFL with 28 sacks, are planning to create pressure with a more conventional approach this season. Defensive coordinator Larry Coyer is counting on the front four to generate the bulk of the pressure on quarterbacks to eliminate some of the risk factors that accompany heavy doses of the blitz. During Sunday's 17-14 preseason win against the Houston Texans, the men up front demonstrated the plan could work.

Cobbs making strong case for roster spot - Rocky Mountain News – Jeff Legwold, Jim Benton and Paul Willis
August 28, 2006 - For a guy who says he "just wants to get into the mix" in the Broncos' running back rotation, Cedric Cobbs keeps feasting on the backups across from him on defense. And with a spot likely still up for grabs at the position before rosters go to 53 players by Sept. 2, Cobbs is trying to do all he can to fill the bill. He leads the Broncos with 161 rushing yards in three preseason games. Sunday night, he finished with 54 yards on seven carries against the Texans to help the Broncos in a game they struggled at times to move the ball on the ground. Cobbs' total included a 26-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. "I'm just trying to stay humble . . . ," Cobbs said. "I feel like the coaches believe I'm someone they can count on." Cobbs, entering his third year in the league, has waited for his chance.

Walker gets first catch, tests knee - Rocky Mountain News – Brad Byler
August 28, 2006 - Javon Walker's first reception for the Broncos was long anticipated, and it didn't take long to get it Sunday night in the team's preseason game against the Houston Texans. On the fifth play of the game at Invesco Field at Mile High, Walker hauled in a 16-yard pass from quarterback Jake Plummer over a Texans defender, then held on as another Houston defender slammed into him. Walker said he was as eager for his first reception as the Broncos fans, who have awaited his contributions since the team pulled a draft-day trade to acquire the Pro Bowl receiver. Walker missed most of last season because of a right knee injury.

Kubiak's return is 'special' but short on staying power - Rocky Mountain News – Jim Benton
August 28, 2006 - For the fans at Invesco Field, it seemed for a while like they were watching an intrasquad scrimmage Sunday night instead of the Broncos against the Houston Texans in a preseason game. Gary Kubiak made his first appearance on the Invesco Field sideline since he became coach of the Texans in January. The Texans offense mirrors the Broncos offense, and maybe that's why neither team scored until there was 6:39 remaining in the second quarter. "I probably wasn't very familiar with (the Broncos) the way we (were not) moving the ball on offense the first three or four tries," said Kubiak, who was offensive coordinator of the Broncos for 11 years. "But, hey, we know what they do."

Van Pelt's last chance to shine is Thursday - Colorado Springs Gazette – David Ramsey
August 28, 2006 - Bradlee Van Pelt resides "on the bubble," which isn't a place any NFL player wants to rest in the final days of August. He could be facing his last days as a member of the Denver Broncos. He could be seeing the end of his stubborn wish to play quarterback instead of linebacker or safety. It's a wish that once inspired his transfer from Michigan State to Colorado State. Exhibition games sometimes lack sizzling drama, but here's one compelling storyline for the Broncos' final preseason game Thursday at Arizona. If Van Pelt stumbles against the Cardinals, he might need to think about bidding farewell to Colorado.

Cutler continues to impress as backup - Colorado Springs Gazette – Frank Schwab
August 28, 2006 - Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Jay Cutler played well again Sunday night. Cutler, who was impressive in his first two preseason games, completed 5 of 9 passes for 69 yards against Houston. Cutler completed 4 of 5 passes for 53 yards during a scoring drive in the fourth quarter. "I see things happening and I'm starting to anticipate more, so it's going well," Cutler said. Cutler likely will start Thursday's game against Arizona because Broncos coach Mike Shanahan usually rests all of his regular starters in the final preseason game. Cutler played in the first half in the first two preseason games. The starters received most of the playing time Sunday so Cutler didn't enter the game until midway through the third quarter. He said waiting was a bit strange, but he was ready.

Defense Delivers - Colorado Springs Gazette – Frank Schwab
August 28, 2006 - The holes weren't there for running backs, the passing lanes were clogged and the Denver Broncos' starting offense had a tough time moving the ball Sunday night. The Broncos beat the Houston Texans 17-14 and improved to 2-1 this preseason because of a strong defensive performance. Houston's first touchdown came with less than three minutes left in the game, long after Denver's starters had called it a night. Denver had an easy time with Tennessee's defense last week, but a crowd of 73,689 at Invesco Field at Mile High saw the Broncos offense struggle against the Texans.

Cobbs makes his case to be starter - Colorado Springs Gazette – Nick Walter
August 28, 2006 - Before Sunday, the Broncos top three running backs on the depth chart went in the following order: Mike Bell, Tatum Bell, Cedric Cobbs. Based only on their performances in Denver's 17-14 win over Houston, a case could be made to reverse that order. Although he ran against second- and third-team defenses in the second half, Cobbs swallowed yards, shook off tacklers and, with 11:21 left in the game, had Denver's longest run of the day on a 26-yard touchdown. Cobbs finished with 54 yards on seven carries. Tatum Bell had 36 yards on 10 attempts. Mike Bell mustered 20 yards on nine rushes. Coach Mike Shanahan was not specific about any possible changes to his running back situation.

Broncos running game still a mystery - – Arnie Stapleton
Aug 28, 2006 - The only certainty in the Denver Broncos' offensive backfield is that Ron Dayne has his work cut out for him this week as he tries to make the roster after missing most of training camp. The former Heisman Trophy winner was the projected starter when camp began but he quickly lost that status to undrafted rookie Mike Bell and then got hurt in the first preseason game.

All Smiles - – J. Michael Moore
Monday, August 28, 2006 - Some may call Javon Walker crazy. For almost a month the Broncos wide receiver has been telling reporters how he was looking forward to getting hit in a preseason game. Now hold on just a minute... "I wasn't going to play scared," Walker said Sunday night after Denver's 17-14 preseason victory over Houston -- his first game to record a catch with the Broncos. "I was just waiting to see after the catch what the tackle would feel like. After the first catch, needless to say, I knew everything was going to be alright." Walker, a Pro Bowler who was acquired through a trade with Green Bay in April, started last week's game against Tennessee but did not record a catch. His first catch as a Bronco came on the first drive Sunday night -- a 16-yard grab for a first down with a Dunta Robinson-Glenn Earl tackle.

'D'-lightful - – Andrew Mason
Monday, August 28, 2006 - Kenard Lang knew exactly what was coming. It was the defense's first series early Sunday evening, and its first key play of what would become a 17-14 win over the Houston Texans. Third-and-4 from midfield. A big play would thrust the Texans into field-goal range. A stop would put momentum back in Denver's corner after a missed Jason Elam field-goal attempt took it away at the end of Denver's first drive. Houston quarterback David Carr rolled right. Lang was ready. So was D.J. Williams. The younger University of Miami product barely missed the passer. The older former Hurricanes defender finished the job and forced the football loose.

All Smiles - – J. Michael Moore
Broncos taking their passing shot- Denver Post – Mike Klis
8/27/06 – For an inside look at the past two drafts completed by the Broncos, try, if possible, to squint beyond those bright, interrogating lights that persistently shine on Maurice Clarett. See it? There is a common denominator. In 2005, the Broncos' first three picks were cornerback, cornerback and cornerback. Darrent Williams, Karl Paymah and Domonique Foxworth. As such, the trio's primary task is defending the pass.

Injuries open door for Johnson, Cobbs- Denver Post – Bill Willimson
8/27/06 – Shaky health in the backfield could work to the advantage of Kyle Johnson and Cedric Cobbs on Sunday when the Broncos play the Houston Texans at Invesco Field at Mile High. Starting fullback Cecil Sapp and former No. 1 tailback Ron Dayne likely will sit out the game because of injuries. Coach Mike Shanahan said Sapp's status will be a game-time decision because of a hamstring injury that has been bothering him for weeks.

Broncos regulars will play more than a half vs. Texans, rest vs. Cardinals- Rocky Mountain News – Jeff Legwold
8/27/06 – The Broncos roll into their final preseason appearance for most of their regulars looking to maintain a smooth ride. "We've been efficient so far," quarterback Jake Plummer said. "And we're looking to stay that way. Go in, perform well, move the ball and get out of there. That's about all we can hope to get out of it."

Broncos' way has worked, so Kubiak quick to tap into it- Rocky Mountain News – Jeff Legwold
8/27/06 – It's been like, well, new home week for Gary Kubiak. Kubiak, who spent just under two decades working with Mike Shanahan as a player and assistant coach, will bring the Houston Texans to Invesco Field at Mile High on Sunday to show his former colleagues and city what he has been up to the past eight months.

Third game a tuneup for Broncos regulars- Journal / Advocate – Arnie Stapleton
8/27/06 – Providing they all make curfew, the Denver Broncos' starters will get their final tuneup for the regular season Sunday night against the Houston Texans. The regulars will play most of the game and most of the established ones will sit out five days later when the Broncos wrap up their preseason schedule at Arizona, which is the last chance for players on the bubble to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.

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