Denver Broncos Hot Topics - Wed., Oct. 11

The Denver Broncos have every reason to be excited about where they stand at the quarter mark of the season. After a bad season-opening loss to St. Louis, the Broncos beat division rival Kansas City, won at New England and beat Baltimore. The Patriots and Ravens are considered to be among the top five teams in the AFC, and the Broncos have wins over each of them.

The Broncos haven't been perfect, and they know it. Offensively, Denver has struggled to move the ball and score points. Denver has four touchdowns in four games, and didn't get in the end zone until the final two minutes against Baltimore on Monday night.

"Obviously we have some work to do on that side of the ball," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. The Broncos figure their offense will come around. Until then, the defense is confident it can carry the team. Denver has allowed one touchdown in its first four games. The only other team since 1940 to accomplish that was the 2000 Miami Dolphins.

Denver admitted after beating Baltimore on Monday night that it wanted to have a good showing against the Ravens, whose defense was touted most of the week as one of the best in the NFL.

"We did take it personal, all our guys," said cornerback Darrent Williams, whose fourth-quarter interception set up Denver's only touchdown. "We haven't been getting a lot of respect all week, it's been all about the Baltimore defense. We got a good defense ourselves, and we feel like we're the best defense in the league."

PLAYER NOTES

--The Broncos terminated the contract of P Todd Sauerbrun Tuesday, making way for second-year punter Paul Ernster to keep a roster spot the rest of the season.

Sauerbrun was reinstated Tuesday from a four-game NFL suspension. Ernster punted and kicked off well in his absence, including a solid performance against Baltimore on Monday night. Against the Ravens he kept dangerous returner B.J. Sams from getting any big plays.

"We're disappointed," Sauerbrun's agent David Canter said. "Just disappointed."

Prior to the decision, Ernster felt he had done enough to keep his job.

"Hopefully I've done a good enough job to put some questions in their mind as to whether or not they should bring Todd back," Ernster said.

--S Sam Brandon took John Lynch's spot in the lineup after Lynch left the game with a pinched nerve in his neck. Brandon has played a lot in nickel packages and the Broncos have confidence in him if he has to play in the base defense.

--QB Jake Plummer didn't pass very well against Baltimore but had a big 12-yard run on a third down in the fourth quarter. The Broncos know they can count on Plummer to get yards with his feet when the play breaks down.

--CB Darrent Williams is emerging as a solid cornerback opposite Champ Bailey. He had a big fourth-quarter interception against Baltimore. He should continue to improve as he gets more experience.

--WR Javon Walker had a few big catches against Baltimore. He had 63 of Denver's 106 receiving yards. Walker is gaining Jake Plummer's confidence and should have a big season.

--WR Rod Smith got in the end zone late in the fourth quarter against the Ravens. He also had a big third-down catch to set up a field goal. Smith is still a reliable veteran who will get plenty of catches in big spots.



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