View Full Version : Collection of Articles on Mini Camp Day 1
07-07-2006, 12:46 AM
Article Launched: 07/07/2006 01:00:00 AM MDT
RB Cobbs eager to show he can play
By Adrian Dater
Denver Post Staff Writer
The Broncos' Cedric Cobbs hopes to join the list of unheralded running backs who have found success playing in coach Mike Shanahan's system. (Post / Hyoung Chang)
Cedric Cobbs is a running back looking to fulfill untapped potential. He is wearing the right uniform for such a quest.
If not the next Terrell Davis, Cobbs is hoping to become the latest in a long succession of unheralded runners who found success playing in coach Mike Shanahan's system with the Broncos.
"If you come day-in, day-out and work your butt off and do everything they want you to do, then you definitely have a great chance of making the ball team here," Cobbs said Thursday, after the first day of the Broncos' three-day minicamp at Dove Valley. "If you listen to them, then you will definitely become a better player. Here, you'll get your chance. I feel fortunate to come here and learn a lot more than I knew when I came to the NFL."
Cobbs, 25, spent last season on the Broncos' practice squad, but entered minicamp listed third on the depth chart, behind Ron Dayne and Tatum Bell. Once touted by ESPN The Magazine as the next Bo Jackson, Cobbs has struggled to get his NFL career off the ground since coming out of Arkansas in 2003.
Drafted in the fourth round by New England in 2004, Cobbs rushed 22 times for 50 yards in the Patriots' Super Bowl season, missing much of the season with a knee injury. He got hurt again in the 2005 preseason with the Patriots, and was released soon after, then signed with the Broncos as a free agent.
He enters minicamp healthy, hopeful it will stay that way, and eager to prove he can play at the highest level.
"I always knew for a fact that I had the talent to come out and be a star in the NFL," said Cobbs, 6-foot, 235 pounds. "But like they say, talent isn't everything. So, I want to put everything mentally together and do everything
that they ask me to do to become the best player that I can be."
Some of the mental aspects Cobbs is trying to improve upon are his resilience in the face of adversity, and an overall self-image as a fighter.
"I've learned over the past couple of years that speed and ability and strength are not always the key," Cobbs said. "Because everybody in the NFL has a good technique. But I think I have a great attribute, of heart. I'm going to keep fighting until the last second, no matter how tired I am. I feel like I'm someone that's eager to learn. It's been an uphill battle for me, especially getting drafted and being released by another team and coming here and being on the practice squad."
Shanahan wasted little time signing Cobbs when New England cut him. The Broncos boss indicated he believes Cobbs has what it takes to be a successful reclamation project.
"Cedric is a guy that we felt very highly of coming out of Arkansas. We liked his running style," Shanahan said. "We felt very fortunate to get him on our football team when he was released. Now, he's competing for the starting jobs."
Staff writer Adrian Dater can be reached at 303-820-5454 or email@example.com.
07-07-2006, 12:47 AM
Article Launched: 07/07/2006 01:00:00 AM MDT
denver broncos notes
Walker almost up to speed
By Adrian Dater
Denver Post Staff Writer
Broncos wide receiver Javon Walker works out during Thursday's minicamp at Dove Valley. (Post / Hyoung Chang)
Javon Walker was just about able to match his fellow Broncos receivers on the practice field Thursday.
In other words, it was an encouraging start for the former Pro Bowl on the first day of minicamp at Dove Valley. After missing most of 2005 with a torn ACL in his right knee, Walker went through a full practice with his new teammates and emerged with a smile on his face.
"Just to get out there and run routes and do everything at the same pace as everybody else, it felt pretty good," said Walker, who signed a six-year, $40 million contract with Denver this offseason.
About the only thing Walker, the former Green Bay Packer who was third in the NFL in receiving yards (1,382) in 2004, did not do Thursday was run routes against defensive back pressure. That will happen, he believes, right on schedule in his rehabilitation: at the start of training camp, July 27. In fact, Walker said he is ahead of schedule.
"But just to get out there today and run the routes and do what the coaches say, and go through the offense - that means I'm a little bit ahead (of schedule)," Walker said. "It was supposed to be training camp that I'm there running routes, but I'm running routes now. Once training camp comes around, we'll see from there. But I feel good. The trainers obviously don't want me to do anything that will give me a setback. But finally, that I'm out there talking trash and get to bring my helmet out there and run routes, that's a big confidence lifter for me."
Broncos coach Mike Shanahan liked what he saw of Walker, but cautioned against expecting too much, too soon.
"He's kind of biting at the bit, but we don't want to put him in a position where he's competing against other players right now, because he'll probably push himself a little too hard at this stage," Shanahan said. "But we've got a few weeks before we get started, and he's exactly where we hoped he'd be."
Plummer case rescheduled
A pretrial hearing for quarterback Jake Plummer's alleged road-rage incident was rescheduled Thursday in Englewood Municipal Court.
The Broncos quarterback was issued a summons in May to face a misdemeanor violation for intent to "injure or destroy property" following a dispute April 20 in which Plummer allegedly kicked a headlight on another driver's vehicle and then backed his Honda Element into the motorist's truck.
The quarterback has denied the claim, saying he was in a hurry to
get to a charity event and was talking on a cellphone. Plummer said he accidentally cut the driver off and that the motorist bumped into him at a stoplight.
The new pretrial hearing is scheduled for 3 p.m., Aug. 3. Plummer entered a not guilty plea last month.
Droughns case continued
Former Broncos running back Reuben Droughns appeared briefly Thursday in Arapahoe District Court in Littleton in a domestic violence case. The case was continued to Aug. 21 for a pretrial conference.
Kathleen Walsh, director of communications for the 18th Judicial District, said the district attorney could not discuss specific reasons for the case being continued, but that pretrial conferences can include resolving a case by plea bargain.
Droughns, now with the Cleveland Browns, faces one count of third-degree assault, a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to two years in jail, and two counts of harassment, a misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to 6 months in jail for each count, Walsh said.
The charges stem from a May 12 incident in Centennial. The Associated Press reported that an arrest report said Droughns threw his wife, Kellie, out the door of their suburban home after she said she wanted a divorce. Droughns last month apologized for bringing "negative attention" to the team.
Droughns and his attorney, Adam Tucker, declined comment Thursday.
Shanahan praised the first-day work of rookie quarterback Jay Cutler, saying, "He's very talented. There's a learning curve at the quarterback position, but we'll let the process take care of itself with him." ... Former Colorado State star Cecil Sapp was running with the first team at fullback ahead of Kyle Johnson, last year's starter.
Denver Post staff writers Robert Sanchez and Annette Espinoza contributed to this story.
Adrian Dater can be reached at 303-820-5454 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
07-07-2006, 12:47 AM
No guts, no glory, no Lelie
By Mark Kiszla
Denver Post Staff Columnist
There is a cold, hard reason why Broncos receiver Ashley "AWOL" Lelie will never be the football player that graying Rod Smith is at age 36, the same reason Denver absolutely needs Smith to reach the Super Bowl, while Lelie could sit out this entire NFL season on a beach in Hawaii and nobody would care if he sent a postcard.
Lelie does not have the guts to take the hard route. He is a prima donna in shoulder pads. AWOL Ashley dances and spins for the pretty touchdown catch, but prefers not to get dirt under his nails when the going gets tough.
Smith would run barefoot over hot coals to grab a dagger with his teeth, if it meant moving the chains for the Broncos on third down in the fourth quarter with the game tied.
Smith, who lives to compete, wakes every morning in fear the team has removed his nameplate from the Denver locker room.
AWOL Ashley, who refuses to come out and play with the Broncos because his poor little feelings are hurt, seems convinced the game owes him something, which, in this Not For Long league, is a good way to go broke faster than Lelie can sprint a 40-yard dash.
OK. Let me offer sincere apologies for suggesting Lelie is gutless, childish and stupid.
That was mean, especially because we all know how easily Lelie's tender ego bruises.
But, at high noon, the boss busted AWOL Ashley for being chicken, if my ears did not deceive me.
"If you want to compete and be the No. 1 guy, why not be here?" Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said Thursday. When roll was called for the team's mandatory minicamp, Lelie was away without leave, at home pouting because Denver does not love him enough. Lelie is boycotting the Broncos, in hopes of coercing a trade to a team with a finer appreciation for his delicate genius.
"If you're afraid of competing against a No. 1 guy who's 35 years old, I don't think you're going to find a better scenario," said Shanahan, whose No. 1 pass-catcher is so old the coach has lost count of birthdays.
Moments earlier, as Smith trotted away from a practice he would dare not miss, I uncouthly commented how distinguished the 11-year veteran looked with all those new flecks of gray hair sprouting from his scalp. "Stress," explained Smith, wincing. "I didn't have gray hair until we lost the AFC championship game."
The agony of losing to Pittsburgh and missing a shot at another championship ring aged him, Smith said, before changing the subject by inspecting my balding pate and conservatively guessing my age at 80.
Returning a verbal jab at Smith, who enjoys sparring with foes great and small, I asked if he was too ancient to remain the No. 1 receiver for the Broncos.
"What is a No. 1 receiver? I don't understand that," said Smith, growing irritated, but maybe not for the reason you might think.
Unlike Lelie, Smith does not really care who's the football hero or whose mug is plastered on billboards around town.
"I just want to win games," Smith said.
Smith recently tried to telephone Lelie.
Sadly, Lelie did not return the call from his wise, old teammate.
"So when I see him, I'm going to smack him," Smith said.
Some young fools don't get the message until it's too late.
That's a bummer, because, in addition to quick feet, Lelie possesses a heart of gold that has touched disadvantaged kids in Colorado. He has been a good neighbor if not a stellar receiver.
No teammate will begrudge Lelie his holdout, because the Broncos all realize the NFL shreds contracts and tosses players to the curb faster than you can say, "Turn in your playbook."
But here's the problem with Lelie putting his foot down in a petulant demand for respect.
He comes off as a kid throwing a tantrum rather than a man to be respected.
In 2005, Lelie caught one - count 'em - one touchdown pass for the Broncos, or exactly one less than Dwayne Carswell, who dents the scales at almost 300 pounds and wears No. 77. After four seasons in the NFL, Lelie's reputation for getting behind the secondary is far outstripped by his image for being softer than a crying towel. Heck, the halitosis of a strong safety can knock over AWOL Ashley. Lelie demanding a trade? Shanahan must have to choke back his laughter.
"It would be different if people were beating down the walls to get him," Shanahan said. "But they're not."
This is a game of chicken, NFL style.
We all know who's going to crack.
Sooner or later, AWOL Ashley will come crawling back.
Staff writer Mark Kiszla can be reached at 303-820-5438 or email@example.com.
07-07-2006, 12:48 AM
Sauerbrun fails test
Source: Broncos punter faces suspension for use of ephedra
By Bill Williamson
Denver Post Staff Writer
Sauerbrun has had several troubling incidents in his career. (Post file)
Broncos punter Todd Sauerbrun recently tested positive for the supplement ephedra and will be suspended for four games, a source close to the situation confirmed Thursday.
The suspension would be served in the first four regular-season games, if appeals don't cause a delay.
Before joining the Broncos in May 2005, Sauerbrun had had his troubles. He was implicated in a Carolina Panthers' steroid scandal and was arrested in December 2004 for drunken driving.
NFL spokesman Steve Alic said Thursday night the league had "no news to report" regarding Sauerbrun.
The Broncos, through a team spokesman, had no comment Thursday evening, per team policy regarding suspensions that are not confirmed by the league. The story was first reported by the website profootballtalk.com after the Broncos' minicamp Thursday.
Ephedra was banned in the fall of 2001 after the death of Minnesota tackle Korey Stringer. The substance, used as a dietary supplement and known for dehydrating the body, was found in Stringer's training camp locker after he died from heatstroke Aug. 1, 2001.
In accordance with NFL policy, first-time positive tests for ephedra result in an automatic four-game suspension.
Sauerbrun was at Denver's minicamp Thursday. He is expected to participate today and Saturday.
If suspended, Sauerbrun could participate in training camp, which begins July 28, but must leave the team during the suspension time. The Broncos open the season Sept. 10 at St. Louis, so any suspension would likely start on Monday, Sept. 4.
Sauerbrun would be able to return to the Broncos Oct. 10 when the team begins to prepare for its fifth game, which is Oct. 15 against Oakland.
Players who are suspended for drug or alcohol policy infractions can continue to work out at team facilities, but players suspended for using banned supplements cannot.
Sauerbrun was one of three Panthers players named
in an investigation of a South Carolina physician accused of writing illegal prescriptions for steroids.
According to a "60 Minutes" report aired in March 2005, Sauerbrun filled prescriptions for a testosterone cream during the 2003 season. The CBS report also said Sauerbrun obtained syringes and the injectable steroid stanozolol. He was not implicated in any lawsuit or disciplined by the league.
After his DUI arrest, Sauerbrun eventually pleaded guilty to driving while impaired during a May 2005 hearing and was fined $100 and placed on a year's unsupervised probation. Charges of speeding and driving while his license was revoked were dismissed.
Denver could sign a veteran punter to compete in training camp if Sauerbrun were suspended. Available punters include Micah Knorr, Kyle Richardson and Mark Royals.
Knorr was cut by Denver in the 2004 season. Second-year Bronco Paul Ernster, who was on the practice squad when he suffered a torn right ACL last September, could start. Youngsters Jeff Williams and Tyler Fredrickson will also be in camp.
Sauerbrun has stayed out of trouble since coming to Denver and is popular in the locker room. He averaged 43.8 yards per punt this season.
Staff writer Bill Williamson can be reached at 303-820-5450 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
07-07-2006, 12:50 AM
Time to pass muster
Cutler knows what's expected of him as a Broncos quarterback
Evan Semon © News
By Jeff Legwold, Rocky Mountain News
July 7, 2006
ENGLEWOOD - Jay Cutler, welcome to the deep end of the NFL pool.
"Oh, I think I understand, I know Denver is just crazy about quarterbacks," Cutler said. "With John (Elway) setting the bar so high, people expect huge things from the quarterback, they expect a huge leader, they expect the Super Bowl every year.
"I knew getting into it how it was going to be."
And how it's going to be for the linchpin of the Broncos' 2006 draft class.
It's an almost constant churn as Broncos fans wonder when exactly the guy coach Mike Shanahan has called "a potentially special player" will be ready to play.
Even Thursday, the first day of a three-day minicamp that essentially will wrap up the Broncos' offseason when it concludes Saturday, Cutler was asked four times by those holding the cameras and notepads when he expects to be the team's starter.
That's five weeks before he will even play in his first professional preseason game.
"I know I'm going to be asked that every day until I am playing," Cutler said. "That's OK, I know that's the expectation when you get drafted high in the first round as a quarterback."
Having walked the hallways of Vanderbilt University for the previous four years, Cutler also seems to understand his share of NFL geography - that the combination of the words "quarterback" and "Broncos" in the same sentence brings the kind of scrutiny many believe is difficult to find elsewhere in the league.
All he has to do is ask the team's assistant head coach, Mike Heimerdinger. Heimerdinger, who has been with former Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair during an MVP season and the Jets' Chad Pennington in New York's media frenzy, believes Denver might be an even bigger swirl when it comes to the player behind center.
"I think being a quarterback anywhere in the NFL is hard," Heimer-dinger said. "But this is a special place. They treat their quarterbacks differently here than anywhere else. I told him when he came into town, 'It's going to be different than anything you're used to. It's a fishbowl.'
"Steve didn't have that kind of scrutiny in Nashville. Even when he won the MVP, he could go places, do things and people wouldn't follow him. In New York, Chad could get away a little bit, he could hide some. Here, I think it may be a little harder to adjust off the field than on it, and I'm not sure it's that way for young quarterbacks other places."
Cutler, the reason the Broncos moved up to the No. 11 spot in the first round of the draft, already has shown he's adept at dealing with what is only the beginning of the ebb and flow of his NFL career.
With Jake Plummer, who is set to enter his 10th season, coming off his most consistent year as a professional and the Broncos coming off an AFC Championship Game appearance, the professed expectation so far is Cutler is not on schedule to play any time soon.
Asked how Cutler looked, Shanahan said, tongue firmly in cheek, "All-Pro, first team."
But that also will leave Cutler, and Plummer to a certain extent, plenty of opportunity, especially with a touchdown pass or two in the preseason by the rookie, to discuss over and over when Cutler might expect to play.
"Jake's a good guy, he's helped me out a lot," Cutler said. "Jake's got to take care of his stuff on the field, but when he gets time, he gives me some little tidbits, and during meetings, he explains stuff really well. He's been professional about the whole situation. . . .
"But everybody here is a competitor, everybody wants to play. Everyone wants to be in the NFL. I'm here to be a starting quarterback, whether it's a close future or a couple years down the road.
"But I'm going to keep competing out here the best I can, and everything is going to fall into place as it will."
For now, however, Cutler simply is the No. 3 quarterback, one who finds himself behind Plummer and Bradlee Van Pelt on the depth chart.
One trying to adjust to starting a football career as well as living in the city in which he's trying to do it.
"It all goes hand in hand," Shanahan said. "On the field, you're always proving what you can do. When
you're off the field, it's not like that, but it's a big part of the job. Football is the focal point here, and when football is the focal point, you're going to talk about the quarterback - that's just the way the NFL works. If you can't handle it, and a lot of people can't, it's going to be tough on you and you won't be the guy anyway."
Added Cutler: "I understand that. And I guess that's the first step of it all. I'll compete every day, learn as much as I can and go from there."
Broncos quarterbacks in 2005
Player Comp. Att. Pct. Yards TDs INTs
Jake Plummer 277 456 60.7 3,366 18 7
Bradlee Van Pelt 2 8 25.0 7 0 0
legwoldj@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-892-2359
07-07-2006, 12:51 AM
No walker for Walker in running routes
Evan Semon © News
By Lee Rasizer, Rocky Mountain News
July 7, 2006
ENGLEWOOD - Pleased with the progress of his surgically repaired right knee, Javon Walker was unexpectedly given medical clearance to run routes in individual and team drills Thursday at the Broncos' minicamp.
Walker, a former Pro Bowl player obtained in April for a second-round draft pick, did not go one on one against defenders. But his participation, even in a reduced capacity, is the clearest sign yet his rehabilitation from a torn anterior cruciate ligament is on target.
The receiver said there are some plants he has yet to make on his leg that he'll need to make in the coming weeks but that he's feeling mentally strong.
"This is the first step in getting my confidence back," he said. "Obviously, I've never had the injury. But running and cutting and not even thinking about it is a step to really being ready for training camp."
Walker plans to keep a similar workload for the next two days. Then he'll continue strengthening exercises and running routes in an effort to be "full go" in pads by two-a-days. As Walker previously had promised, he wasn't wearing a knee brace.
"I still have another gear that I can get to, but as long as I'm still keeping up pace and running the same speed as everybody else and still having the same timing with the quarterbacks" as other receivers, he's satisfied for now, Walker said.
A much smaller concern is working his way back up the depth chart after all his time off the field. Rod Smith and Darius Watts were the first pairing Thursday, followed by David Terrell and Charlie Adams and Walker-David Kircus.
"Maybe they might play me. I'm not sure," Walker joked of the task at hand. "I might be on the practice squad."
GO ROUTE: As expected, Ashley Lelie was the Broncos' only no-show, and coach Mike Shanahan said "of course" the receiver will be fined.
The collective-bargaining agreement allows the team to assess an $11,641 penalty.
Shanahan said he believes Lelie is receiving "some bad advice" and the player's wish to be traded "would be different if people were beating down the walls to get him."
"But they're not," he added.
Shanahan wouldn't rule out the possibility of Lelie returning, but he hasn't spoken with the receiver recently "because he won't return my phone calls."
Lelie doesn't believe that, with Smith's presence and the acquisition of Walker for a second-round 2 pick, he'll be afforded a fair opportunity to compete and that he has too much pride and ability to settle for being a third receiving option.
MIXING IT UP: The coaches continue to experiment with personnel combinations.
One of the more intriguing experiments was with the front four in the nickel, an area where the Broncos are attempting to improve on last season's 28th-place tie in sacks.
Corey Jackson, a practice-squad player last season who has drawn kudos during the offseason from the Broncos brain trust, was a starter on the outside, with free-agent signee Kenard Lang.
Rookie Elvis Dumervil, primarily a college end, joined Gerard Warren at defensive tackle.
"When you see that group, it's definitely speed out there," Jackson said. "And that puts pressure on O-linemen, on the quarterback and the offensive coordinator.
"A lineup like that is hard to defend."
It's also not cast in stone.
Ebenezer Ekuban, one of the team's leading pass rushers last season with four sacks, was aligned as a reserve tackle at minicamp but still figures to be in the mix at defensive end in passing situations, along with Dumervil, when training camp opens July 28.
ETC.: Former Colorado State player Cecil Sapp apparently has worked his way into the mix as a candidate to start at fullback, taking first-team repetitions over Kyle Johnson . . . Amon Gordon, who could be part of the four-man defensive-tackle rotation, participated in his first full practice since August with the Cleveland Browns. Gordon has been recovering from microfracture surgery on his left knee and participated only sporadically during organized team activities the past two months. "It's definitely a big steppingstone," he said . . . Rookie receiver Domenik Hixon (left foot) was a limited participant.
07-07-2006, 01:30 AM
Lots of great stuff. Looks like the media was just as antsy (sp) as we've been.
Things that stood out.
-Cecli Sapp over Kyle Johnson. I think Sapp could be very good. He was a monster on special teams last year.
-Walker right on schedule is a good sign.
-Elvis Dumervil and Corey freaking Jackson!?! If Corey Jackson works out...I don't know what I'll do. That's so hilariously ridiculous... I just don't know. Elvis sounds like he could be a slam dunk.
-The WR depth chart right now: Smith, Watts, Terrell, Adams, Kircus. Great to see Terrell and Watts up there. Devoe is still not making any noise right now. He was a ST monster, but he might never make the leap.