Schon: Broncos Daily Update 12/7/06

Rod Smith does his best to explain the Broncos struggling offense, Special Teams may get some new faces and safety Steve Cargile is added to the active roster off the practice squad. Check out all the latest in today's edition of Broncos Daily Update.

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Thursday, December 7, 2006
Rod Smith drew quite a crowd of reporters as he sat in front of his locker today. The wide receiver agreed to answer one question, then spent the better part of the next five minutes answering that question. Here's some of the highlights- "We have to right some wrongs over the past three weeks - we haven't played well, we've turned the ball over way too many times, myself included, and that's uncharacteristic of me." "I've definitely got to lead by example – going out there and playing with a certain amount of energy, a certain amount of fire. One thing that will be able to help us offensively is to step up the tempo, how we get in and out of the huddle, how we get up to the line." We're to the point where we're not desperate – but we're desperate, you know - desperate for a win." There'll be some familiar but unexpected faces on the Broncos special teams unit this Sunday – the amount of season ending injuries the team has sustained, required some of the starters to step up and fill in the gaps. "Well we have had a few guys banged up so there is no choice, said Mike Shanahan. "Any time you lose some guys like (S) Nick Ferguson or (S) Sam Brandon or even (DE) Courtney Brown or a guy like (RB) Cecil Sapp, you get a few guys banged up who can't practice and can't play because of an injury you don't have a choice. These guys know it and these guys step up - a guy like (CB) Champ Bailey was the first to say put me in there and you have a lot of guys like that and (LB) Ian Gold as well. You have a lot of guys that want to help your football team win and they understand what it takes. Only 45 dress on game day, and everybody has a roll." Al Wilson practiced for the second straight day, and by all indications should be able to suit up this Sunday against the Chargers - "He's taken most of the reps in practice, so we're sure hoping he's playing," said Shanahan. "Unless there's a setback, he'll play." The team made a few roster moves today signing safety Steve Cargile off their practice squad and onto the active roster, and adding fullback Keith Belton to the practice squad. Cargile fills the roster spot of Cecil Sapp, who was place on injured – reserve with a broken leg. Injury report remains identical to yesterdays – scroll down for an exact list of and status report. The team will have ne last practice tomorrow, then a quick walk-thru on Saturday, before boarding the charter for San Diego.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006
Four days after being carted of the field on a stretcher, Al Wilson returned to practice. The tingling sensation in his back and shoulders has disappeared and team doctors have cleared him to begin workouts. His status for San Diego is uncertain at this stage, but Mike Shanahan appeared optimistic that the eight-year veteran might be ready to go – "We will see how he feels and if there are any setbacks and just approach it day by day."

Speaking of Shanahan, the head coach still insists he made the right decision to Jay Cutler into the starting role, despite the sluggish debut last week against the Seahawks.

"I thought he gave us the best chance to win," Shanahan said. "You make those decisions, and you go on. Sometimes it's a tough decision. Sometimes it doesn't look crystal clear why you made the decision, but I believe it's the best thing for us."

You don't often see a crowd of reporters standing in line to interview the team's punter - but then again you don't often see a punter making the heavy rotation on ESPN highlights either. Paul Ernster became the victim of both after he trotted onto the field last Sunday - completely forgetting his helmet. An NFL official noticed the blunder and had a few choice words for the second-year vet, who promptly headed back t the sideline to retrieve his lid from the equipment manger.

"I can't really say exactly what he said," said Ernster, it was something like ‘What are you doing, idiot? Get your helmet on - That and a few other choice words. As I was running to the sidelines, everybody's looking at me like ‘What's wrong with this meathead? Why is he running off the field? That's when I'd realized I've got my beanie on, fortunately one of our equipment guys grabbed my helmet and gave it to me at the sideline, so I could get out there."

Stephan Alexander, Jason Elam, Al Wilson and Adam Meadows are all listed as questionable on the teams' official injury report – twelve other players are listed as probable - Hamza Abdullah (hip), Keith Burns (knee), Darrent Williams (shoulder), Eric Pears (ankle), Patrick Chukwurah (finger), Ben Hamilton (thigh), Quentin Harris (finger), Nate Jackson (ribs), Mike Leach (thumb), Brandon Marshall (ankle), Chad Mustard (shoulder) and Demetrin Veal (knee).

Monday, December 4, 2006
It was a somber locker room at Dove Valley today – between the Al Wilson neck injury, the less than spectacular debut of rookie Jay Cutler, the broken leg of running back Cecil Sapp and the confusion as to how this team could have dropped three straight, left everyone speechless – except of course Mike Shanahan.

He seemed to have all the right answers – or at least the politically correct ones. In a nutshell – He feels Jay Cutler had a pretty good debut game – he's sticking to his guns with the rookie and isn't considering a switch back this season – and he's optimistic that Al Wilson may be able to return to the lineup in time for San Diego.

While the head coach appeared optimistic, those inside the locker room were a little more realistic, understanding that to even make a shot at the Wild Card they'll need to pretty much run the table, and with a rookie leading the pack that may be close to impossible.

Jason Elam's nursing a sore hamstring - the result of Sunday night's fake field goal attempt. It makes you wonder why Shanahan would risk one of the best field goal kickers in league, with a history of leg problems; on a play that the head coach admits was pretty much conceived on the spot.

Al Wilson made an appearance at Dove Valley this morning, visiting with Mike Shanahan and several teammates. MRI and X-ray examinations came up negative but he still has a tingling sensation in the shoulders as well as his back and triceps.

Cecil Sapp was not as fortunate – x-rays revealed a left fibular fracture, which will sideline the four-year vet the remainder of the season. Surgery has not yet been scheduled, but it is expected to be withi the next two weeks. Sapp suffered the injury while on special teams during the fourth quarter of last night's game.

Former Broncos defensive back Tyrone Braxton got popped over the weekend by Aurora police, charged with posession of marijuana and cocaine. Monday Braxton came clean, admitting that he had been taking drugs earlier in the day, but he denied any knowledge of prostitution, a charge that was brought against the two people Braxton had been doing drugs with.

Police charged Grant Lindberg, 29, and Audrey Linda Rose Evans, 21, of furthering prostitution, a misdemeanor in the state of Colorado.

"He had set up sexual activity between Braxton and this woman for money," Sgt. Rudy Herrera Jr. said. "Beyond that they were engaging in the use of cocaine."

Tomorrow the players will take the day off, practice resumes Wednesday with Mike Shanahan and Jay Cutler's press conference as well as a conference call with Marty Shottenheimer and a member of the Chargers.

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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