Hot Topics: Poor Running Stymies Offense

Without Tatum Bell, the Denver Broncos' running game hasn't been effective. Rookie Mike Bell has started in his place, but against the Chiefs he had 28 yards on 10 carries. Read about the running game an all the latest personnel updates in today's edition of "Hot Topics."

New quarterback Jay Cutler probably won't be able to help the Denver Broncos' struggling running game.

Jake Plummer had his share of problems under center, but the Broncos' running game is equally problematic. Denver had a season-low 38 yards at Kansas City last week, and the running game has been struggling for more than a month.

When explaining why Plummer has had a bad year, Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said he hasn't gotten much help.

"I think a lot of it has to do with us not being as successful running the football this year compared to previous years," Shanahan said. "It put a little more pressure on the quarterback I think that has a lot to do with it."

Tatum Bell should return to the lineup this week, which would help. Bell has missed three of the past four games. He has been declared inactive because he has two turf toe injuries that have slowed him down.

"The rest helped me a whole lot," Bell said.

Without Bell, the running game hasn't been effective. Rookie Mike Bell has started in his place, but against the Chiefs he had 28 yards on 10 carries.

"I need to find a way," Mike Bell said. "I can't be satisfied with two and three yards. I got to break a big one."


--QB Jay Cutler will get his first NFL start this week against Seattle. It's impossible to believe he won't be rusty. He hasn't played since the Broncos' last preseason game. The Broncos hope he gives the offense a spark.

--RB Tatum Bell said he'll return to the lineup this Sunday. The Broncos need him to be healthy. He averaged a little less than 100 yards a game in his first six starts.

--RB Mike Bell has been inconsistent, which is to be expected for a rookie. He followed a 136-yard game against Indianapolis with 28 yards against Pittsburgh, then was inactive. He bounced back to gain 90 yards two weeks ago against San Diego, then had 28 yards last week against Kansas City.

--WR Javon Walker is a great deep threat, and should benefit from rookie Jay Cutler's big arm at quarterback. However, Walker and Cutler will have to get on the same page. Plummer was good at putting the ball where Walker had a good chance to win a jump-ball situation.

--WR Rod Smith hasn't had a 100-yard game this season. In fact, he's had more than 50 yards in a game only once, on Oct. 22 against Cleveland.

--WR Brandon Marshall had three catches against Kansas City. He is a promising rookie and should continue to develop over the rest of the season.

--TE Chad Mustard caught two passes against Kansas City, his first two of the season. Mustard has been playing a lot in two tight end sets because of his blocking ability.

--K Jason Elam has missed only once since the second week of the season. He was 5-of-5 in November and is having an impressive season.

--DE Kenard Lang is tied for the team lead with six sacks. He was expected to be a backup behind Courtney Brown, but Brown suffered a season ending injury and Lang became a starter. He has been effective as an every-down end.

--DE Elvis Dumervil has gone three straight games without a sack. Teams are giving Dumervil more attention after he had a quick start to the season.

--S Hamza Abdullah played some snaps on defense against Kansas City. He is the Broncos' top backup safety after injuries to Sam Brandon and Nick Ferguson.

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