Bell, who had been rotating series with Mike Bell the first two games, was given a chance to shine against New England. He had 123 yards on 27 carries and came out only when he needed a rest.
"That's what you're looking for, a guy to seize the opportunity, and I think Tatum did," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said.
Tatum Bell has been eager to get his chance to show he can be an every-down back. He still has some areas to improve, such as running after first contact and being a reliable receiver. But right now Shanahan views Tatum Bell as his most reliable option.
"I've been wanting it," Bell said. "I've earned it. I've paid the dues to be where I am."
Mike Bell has made some rookie mistakes early this season but should still get some playing time behind Tatum Bell.
--Mike Shanahan and quarterback Jake Plummer had a heated exchange on the sideline after one second-quarter drive against New England. Both sides said the argument was no big deal.
"It's part of the game," Shanahan said. "Heck I used to do that with all the quarterbacks, every quarterback I've been with as head coach. It was no big deal really."
--Broncos receiver Rod Smith got more time off than usual against New England. Smith suffered a concussion the previous week against Kansas City. David Kircus played a lot in Smith's place. Smith still made six catches for 44 yards.
"He got tired a couple of times and we took him out of there," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said.
--CB Darrent Williams left Sunday's game with a strained neck. He should be fine after Denver's bye week.
--RB Cecil Sapp got some playing time at fullback against New England. Injuries set him back in camp. He was the starter for most of the offseason, before the injuries, and should continue to see his role grow.
--DE Patrick Chukwurah had another solid game rushing the passer. Formerly a backup linebacker, Chukwurah has good speed and can often beat tackles outside. He will continue to be used in nickel situations.
--CB Karl Paymah got some playing time after Darrent Williams was
hurt. Paymah joined Domonique Foxworth and Champ Bailey as the
cornerbacks in the Broncos' nickel package. Paymah is a solid special teams
player who hasn't had much of an impact defensively.
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