Broncos Update Insider - Friday, Sept. 29

Over the bye week maybe the Denver Broncos can figure out what to do about their struggling special teams. The Broncos rank last in the NFL in punt return average and kickoff return average. Read about the special teams and all the latest personnel news in today's "Broncos Update Insider."

The Broncos received plenty of down time during the bye week to gear up for the latter part of their season.

Denver was rewarded for a 17-7 win over New England with a lot of rest. The team had off Monday, had a short practice Tuesday, the players had to come in sometime on Wednesday to run and lift, and then were let out for the rest of the week.

Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said he wasn't worried about the players losing their edge over the long weekend.

"I trust them enough they'll get another run in during their five days away from football," Shanahan said.

Over the bye week the Broncos can figure out what to do about their struggling special teams. The Broncos rank last in the NFL in punt return average and kickoff return average. They rank 26th in punt return average allowed and 27th in kickoff return average allowed.

"Pretty average, pretty average," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "That's an area we need to improve on."

Denver signed receiver Quincy Morgan last week to improve their kickoff returns. Morgan didn't have many opportunities. One return was a touchback. He scrambled to field his second chance and gained only 12 yards.

Morgan said he thought he can be successful in Denver.

"We have the guys up front, and it's all about getting a good return and going to the house with it," Morgan said.

Punt returner Darrent Williams made a big mistake against New England. He fielded a punt at his own 6-yard line and retreated to the 2-yard line. He admitted he is pressing. He has only four yards on five punt returns.

"I'm not used to getting shut down," Williams said. "I'm trying too hard to make every play a big play. I got to relax, knowing they're going to come. I'm actually getting real frustrated, but everybody tells me just to relax, they're going to come."

The Broncos played very well against New England because their offense finally broke out with a solid performance to complement the stifling defense.

Denver thinks its special teams will eventually contribute too.

"Just think -- the offense playing the way they're playing, the defense playing how they're playing, what if we start running kicks back too?" Morgan said. "It's going to get ugly."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Linebacker Al Wilson missed Denver's only practice of the bye week. He hurt his hamstring against New England but probably would have been able to play if the Broncos had a game this week.

"It's minor at this time and hopefully it won't be a factor next week," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said.

--The NFL confirmed the start time of the Broncos' Oct. 9 game against Baltimore will not be changed. The Vikings-Lions game could be moved if there is a conflict with a Twins baseball playoff game at the Metrodome on Oct. 8, but there won't be any changes to the Broncos game, even if the Vikings game is moved to that Monday night.

--Wide receiver Rod Smith wore a Riddell "Revolution" helmet against the Patriots. The helmet is designed to prevent concussions. Smith suffered a concussion against Kansas City on Sept. 17 and was concerned about getting another.

"It's designed to supposedly be better," Smith said. "I need to play four quarters and I'll wear whatever. I'll wear some baloney on top of my head under my helmet if it's going to help me stay in the game."

--The Broncos don't have many injury concerns heading into the bye week. They still don't know when defensive end Courtney Brown might return from a knee injury, but it could happen the week after the bye.

Running back Cedric Cobbs has a sprained ankle, but he could return in a week or two. Other than that, no Broncos are in danger of missing Denver's game Oct. 9 against Baltimore.

BY THE NUMBERS: 13.1 -- The Broncos' kickoff return average this season. That's 6.5 yards worse than every other team in the NFL.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "That's what I like. That's what I take a lot of pride in." -- WR Javon Walker on the Broncos throwing him jump balls and allowing him to make plays.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

Jake Plummer's solid game against New England will hold off his critics for a while. Mike Shanahan said he had no plans of using rookie quarterback Jay Cutler in a game, but had Plummer continued to struggle he would have been forced to consider it.

Plummer had two long touchdown passes against New England and managed the game well. He appears to be back on track.

PLAYER NOTES

--LB Louis Green played briefly against New England when D.J. Williams was shaken up. Green is a good special teams player and can fill in at either outside linebacker position.

--S Sam Brandon is getting a lot of playing time in the Broncos' "big nickel" package once again. Brandon matches up well against opposing tight ends. However, he surrendered to authorities this week on an outstanding arrest warrant on charges of violating a restraining order and violation of his bond conditions steming from a July 2005 domestic violence case. He was released on his own recognizance from the Douglas County jail on Wednesday. Brandon is scheduled for a pretrial conference on Nov. 17 on both misdemeanor counts.

--DT Michael Myers is one reason the Broncos are playing so well against the run. Myers is unheralded but he is a good run stuffer in the middle alongside Gerard Warren.

--WR Brandon Marshall is still learning the pro game and getting used to his role in the offense. As long as he continues to get acclimated, his playing time should increase.

--WR Todd Devoe was inactive against New England. Devoe misjudged a long pass against St. Louis, which turned into an interception. As long as rookie Brandon Marshall is active, Devoe will be the odd man out.

INJURY IMPACT: DE Courtney Brown has been participating in some practice drills. The Broncos will reevaluate him after the bye.

--LB Al Wilson has a minor hamstring injury. He should return after the bye.

--RB Cedric Cobbs should benefit from a week off. He has a sprained ankle that kept him out of last week's game. He could return a game or two after the bye.



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