CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Despite the win, Denver proves they have a long way to go to get back on track.
- The defensive performance, in particular that of rookie Sam Brandon, fourth round pick from UNLV. Brandon has turned quite a few heads during camp, but no one was quite sure how he'd perform during game time situations. If last night was any indication, Brandon will be making a name for himself in the Denver Broncos secondary.
- Running back Curtis Portis showed signs that he could indeed become the heir apparent to Terrell Davis, yet he also reminded us all that he's a rookie and will make his share of rookie mistakes. Case in point; too much dancing in the backfield and a third quarter fumble, yet the potential is definitely there.
- As usual, Jason Elam was solid. His two field goal performance, one from 49-yards out and the other from 45-yards, only solidifies the fact that the Broncos should give this Pro Bowler the extension he deserves. If Denver lets this one get away, it will be the single biggest mistake since losing Shannon Sharpe.
- More knee problems for Terrell Davis, as swelling in his left knee forced the starter to pull himself from the lineup minutes before kickoff. The knee, which Terrell had considered his "good knee", raises some serious questions as to Davis' future, not only with the team but with football in general.
"What I'm saying is, I don't know," Davis told reporters after the game. "I'm taking a wait and see attitude at this time. I feel pretty upbeat. I don't like having setbacks like this. It tends to throw me off track."
An MRI will be performed on Sunday, with results expected back on Monday.
- Special teams was anything but special against the Bears, giving up far too much yardage on punts and kickoffs. On the flip side, Denvers' longest punt return of the evening was for a mere 3-yards, not an encouraging sign. For those on the bubble, a step up on special teams is in order.
- To put it mildly, Denver's first team offense was pathetic. All told they managed a mere 22 yards in 12-plays, giving up three quarterback sacks in the process. When Griese wasn't getting blitzed, he was slow and unsure in his attempts. His fumble, deep in Bear territory, set up a Paul Edinger 36-yard field goal, Chicago's only points of the game.
- The brightest spot offensively was the second unit, behind backup Steve Beuerlein. The sixteen-year veteran did not have one of his better performances, but still managed a 9 of 12, 78-yard performance, including a 5-yard toss to Dwayne Carswell for Denver's first touchdown of the game. The touchdown culminated a 7-play, 44-yard drive.
- Also on the ugly side, the season-ending injury to Chris Cole, coming after an 18-yard pass completion from Beuerlein. Cole suffered a dislocated wrist, virtually ending his 2002 season.
"He'll be in a cast for about three months, and will not be able to play for five months," said head coach Mike Shanahan.
Despite the 27-3 win, Denver did not fare well in the eyes of Mike Shanahan. With less than one week to prepare for San Francisco, you can rest assured training camp will be shifted into high gear, with a major emphasis on first team offense.
While no one is ready to panic at this stage of the game, there is concern, and that concern will rear its ugly head for the next seven days in Greeley.
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