|11-01-2005, 01:19 AM||#1|
Never say Always
Join Date: Jan 2003
Devoe Love Train
All aboooooooooooooooard! This would be poetic if this was the next Rod Smith. He is arriving on a rougher road then even Rod had.
Monday, October 31, 2005 · Last updated 4:07 p.m. PT
Broncos' Devoe making plays that count
By EDDIE PELLS
AP SPORTS WRITER
DENVER -- He was a quiet player from a small school and he fit the profile of someone who might max out on a practice squad or in NFL Europe, but not with the big boys on Sundays.
The problem with that profile was that Denver receiver Todd Devoe had a knack for making big plays - in training camp, practices, preseason games.
Finally, he made a big play on a Sunday - with the game on the line - and now, everyone knows why the Broncos took a chance on the kid from Central Missouri State.
"It was all about patience," Devoe said after his 44-yard touchdown catch helped the Broncos stave off a Philadelphia comeback en route to a 49-21 win Sunday. "I just stayed patient along the route and it finally got me to where I am today."
Devoe's journey onto the Denver roster was never easy or preordained.
Signed first by Baltimore in 2003 as a rookie free agent, he spent his first two NFL seasons on three practice squads and one spring in NFL Europe, where he caught five touchdowns with the Cologne Centurions.
He signed with Denver over the summer, although it seemed unlikely anyone would ever get to know him well.
On a team with Rod Smith, Ashley Lelie and last year's second-round pick, Darius Watts - to say nothing of Jerry Rice - Devoe's name was easy to overlook, ninth and last on the depth chart, awkwardly jammed in on the right edge of the page below all the veterans, hangers-on from last year, free-agent rookies and the like.
But it seemed like every day, No. 14 was coming up with something noticeable - a nice block, a diving catch, a one-handed catch, a big run after a catch.
Early in camp, some of it was dismissed because, after all, those plays were coming against the third- and fourth-team defenses. And, as coach Mike Shanahan kept emphasizing when asked about Devoe time and again, the kid was still having trouble mastering the blocking and route-running details that help separate camp fodder players into those who make final NFL rosters.
Soon, though, Devoe started separating. In the preseason opener, he caught a 92-yard touchdown pass for the winning points in a 20-14 victory against Houston. There was also a 32-yard catch against San Francisco, a ball Devoe caught with one hand because the defender was holding his other arm.
He survived the first cut. Then, Rice retired. Then, the Broncos opted to keep Devoe on their final roster.
At the time, Shanahan conceded it was tough to use a roster spot on a developing player who was still rough around the edges.
But Devoe's practice-squad eligibility had been used up and Shanahan knew if he cut the promising receiver, he might end up elsewhere, hurting the Broncos somewhere down the road.
"He's the kind of guy who, if you let him go, and he gets picked up, he's got a chance that if he does make it, he can take it to the next level," Shanahan said during the summer.
The next level arrived Sunday against Philadelphia when he took a short slant on third-and-11, turned outside and ran untouched into the end zone. At the time, the Broncos had let a 28-0 lead dwindle to 28-21. They were facing third-and-11 when Devoe made his play.
Two moments set up the crucial touchdown. One came during practice last week, when offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak told Devoe that play would be available at some point in the game and he could very well score.
The next came earlier in the game when Devoe ran a route on third-and-11 too short and caught the ball, but for only nine yards. His teammates chastised him and challenged him to make up for it later.
"Of all people, Todd Devoe," Jake Plummer said. "People are probably wondering who Todd is, but we knew all along he's got a lot of skills and is a big, strong receiver."
Since making the roster, Devoe has moved past Watts into the No. 4 receiver position. On Sunday, he made his first career catch, then followed with four more, including the pivotal touchdown.
A rewarding day? Of course it was.
"I think about when I was in Baltimore, on the practice team," Devoe said. "I was there and week-in, week-out, I was just trying to learn and do something to that would help me stick around."