Denver Broncos Hot Topics - Monday, Sept.11

The Denver Broncos unveiled a surprise on the first play of their regular-season opener, opting for Tatum Bell as their starting tailback. Bell lost a fumble in the first quarter, but rebounded to have a solid game. Read all the latest about the Broncos in today's edition of "Hot Topics."

The Denver Broncos unveiled a surprise on the first play of their regular-season opener, opting for Tatum Bell as their starting tailback.

Tatum Bell started the game and rushed for 103 yards on 15 carries in Denver's 18-10 loss at St. Louis. Rookie Mike Bell started all four preseason games but Mike Shanahan started Tatum Bell because he didn't want to put too much pressure on Mike Bell.

"I told them we were going to alternate series and might go with the hot guy as time went on," Shanahan said.

Tatum Bell lost a fumble in the first quarter. He rebounded to have a solid game, but he was upset about his mistake.

"I'm not going to run from that," Tatum Bell said. "I know I got to work on that and get better. It won't happen again, that's what I have to keep telling myself."

Tatum Bell also couldn't break free for a big play in the fourth quarter. He broke through the line and had only one man to beat, but he ran right into the Rams safety. He had a 14-yard gain, but Plummer threw an interception a few plays later to end Denver's comeback.

"I got to work on that," Tatum Bell said. "I know I can make people miss, I just have to just do it on a consistent basis."

Mike Bell rushed for 58 yards on 10 carries, but he also had a costly error. He couldn't block Rams end Leonard Little on a pass play, and Little hit Plummer and caused a fumble.

More problematic for the Broncos was that Mike Bell injured his right middle finger on that play. Mike Bell stayed in the game, although he said the trainers told him he had a fractured finger. Mike Bell said he didn't think he'd miss any time.

"I played through it today so I think I can play through it," Mike Bell said.

The Broncos will probably stick with a rotation if Mike Bell doesn't miss any time. They could also use Cedric Cobbs, who was inactive against St. Louis, to spell Tatum Bell. Shanahan said he liked the rotation at tailback. Both Bells were effective. They each had a run of more than 35 yards.

"I felt like that went fairly well," Shanahan said.

REPLAY

The Broncos had five turnovers, four by quarterback Jake Plummer, in a sloppy 18-10 loss at St. Louis. Denver still had a chance to win the game because of its defense, which held the Rams out of the end zone.

St. Louis often had good field position after Denver turnovers, but in five trips inside the 20-yard line they didn't score a touchdown. The Broncos offense just couldn't take advantage of their opportunities. Plummer threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter. His last interception came with the Broncos in Rams territory, down eight points. He rolled to his left and tried forcing a pass, which was deflected and intercepted.

The Broncos did run the ball well against St. Louis. They averaged 6.4 yards per carry, with Tatum Bell starting and rushing for 103 yards. Plummer struggled, completing 13 of 26 passes for 138 yards.

PLAYER NOTES

--WR Javon Walker had three catches for 41 yards in his Broncos debut. He also dropped back-to-back passes in the third quarter, including a sure touchdown.

--WR Brandon Marshall was inactive. He missed most of the preseason with a knee injury but practiced all week. He should eventually be a contributor for Denver's offense.

--TE Tony Scheffler made his NFL debut. He had one catch for nine yards. He should have a big role in Denver's offense this season.

--WR Rod Smith caught three passes, reaching 800 receptions in his career. He is the 15th receiver in NFL history to reach that milestone.

--DE Courtney Brown was inactive. He practiced all week but the Broncos were cautious with him on the Rams' artificial turf. Brown missed the preseason after having arthroscopic surgery on his knee.



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