Rival Report: Broncos Make Retreads Work

The Broncos have taken castoffs from other teams and fit them into solid contributing roles. Those retreads, along with some stars, will be on display Sunday standing between the Vikings and victory.

The Broncos have had a knack for taking players nobody else wanted and making them into starters.

Just look at Denver's defense, where Darius Holland and Nick Ferguson were street free agents not too long ago, and cornerbacks Lenny Walls and Kelly Herndon went undrafted. All four are starting, along with former CFL exile Bert Berry, and playing well on a defense ranked No. 2 in the NFL.

This week, the Broncos will start another undrafted free-agent when Donnie Spragan steps in for injured weak-side linebacker Ian Gold.

"Well, we're here for a reason and we understand if we couldn't play we wouldn't be here," said defensive end Berry, who toiled in the Canadian Football League for a while before earning a starting job this year with Denver. "Coach believes in each and every one of us and that's why we wear the Broncos uniform. No matter where we came from, what your situation has been in the past, he expects you to come in and play.

"That's what guys do. So far we've been getting that done this season."

Berry is second in the AFC with 5.5 sacks.

Spragan may not be lightning-fast like Gold, but speed and smarts are his two biggest attributes. Gold is out for the rest of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

  • QB Jake Plummer said Monday that he still doesn't know if he'll be able to play this weekend against Minnesota but will have a better idea Wednesday. Chances are good that he'll get the nod if he can practice today without too much pain in his throwing shoulder.

  • LB Ian Gold will have surgery in a week or two to repair a torn ACL suffered Sunday. He will be out for the rest of the year.

  • LB Keith Burns had an MRI on his left knee Monday and it was negative, which means he has no damage only soreness. He could miss some practice time, but he'll be ready to play Sunday.

  • SS Nick Ferguson, who played well in place of Kenoy Kennedy again, is having an MRI on his knee Monday but coaches were optimistic it was nothing serious. He could hold onto the starting job even if Kennedy is healthy.

  • DT Daryl Gardener played 8-10 snaps and was credited with a tackle and an assist but coaches said he still clearly is favoring his right wrist which remains in a cast. Until he shows more improvement, he'll play only a limited role on defense.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "Rod put his money where his mouth was. He called us out, and then he came up with big plays of his own." — Tight end Shannon Sharpe on veteran wide receiver Rod Smith, who made two critical catches in the fourth quarter, including an 11-yard TD reception - his first of the year.

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