Denver Broncos Hot Topics - Thurs., Sept. 21

Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan has a lot of respect for Patriots coach Bill Belichick, and said he's looking forward to facing him again this week. But one of Denver's players may not feel the same way. Read about it in today's "Hot Topics."

Broncos running back Cedric Cobbs has played for New England coach Bill Belichick, and he's happy to be in Denver.

Cobbs, who was with New England in 2004, said what is already pretty well known -- Belichick's intimidating style has an effect on his players.

"There's definitely a lot of fear out there," Cobbs said.

The Broncos play the Patriots this week. Cobbs made a mistake in last week's game -- he muffed the opening kickoff of overtime, but recovered before the Chiefs got to it. Cobbs said he knew he couldn't make too many mistakes like that under Mike Shanahan, another no-nonsense head coach, but he cringed when he thought about what would have happened had he still been with the Patriots.

"I'm sure I would have been even more afraid if I would have done that playing in New England," said Cobbs, who sprained his ankle on the play and might miss this week's game.

Many good Patriots players, such as Lawyer Milloy, Deion Branch, Willie McGinest and Adam Vinatieri, have been let go rather unceremoniously. Cobbs said the Patriots players are on their toes all the time.

"I don't think New England knows a player may need another chance, another opportunity," Cobbs said. "It's pretty cutthroat. Out here I think there's a little more leeway. They understand players make mistakes. You just can't make many out here."

Shanahan has a lot of respect for Belichick, and said he's looking forward to facing him again this week.

"You know his team is going to be well-prepared," Shanahan said. "If you beat him, you've really accomplished something."

PLAYER NOTES

--QB Jake Plummer has the support of Broncos coach Mike Shanahan. Shanahan knows rookie Jay Cutler, no matter how talented, doesn't give the team a better chance to win now than Plummer. But Plummer has to play better. He has no touchdowns and four interceptions in two games and has a tough matchup at New England this week.

--RB Tatum Bell is running hard. He still gets tripped up on first contact a little too often, but he is finishing runs better. He has 172 yards and is averaging 5.5 yards per carry through a couple of starts.

--RB Mike Bell is still making some rookie mistakes. Sometimes it's in pass protection, sometimes it's just seeing the correct hole to hit. But he plays hard and has been effective. He should continue to improve through the season.

--WR Rod Smith suffered a concussion against the Chiefs in Week 2. The early reports were that he would be ready to play this week. The Broncos were going to take more tests and make sure, however, that he is not at significant risk of getting another concussion if he plays.

--WR Javon Walker made some big plays against Kansas City. He is Denver's best deep threat and the Broncos will take a couple shots downfield to him each game.

--WR David Kircus had a couple of nice catches against the Chiefs. Kircus has made plays since he came to Denver, in training camp, preseason games and against Kansas City. He will probably continue to get chances to be productive.

--TE Stephen Alexander had two catches for eight yards and rookie Tony Scheffler was held without a catch against Kansas City. The tight ends could take a little pressure off embattled quarterback Jake Plummer by being a bigger part of the passing game.

--K Jason Elam kicked through a hip injury on Sunday. He said he hurt his left hip practicing punting on Wednesday, but got better through the week. He hit three field goals, including the game-winner in overtime.

--DE Courtney Brown is likely to miss another game this week. He'll get a chance to rest his bad knee during the bye in Week 4, and then be reevaluated by the team.

--DT Gerard Warren had four solo tackles against Kansas City. He is Denver's most talented lineman in the middle and seems to be close to full speed after dislocating his big toe in training camp.

--CB Champ Bailey had eight tackles against Kansas City. Bailey has been a big part of Denver's run defense this year. Although Bailey isn't that big, he is a great tackler for a cornerback.

--P Paul Ernster had a solid game against Kansas City. He has played well during Todd Sauerbrun's suspension. The Broncos will face a tough decision with him when Sauerbrun is reinstated.

--WR Quincy Morgan's top priority with the Broncos will be returning kicks. However, he could help give Denver some depth at receiver as well. Morgan was a forgotten man on offense in Pittsburgh but he could be used on offense in Denver depending on how quickly he picks up the offense.



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