Denver Broncos Hot Topic - Wednesday, Nov. 15

Jake Plummer didn't have a great day against Oakland, with three interceptions. But he pulled it together when he had to and was 7-of-7 on a scoring drive that gave Denver the lead for good. Plummer can't afford any mistakes this week against San Diego

Perhaps one of the answers to the Broncos' struggling offense is getting the tight ends involved in the passing game.

That worked in Denver's 17-13 win over Oakland on Sunday. Starter Stephen Alexander had six catches for 49 yards. Nate Jackson had three catches for 33 yards. In the first eight games, the Broncos' tight ends had 11 catches.

The Broncos have historically used their tight ends a lot in the passing game under Mike Shanahan's watch, and the tight ends this year would like to get back to that.

"We don't consider ourselves just a blocking crew," Jackson said.

Jackson was in the lineup in place of rookie Tony Scheffler, who was inactive. Scheffler has had an inconsistent rookie season. Jackson is a converted receiver who has good speed and hands. His 24-yard catch against Oakland got Denver inside the 10-yard line and set up the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.

"The catch Nate had was a big, big catch," Plummer said.

Alexander came into the league as a good receiving tight end, but with the Broncos his main role has been as a blocker. He had five catches in Denver's first eight games, so he got some curious looks when he would stay late to catch balls after practice.

"(Offensive tackle) Adam Meadows looked at me and said 'What are you doing, why are you wasting your time catching balls?'" Alexander said. "I said, 'You never know.'"

PLAYER NOTES
--QB Jake Plummer didn't have a great day against Oakland, with three interceptions. But he pulled it together when he had to and was 7-of-7 on a scoring drive that gave Denver the lead for good. Plummer can't afford any mistakes this week against San Diego.

--RB Tatum Bell is still bothered by turf toe injuries and Mike Shanahan said he regretted playing Bell so much against Oakland. Bell is unlikely to be 100 percent for a while but Shanahan said he remains the starter. He will likely see his workload lessened.

--RB Mike Bell was inactive against Oakland, but Shanahan said he still has confidence in him. With Tatum Bell hurting, whoever is Denver's backup tailback this week, whether it is Mike Bell, Damien Nash or Cedric Cobbs, should get some carries.

--WR Javon Walker caught only two passes against Oakland, although both were big plays. Teams will start to give Walker more attention as the season goes on and force the Broncos' other receivers to beat them.

--WR Rod Smith said he is adjusting to being the Broncos' No. 2 receiver behind Walker. Smith hasn't had more than 69 yards in a game this season, but he is a team player and won't rock the boat because he's getting fewer passes his way.

--WR David Kircus dropped an easy third down pass early in Sunday's game against the Raiders. The Broncos have only eight catches from their backup receivers this season, and could use someone to step up and take the pressure off the starters.

--TE Tony Scheffler was inactive against Oakland, but the Broncos like Scheffler's potential. Playing time will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis at a few positions, including the tight end spots behind starter Stephen Alexander.

--K Jason Elam has missed only twice this season. His 86.7 percent mark would be his best in a season since 2003.

--DE Ebenezer Ekuban will be evaluated through the week to see if he can play against San Diego. He has a thigh injury that kept him out last week. Ekuban is a good two-way end, something that would be valuable against San Diego's versatile offense.

--LB Al Wilson blitzed more often against Oakland. A lot of that has to do with the matchup, because the Raiders can't protect the quarterback. But Wilson has the ability to get after the quarterback when asked.

--LB Nate Webster filled in for injured Ian Gold against Oakland. Webster is a versatile backup who can play all three linebacker positions. He would likely start again if Gold can't go against San Diego this week.



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