Unit by Unit: Quarterbacks and running backs

Read an analysis of returning quarterbacks and running backs for the Denver Broncos.

QUARTERBACK: Starter -- Jay Cutler. Backups -- Jake Plummer, Preston Parsons.

Cutler played as well as the Broncos hoped when they replaced Plummer with five games to go in the season. He started slow but had the offense performing well by the end. The Broncos hope he carries that momentum into 2007 and has a big season. He has all the physical tools and picked up the offense well. Plummer's days as a Bronco are very likely done. He will be shopped in a trade, and if there's no interest he will be released. Parsons was on the practice squad all season but has a chance to stick as Cutler's backup. Otherwise, the Broncos will look for a veteran in free agency.

RUNNING BACKS: Starters -- TB Tatum Bell, FB Kyle Johnson. Backups -- TB Mike Bell, TB Damien Nash, TB Cedric Cobbs. Injured reserve -- FB Cecil Sapp.

Tatum Bell was good at times but finished the season on a down note. He lost a costly fumble in each of Denver's last three games, and didn't run as strong as he did early in the season. He missed some time in the middle of the season with two turf toe injuries. He still broke 1,000 yards but he might not enter 2007 as the every-down starter. The Broncos will look at free agency and the draft for tailbacks if they feel Tatum Bell is best suited as a change-of-pace back.

Mike Bell played well at times but was inconsistent, which is expected from a rookie.

Neither Nash nor Cobbs distinguished themselves. Sapp was having a good season before he broke his leg. He and Johnson are restricted free agents who are expected back.

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