The Broncos were 6-2 going into Sunday's game at Oakland, but they decided to tinker with the lineup a bit.
At offensive right tackle, former first-round pick George Foster was benched, and former Colts starter Adam Meadows took his place. Foster had been Denver's starting right tackle since the start of the 2004 season, but he wasn't playing well enough to satisfy coach Mike Shanahan.
"George has done some good things, but obviously I was disappointed enough to make a change and get a chance to see what Adam could do," Shanahan said.
Meadows came out of retirement and signed with Denver during training camp. A longtime starter with Indianapolis, he retired before the 2004 season because of shoulder problems.
Denver also shook things up at running back. Mike Bell, a starter the previous week at Pittsburgh when Tatum Bell was hurt, was deactivated. So was Cedric Cobbs, who was Denver's third tailback all season. Damien Nash was signed off the practice squad to serve as Tatum Bell's backup against Oakland.
Shanahan said Nash practiced well and deserved a shot. Mike Bell rushed for 135 yards in the first half against Indianapolis two weeks ago, then struggled in his start against Pittsburgh. He said he wasn't told by the coaches why he was being demoted.
"I understand this is part of the business," Mike Bell said. "I know it doesn't take away from what I feel about myself as a player because I know I can still play football."
--RT George Foster, Denver's starting right tackle for two-and-a-half years, was benched against Oakland. He said he didn't understand why he was being replaced by Adam Meadows.
"I think I've played OK," Foster said. "I'm not sure exactly why the change came about. I'll deal with it.
"I'm surprised, but you can't get inside people's heads and know why things happen."
--Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said he shouldn't have played Tatum Bell almost the whole game against Oakland. Bell had 37 yards on 14 carries and is still bothered by two injured big toes.
"I'm kind of disappointed in myself I played Tatum Bell as much as I did," Shanahan said. "Even though he says he's healthy, I don't think he's as healthy as he says he is. I saw that in the game."
Shanahan didn't lay out a plan for Bell's recovery.
"We'll have to wait and see," Shanahan said. "Sometimes it's rest, sometimes it's treatment, a combination of both, but we'll evaluate that as time goes on."
PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES
--CB Champ Bailey added to his case for being the NFL's defensive player of the year. Matched up against Randy Moss on Sunday, he held the Oakland receiver to one catch for 8 yards.
--TE Tony Scheffler was inactive against Oakland. He has had an up and down rookie season, and the Broncos decided to go with Nate Jackson ahead of him in the tight end rotation.
--DE John Engelberger started for injured Ebenezer Ekuban and played well against Oakland. Engelberger is an unheralded part of Denver's defensive line rotation, but he is a solid veteran.
--TE Nate Jackson had three catches against Oakland, including a big one in the fourth quarter that set up the go-ahead touchdown. Jackson is a converted receiver, and the Broncos like his versatility in the passing game.
--DE Kenard Lang had a pair of sacks against Oakland. Lang has played well all season. He replaced injured Courtney Brown in the starting lineup and has been an effective pass rusher. He quietly signed as a free agent in the offseason but is paying off for the Broncos.
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