Broncos Update Insider - 10/15

Denver Broncos running back Michael Pittman has slowly earned more playing time after starting the season as a short-yardage specialist.

Broncos running back Michael Pittman slowly earned more playing time after starting the season as a short-yardage specialist. He got to start Sunday with Selvin Young nursing a groin injury, and it doesn't appear he's going to give the job back.

Coach Mike Shanahan praised Pittman for his 109-yard effort against Jacksonville, and it appears Pittman has established himself as Denver's full-time starter at tailback.

"If you play like that, you get the opportunity to have more playing time," Shanahan said. "One of the reasons he got as much playing time as he did is because of the way he played last week. He sure didn't hurt himself in this game."

Pittman ran hard on his 20 carries, and the team trusts him in all situational roles, such as blitz pickup on passing downs, which is a reason Denver decided to give him a full load against the Jaguars. Pittman rarely came off the field. Andre Hall, his backup, didn't have a carry.

The Broncos will have to decide how they'll use Young when he returns from his injury, or how rookie Ryan Torain fits in the plans when he is ready to play. For now, the 33-year-old Pittman is just happy to be a major contributor.

"I always knew I could still run the ball," Pittman said. "I showed a lot (Sunday), I believe."

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Broncos did not like two calls that went against them against Jacksonville, an illegal-contact call on third-and-17 in which Jaguars WR Reggie Williams seemed to initiate contact with CB Dre Bly, and a pass-interference call late in the game in which S Marquand Manuel claimed he didn't touch the intended receiver.

The Broncos had better luck on controversial calls earlier in the season, but they were upset at the officials after Sunday's game.

"The first couple games, I guess they've been evaluating us and saying we won games we shouldn't have won, so I guess they're going to get a call against us," Bly said.

--Broncos coach Mike Shanahan defended his decision to go for it instead of kick a 47-yard field goal on fourth-and-1 late in the first half. Michael Pittman was stuffed for no gain.

"It was not a bad choice on my part," Shanahan said. "I would have went for it again. I wish I could have chosen a different play."

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
PLAYER NOTES
--RB Andre Hall didn't get a carry against Jacksonville and could find himself as the third tailback when Selvin Young gets back, maybe the fourth when Ryan Torain is ready to play. Hall still has value as a kickoff returner.
--DT Kenny Peterson continues to play well. He forced a fumble against Jacksonville and almost had another sack before David Garrard squirted free. Peterson is a key member of Denver's defensive line rotation.
--DT Marcus Thomas has been a starter for Denver but still hasn't recorded a sack in his career. If the Broncos could get some interior pass rush from him, it would help their pass defense.
--CB Champ Bailey has one interception in six games. Teams aren't going his way much, preferring to test Dre Bly or work the middle of the field.
--WR Darrell Jackson's role next week will be determined by who is healthy. If Brandon Stokley and Eddie Royal return, Jackson might not play much. Glenn Martinez likely would be active because he plays special teams.



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