For Denver's most recent backs, the opposite has been the case. Three straight 1,000-yard backs have been dumped in the offseason. Clinton Portis was traded to Washington after the 2003 season. Reuben Droughns rushed for 1,000 yards in 2004 and was traded to Cleveland. Mike Anderson completed the trifecta. He gained 1,000 yards in 2005 and was released last March.
"I already know the history," Bell said. "All the backs before me, since I've been here, are gone. I hope I'll be the one that makes it."
Bell knows he has a lot to prove before the Broncos make a large investment in him. He has yet to score a touchdown this season, which doesn't help clear up one knock on him, which is that he isn't a great short yardage back.
Bell also hasn't done it over a long period. He wasn't even the starter in preseason this year for Denver. Rookie Mike Bell was given that job after a few days of training camp practice, which irked Tatum Bell.
Bell rebounded to win the starting job before the season opener and turned in some good performances before Denver's bye week. But he has to be consistent and show he can withstand a pounding over a long season. He was strictly a 10-15 carry-a-game back last year. He had 27 carries against New England in Week 3, the first time Denver didn't use a rotation between the Bells this year.
"I've been telling everybody I can do it, just give me the chance," Bell said.
Bell's contract voids after the 2007 season. Part of the reason the Broncos haven't had a back for more than a few years at a time since Terrell Davis is they have a lot of faith in their system producing 1,000 yard backs. Five different backs have gained 1,000 yards under Mike Shanahan, and Bell would be the sixth.
With Portis and Droughns, the Broncos traded them when their value was high. Both backs were also traded at the first sign of discontent with their contracts. Portis was traded for cornerback Champ Bailey and a draft pick that turned into Tatum Bell, and Droughns was traded for defensive linemen Ebenezer Ekuban and Michael Myers. All four players are starters for Denver this season.
Bell said he realizes that the same thing could happen to him.
"I think now they're grooming Mike (Bell), so if they're going to let me go they got Mike," Tatum Bell said with a smile. "But you have to take care of your own business and don't worry about all that."
Bell said he is not going to worry about what happens in the future. He is thrilled to be starting for Denver and has a long time before he has to worry about how long he will be in a Broncos uniform.
"I'm just going to worry about this year, take it one game at a time and everything else will fall into place," Bell said.
--RT George Foster has to be more consistent for the Broncos. The team wants the former first-round pick to develop into a star but he needs to avoid some occasional stumbles.
--DE John Engelberger has become a big part of Denver's defensive line rotation. He has a great motor, which is key for his role. He has provided a good pass rush.
--LB D.J. Williams got a chance to play in Denver's nickel package against New England because Al Wilson missed most of the fourth quarter. Williams has played well in that position when given the chance but he doesn't get many opportunities because Wilson and Ian Gold are the linebackers in the nickel defense.
--S Nick Ferguson is a solid player against the run and pass. He has been used less in deep coverage this season because John Lynch has been used less to blitz the quarterback.
--CB Karl Paymah has played well when given a chance to play on
defense this year. He was buried behind fellow 2005 draft picks Darrent Williams and Domonique Foxworth, but he has developed into a good special
teams player and an occasional contributor on defense.
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