Schon: Broncos Daily Update - Weekend Edition

Tony Scheffler hopes to keep it rolling this Sunday in Pittsburgh, Gerard Warren's good to go and with one more win, Mike Shanahan can move into 17th place in NFL history.

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Friday, November 3, 2006
The Broncos welcomed back Gerard Warren to the mix – Warren was officially cleared to play Sunday after sitting out last week's loss to the Colts with turf toe. Broncos will take a cautious approach with Warren and may limit his minutes if the pain reoccurs.

…The Steeler's recent struggles haven't fooled anyone at Dove Valley. Mike Shanahan and Larry Coyer have spent a good part of the week reminding anyone that would listen just how dangerous Bill Cowher's 2-5 team is.

…Kicker Paul Ernster will be hanging next week, answering viewer's questions – If you miss the show check out FOX Sports or Broncos Update for the full transcripts. Got a question – drop me a line…

…Tight-End Tony Scheffler had a career day against the Indianapolis Colts and hopes to continue that run in the Steel City – although it's not necessarily something the rookie takes for granted - "I'm just looking at it as a few extra things coming my way in the game plan," Scheffler told reporters.

…Interesting stats - over the course of eighteen games played against the Steelers during the regular season, Denver holds an 11-6-1 mark – in six post-season match-ups the teams are deadlocked at 3-3. The Broncos also hold a 5-4 advantage playing in Pittsburgh.

…Forget the stats – Vegas is rolling with Pitt by three.

…If Shanahan is lucky enough to pull one out in Pittsburgh, he'll tie legendary coach Hank Stram for 17th place in NFL history for career wins with 136.

…Longtime columnist Woody Paige has given up his gig at ESPN and will be returning home to Denver for another stint at the Denver Post.

Apparently a two-year dance on the pathetic program "Cold Pizza" was enough to convince the columnist he wan't meant for the Big Apple, although he will remain a regular on "Around the Horn", with his segment being shot locally.

…No changes on the medical front – Broncos have the same ten players listed as probable (scroll down to Wednesday for the Official Injury Report). Steelers list remains unchanged - LB James Harrison, C Jeff Hartings, S Mike Logan and WR Willie Reid are definitely out.

"Two wins for the year - that's not the way you expect the Super Bowl champs would start the year off. "
- Pittsburgh Steelers WR Hines Ward

Thursday, November 2, 2006
A quick look at the mainstream media and you'll see that the Broncos nearly fell off the map after last week's performance against the Colts – especially on the defensive side of the ball. It's amazing that one week you're setting records that haven't been broken in decades (five touchdowns allowed over the course of seven games) and the next week you're back to being dog meat. But that's the NFL…

"You get hit in the face once in a while, you've got to get up," Defensive Coordinator Larry Coyer said. "That's the test. Get off the ground. Everybody gets knocked down, the test is get up… and get better."

…Bill Cowher seems to be perfectly content with Roethlisberger under center, despite his recent four-interception fiasco against the Raiders – advantage Broncos. After Shanahan cracked open the playbook last week, the offense began to show signs of life. The focus this week has been to take that level a step further – and from what I've seen, the players seem comfortable with it - look for a gradual move towards the tight end position, but clearly Javon Walker is Plummer's "Go To" guy and should play out strong for those of you on the fantasy circuit.

Denver's injury situation remains identical to yesterday's – and since I'm far too lazy to retype the entire thing, those that are so inclined can scroll down and find the same ten people listed as probable. Ditto on the Steelers side with the exception of DT Casey Hampton (hamstring) who was upgraded from questionable to probable.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006
News came down from the league office that Champ Bailey will be named the AFC Defensive Player of the Month tomorrow – Bailey pulled down three picks with twenty tackles and nine pass breakups over four games in October. That's twice this month that the Broncos cornerback topped the league, which makes him only the third player in franchise history to be selected as an AFC Player of the Month more than once – John Elway and Terrell Davis round out the list.

…Injuries appear to be healing nicely – everybody participated in the team portion of practice today, although Tatum Bell and Gerard Waren are still recovering from turf toe. Broncos listed nine players on Wednesday's Injury Report – all considered probable.

CB Champ Bailey (Ankle) Probable
RB Tatum Bell (Toe) Probable
RB Cedric Cobbs (Ankle) Probable
LB Ian Gold (Hamstring) Probable
FB Kyle Johnson (Ankle) Probable
C/G Chris Myers (Shoulder) Probable
TE Tony Scheffler (Hip) Probable
DT Gerard Warren (Toe) Probable
LB D.J. Williams (Foot) Probable
LB Al Wilson (Thumb) Probable

The Steelers list LB James Harrison, C Jeff Hartings, S Mike Logan and WR Willie Reid as definitely out - DT Casey Hampton comes in as questionable and LB Larry Foote, LB Clark Haggans, WR Santonio Holmes, G Chris Kemoeatu , FB Dan Kreider, WR Sean Morey, S Troy Polamalu, CB Deshea Townsend and WR Cedrick Wilson all come down as probable.

Despite the obvious revenge factor heading into Sunday's game, Mike Shanahan downplayed the idea that last year's loss provides a little extra motivation to the players.

"Obviously you get ready for them and we missed an opportunity last year, but that is over with and now you are trying to go in a new direction and hopefully take advantage of an opportunity this year. You look forward to it but Pittsburgh is done and we are playing the Super Bowl champs."

Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Happy Halloween to all you Broncos freaks out there, Players day off so it was dark at Dove Valley today - action resumes tomorrow with Big Ben's conference call, Bill Cowher's call and the standard Plummer/Shanahan media circus.

…Given the choice, Denver Broncos "D" lineman Ebenezer Ekuban would rather face Roethlisburger than Charlie Batch this Sunday in the Steel City. Can you blame him? "Nothing against Ben, he's a Super Bowl quarterback," Ekuban told reporters. "But you know what, the tape doesn't lie. I would rather right now face Ben than Charlie Batch because of how the offense seems to get going with Charlie Batch in there."

…Mike Bell was one of five players nominated for the NFL Rookie of the Week today – Bell rocked it out against the Colts with 136 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries - log onto before Thursday at 5:00 pm EST and bang a vote out for Bell. As of late afternoon Tuesday, Bell had a 32-31 per cent lead in the voting.

…John Lynch and Rod Smith broke out the suits today, hanging with Colorado Senator Wayne Allard and the kids at George Washington High School in Denver. The two dropped by to plug the educational computer game "Financial Football" - an animated computer game that helps teach proper money management.

…Here's one for you - Two of the last three meetings between the Broncos and the Steelers have occurred in AFC Championship Games... and we all remember how the last one turned out.

Monday, October 30, 2006
It was a "back to the drawing board" kind of day at Dove Valley this afternoon, with Mike Shanahan fielding at least twice the number of questions he normally does during his Monday media session.

For those of you too tired or lazy to read the full transcripts (which are available here) – here's the skinny –

...Tatum Bell's turf toe really played a factor in yesterday's loss, in fact the running back told the head coach how much pain he was in at halftime – prompting Shanahan to pull the plug and bringing in rookie Mike Bell.

...Yes, he agrees with the call that Jake Plummer fumbled the ball before he was officially down - "It was a fumble. He landed on somebody and obviously his legs weren't down so it was a correct call."

...You can't blame Darrent Williams for the defensive backfield's problems. On at least one of the Reggie Wayne touchdowns there was miscommunication on coverage assignments – "It was just a miscommunication… He was running a different coverage- but all in all Darrent played a pretty good game. We look at the film and if a guy has deep third, he has deep third and we can't let them keep coming up with a big play."

...And the quote of the day came on a question of whether or not he would have replaced Tatum if he'd not been injured - "I guess we might as well start that controversy and get away from the quarterbacks. By the way Jake (Plummer) is our quarterback this week."

...Speaking of Plummer, it's still a split field when it comes to fan support. Despite improving his numbers tremendously over the previous weeks, many are still clamoring that it's time for the Jay Cutler Era to begin. Tough crowd in Denver – anything less than back to back is not acceptable. Just ask Brian Griese.

...Gerard Warren's sprained toe is still cause for concern – it'll be a game time decision this week in Pittsburgh, whether or not the six-year defensive lineman will even take the field.

...Erik Pears, Lepsis' replacement on the front line, did a pretty decent job in his first game at starting left tackle. Squaring off against 268lb.defensive end Dwight Freeney is no walk in the park, but the rookie held the vet to just half-a-sack for the entire game. The success of the roll out padded those stats a bit, but Pears played it solid and should fill in nicely in Lepsis' absence.

Michael John Schon has covered the National Football League and the Denver Broncos for the past ten years. As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association he has published and syndicated columns to both newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and Canada. His syndicated radio broadcast: "Schon Live" airs weekly on various radio stations around the country.

Schon can be reached at

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