Broncos Update Insider: Elway gives approval

Former Denver Broncos Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway said he thinks Cutler can be the quarterback fans have been hoping for since he retired. Read about Elway's comments and get all the latest personnel updates in today's "Insider."

Denver Broncos fans might be a bit nervous after Jay Cutler's first start, but the enthusiasm for the rookie quarterback is still strong.

Cutler, a first round-pick who replaced Jake Plummer as the Broncos' starting quarterback last week, struggled in his debut. He had less than 100 yards passing before rookie receiver Brandon Marshall had a great run on a 71-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter.

But the Broncos said he didn't play that poorly. There were some mistakes, but that is to be expected.

And before this week's game against San Diego, Cutler got the best recommendation a quarterback in the state of Colorado can have. Former Broncos Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway said he thinks Cutler can be the quarterback fans have been hoping for since he retired.

"I think Jay's the guy," Elway said. "I think I'm going to answer those questions until they find the guy. I think Jay's got a chance to do it. Jake did a good job but Cutler's just a different guy, a different style. He can throw the ball downfield and drop back a little bit."

Cutler said expectations were probably too high for his first start.

"A lot of people thought we'd go out there and throw for 300 yards and four touchdowns and win by 30," Cutler said. "But I think we took a little bit more realistic approach to it and knew there was going to be some good and some bad."

Cutler will have to withstand the pressure of playing quarterback for the Broncos, a position that has non-stop scrutiny. A lot of that is the legacy of Elway, who retired after winning his second straight Super Bowl.

"I kind of feel bad because I'm brought into it all the time," Elway said. "I think because of the bar that has been set here and the expectations the fans have, that's tough."

Elway said he thought some of that pressure weighed on Plummer, who had 12 interceptions and 11 touchdowns this season.

"I feel for Jake because he was under a lot of pressure to win, and having a first-rounder behind you makes it more difficult," Elway said. "It was a tough situation for Jake but he did the best he could with it."

Elway said he thought Cutler would need some time to get comfortable, because he did. Cutler completed 10 of 21 passes for 143 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions against Seattle. That's far better than Elway's debut. Elway started the 1983 season opener against Pittsburgh and completed one of eight passes for 14 yards.

"You're away from the game for eight years and people look at you like you never made a mistake," Elway said. "You used to crucify me. I'm a God now. I went through the same things everyone else is going through, the things Jay is going to go through and Jake has gone through."

Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said he should have had a simpler game plan for Cutler's first start. But he didn't regret making the move when he did.

"You make those decisions, and you go on," Shanahan said. "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."

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Broncos gave cornerback Domonique Foxworth a tough assignment last week, and he handled it well. Foxworth, who played one play at safety in college and a few at safety at the end of the Pittsburgh game because of injuries, played most of Sunday's game against Seattle at strong safety.

Broncos coach Mike Shanahan wouldn't confirm Foxworth is now a starter at safety, but said he will play a lot there.

"I think he'll get better and better at the position the more comfortable he feels, being able to adjust to the ball in a different area of the field which he's not used to," Shanahan said.

--Broncos rookie running back Mike Bell took the blame for a fumbled handoff against Seattle. Bell, who has been inconsistent this season, said he tried to do too much too soon.

"That was my fault," Bell said. "I tried to cut back before I had the ball."

--Broncos linebacker Al Wilson returned to practice Wednesday, an amazing sight considering he was carted off the field and left the stadium in an ambulance after suffering a neck injury on Sunday. Wilson said he knew he wasn't seriously injured but understood the precaution.

"I think everyone else was a little more worried than I was," Wilson said.

The Broncos won't proclaim Wilson fit to play until he gets through a week of practice with no problems.

"I think everyone else was a little more worried than I was," Wilson said.

BY THE NUMBERS: 24 -- Years since the Chargers swept the Broncos. San Diego won at Denver earlier this season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've got to dig deep inside and decide what direction we want to go." -- Running back Tatum Bell after Denver's third straight loss.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Broncos put fullback Cecil Sapp on injured reserve because of a broken leg, but didn't immediately replace him on the roster. The Broncos will wait and evaluate some of their injury situations before making a roster move.

Losing Sapp is a tough blow. He wasn't a full-time starter, but was a good player on Denver's struggling special teams. He also was a versatile offensive player because he was very effective on inside runs. Sapp was a tailback in college at Colorado State.

PLAYER NOTES

--TE Stephen Alexander can play fullback in a pinch. The Broncos are thin at the position after Cecil Sapp suffered a season-ending leg injury last week.

--WR Brandon Marshall will continue to see his role in the offense grow. He's getting more comfortable and showed with last week's long touchdown that he's capable of making big plays.

--LB Nate Webster is capable of filling in for Al Wilson if Wilson can't play this week because of a neck injury. Webster made a lot of plays in training camp and caught the eyes of the coaches. He hasn't been active because he doesn't play special teams.

--P Paul Ernster would be Jason Elam's replacement if Elam can't play this week because of a hamstring injury. Ernster has a strong leg -- he kicks off for the Broncos -- and was a kicker in college. The Broncos think his range is about 50 yards.

--S John Lynch played most of the first game against San Diego up near the line of scrimmage. The Broncos might not blitz Philip Rivers as much the second time around.


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