Sauerbrun out, Ernster in

The Denver Broncos had little patience with punter Todd Sauerbrun, especially once their playoff hopes were finished.

The Broncos released Sauerbrun on Tuesday and signed Paul Ernster, who was their punter last year. Sauerbrun was cited for municipal ordinance violations of disturbing the peace, simple assault and failure to pay a cab fare after an alleged altercation with a cab driver two weeks ago.

Sauerbrun claimed last week that he was innocent.

"That's the bad part about it, no matter what happens with me, pretty much the damage is already out there, and that's what hurts," Sauerbrun said. "It's hurtful, especially when the person knows he's innocent."

The Broncos released Sauerbrun last season after he served a four-game suspension for a violation of the league's policy on steroids and banned substances. He said he tested positive for ephedra.

Sauerbrun signed with New England late last season, then an arbitrator ruled this offseason that Sauerbrun was an unrestricted free agent because the Patriots made a mistake on the paperwork on their right of first refusal. Ernster didn't have a great season in 2006 so the Broncos took Sauerbrun back.

The Broncos will get another look at Ernster, who played in one game for Cleveland this season. Ernster can also handle kickoffs, which the Broncos require from their punter.

The Broncos also put safety Nick Ferguson on injured reserve with a knee injury, promoted safety Roderick Rogers from the practice squad and cut safety Marviel Underwood.

PLAYER NOTES

--QB Jay Cutler passed the 3,000-yard mark last week. He hasn't thrown an interception in two games, and is finishing his first full season as a starter strong.

--RB Travis Henry is playing even though he doesn't look 100 percent after suffering a knee injury. He probably won't have a huge impact the rest of the season because of the injury, and he's splitting time with Selvin Young.

--RB Selvin Young has a chance to make a push for a large role in 2008, especially if he finishes the season strong. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan has said that he thinks Young can be a starting tailback in the NFL.

--WR Brandon Marshall didn't make his first Pro Bowl team, but his numbers were comparable to the four receivers who did. Marshall still has a shot at 100 catches, and he could vie for a Pro Bowl spot next season.

--WR Brandon Stokley could return to the lineup with a few extra days rest for his injured knee. Stokley would help take pressure off Brandon Marshall, who has 21 catches in Denver's last two games.

--WR Javon Walker will finish out the season, and then the Broncos will have a tough decision to make. He is owed $4.4 million in bonuses during the offseason, and is coming off his second knee surgery in three years.

--TE Tony Scheffler will have a good chance to finish this season strong in the final two games, if Daniel Graham is out with an ankle injury. Scheffler has had a solid season despite an offseason foot injury that has hindered him all year.

--K Jason Elam will set the Broncos record for most games played this week. His 235th career game will put him one ahead of quarterback John Elway.

--CB Champ Bailey was named to his fourth straight Pro Bowl in four seasons with the Broncos. Bailey hasn't had a great season like he did in 2006 but he is still among the top corners in the game.

--DE Elvis Dumervil and his 11 sacks were not invited to the Pro Bowl. But Dumervil is making strides, has shown he can be a full-time starter and should get consideration again next season.

--S John Lynch didn't make the Pro Bowl for the first time in his four seasons with the Broncos. Lynch dealt with a neck stinger in the middle of the season, and will evaluate after the year if he returns for one more season with the Broncos.

--S Nick Ferguson's season is over because of a knee injury, for the second straight year. Ferguson is a good special teams player but lost his starting job this season, and his future with the team isn't certain.



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