|08-29-2005, 01:19 AM||#1|
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Arcadia, CA
Denver's starters look ready for season
Denver's starters look ready for season
Performance by first team big part of 3-0 preseason
By Mike Klis
Denver Post Staff Writer
Veteran defensive end Trevor Pryce, coming off a back injury that kept him sidelined most of last season, has shown the Broncos in the preseason that he still is an effective pass rusher. (Post / John Leyba)
Excitement is building and skins are bursting, all because the first team is rolling.
Is it time to start the NFL season yet?
The final preseason test remaining for the Broncos is patience. Not only are the Broncos' 3-0 in the exhibition season, but their latest win, 37-24, came against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, who have inflicted season-ending embarrassment upon Denver.
"It was a difficult mind-set for (Saturday's) game, because this was the team that sent us home the last two years," Broncos safety John Lynch said. "In the same token, it's the third preseason game and everything needs to be working towards the regular season. So we didn't lose that perspective. But we did study these guys."
Further validating the Broncos' preseason success is only some, but not most, of the credit goes to players who won't be here next week. In each of the wins against Houston, San Francisco and the Colts, it was clear the Broncos' first team had outplayed the other guys' starters.
To date, the preseason could not have gone much better for quarterback Jake Plummer, running back Mike Anderson, wide receiver Ashley Lelie, the offensive line and defensive end Trevor Pryce. Those players have reached their final date of the preseason. Except for this week's practices at Dove Valley, they're done. While the second- and third-teamers prepare for the final preseason game Friday night against the Arizona Cardinals in Tempe, Ariz., the starters can put away their thigh pads and wait for Miami, site of the regular-season opener Sept. 11.
With apologies to the 20-odd players remaining on the roster bubble following Sunday's cuts, the overwhelming sense in Broncoland is hurry up and get that Arizona preseason game out of the way. Bring on the Dolphins.
"I think we did pretty good, but again, it is the preseason, win, lose or draw," Pryce said. "To me all that matters is Miami."
Not everything in the Broncos' preseason has been as perfect as their record. Star cornerback Champ Bailey (strained hamstring) has not seen the field, though he may start at Miami. Star wideout Jerry Rice barely has played, leaving unanswered the questions regarding his 42-year-old legs. And third- round pick Maurice Clarett was told Sunday he would be cut.
But in the context that even the defending NFL champion New England
Patriots have issues, Denver can't complain.
Here are some reasons there is hope this preseason could transfer into something more special than a 10-6, wild-card regular season:
* Plummer: Last preseason, the Denver quarterback threw four interceptions and no touchdown passes. This time, he threw three touchdown passes and no interceptions. Coach Mike Shanahan has stated his lofty expectations of Plummer, entering his ninth season in the NFL and third with the Broncos.
"I would be surprised if Jake is not only a good player this year, but a great player," Shanahan said last week.
* Anderson: His preseason ended last year with a season- ending groin injury. His preseason ended this year with 198 yards on 18 carries (11-yard average) in his past two games. As he approaches his 32nd birthday next month, Anderson may not make people forget Clinton Portis, but he may help people remember the Mike Anderson of five years ago, when he rushed for 1,487 yards as a rookie.
* Lelie: Even with an extra preseason game in 2004, he had just two catches for 23 yards, but had 54 receptions in the regular season for an NFL-best 20.1-yard average. This preseason, the fourth-year pro has six catches for 134 yards (22.3 average).
"We really thought he could take his game to a different level," Shanahan said. "He has become more consistent. He's not there, yet, by any means, but he's fighting for the ball."
* Pryce: He had two sacks last preseason but brought back pain into the regular-season opener against Kansas City, pain so acute that he essentially missed the rest of the season. Pryce has two sacks again this preseason, but this time he enters the regular season healthy.
Mike Klis can be reached at 303-820-5440 or email@example.com.
|08-29-2005, 01:29 AM||#2|
Persona Non Grata
Join Date: Jan 2003
|08-29-2005, 01:34 AM||#3|
Draft Defense Early&Often
Join Date: Oct 2004
|08-29-2005, 01:47 AM||#4|
Attack at all times . . .
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: AFC West Championshipville
Denver's starters do look like they can put together a Div Title. That's the minimum expected, though. The team has to recognize that and not freeze up when that thought crosses their minds. And it looks like to me this team has enough confidence to not freeze up when opportunity is knocking at the door.