|02-16-2006, 10:46 AM||#1|
Never say Always
Join Date: Jan 2003
More Broncos reading to help pass the worthless minutes of off season.
Wide receiver Terrell Owens was in Denver on Monday along with agent Drew Rosenhaus as the two met with Broncos coach Mike Shanahan.
The Broncos are unable to comment on Owens because he is still under contract with the Eagles, who have given him permission to seek a trade. Owens is expected to be released before March 1, when he would be due a $7.5 million bonus from Philadelphia.
The Broncos are expected to be a leading candidate to be Owens' next team. One of Denver's main offseason goals is to acquire a big-play receiver, and Shanahan has a history of taking chances on players with shaky pasts.
—Mike Shanahan doesn't anticipate much turnover on the Denver Broncos' roster this offseason.
Shanahan made it clear he wasn't completely pleased with Denver falling one win short of the Super Bowl, especially losing the AFC Championship Game at home. But the Broncos finished 13-3, won the AFC West and a playoff game, and Shanahan acknowledged that there were positive steps.
"I feel very proud of our football team," Shanahan said. "Our guys played extremely hard throughout the whole year. I like the character of our team. It was fun to coach our team, from the beginning of year to the end of the year, because of the type of people we had."
The Broncos have a few key free agents. Center Tom Nalen has re-signed, but left tackle Matt Lepsis and defensive tackle Gerard Warren all could see the open market, but the Broncos want to re-sign all three. Shanahan said he was confident the team could get all three back.
Shanahan said his top offseason priority was re-signing the team's own free agents. That's a sign Shanahan thinks the team can come back and compete for a championship in 2006 with its core roster and some minor improvements.
"We'll do everything we can to keep our team intact," Shanahan said. "Hopefully we'll be able to do that and improve in the draft and free agency."
The Broncos could make a big splash in the offseason and pursue receiver Terrell Owens. The players in the locker room think the controversial Owens could be a good fit.
"He's a great player," Nalen said. "Any team would be happy to have him. I think he'd do well here. With this locker room, I think he would conform to our standards and fit in well here."
Shanahan wouldn't talk about Owens' situations specifically because he is under contract with the Eagles. Shanahan said when Owens was available a couple years ago by San Francisco, he told the 49ers he wasn't interested.
"I told them at that time it wasn't something I'd be interested in because I didn't like the way he handled himself," Shanahan said.
But this time around, although not speaking specifically about Owens, Shanahan let it be known that he wouldn't rule out revisiting the situation.
"I had a lot of guys come in here and I've talked to about the way we run our organization and if they'd like to be part of it, this is the way we do things," Shanahan said. "Whoever that guy might be in free agency, there's always a possibility if somebody handles himself the right way they could come into this organization but they're going to have to live by the standard we practice."
With or without Owens, the Broncos feel pretty good about their chances of coming back next season and making another long run in the playoffs.
"We have the players, we just had a bad day," Nalen said of the team's AFC Championship Game loss. "If we'd have performed like we thought we were going to, we'd be there. So I don't think any major changes are in store. This team can get there."
—Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said he wasn't concerned about Mike Anderson's age. Anderson will be 33 years old next September. But Shanahan wouldn't guarantee Anderson will be the starter in 2006.
"If he's productive, he'll play," Shanahan said about Anderson. "If not, then he'll play in a backup role."
Tatum Bell could compete for a starting spot. The Broncos also might look at the draft or free agency to bolster depth at tailback.
—Shanahan defended a couple of his coaching decisions in the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship Game. Denver was down by 10 points with a little more than six minutes remaining but didn't go to the no-huddle offense. Shanahan said he thought the team had enough time to score 10 points, but couldn't afford a costly mistake because of haste.
But on fourth-and-10 with 5:02 remaining, Shanahan knew there wasn't enough time left to punt and hopefully stop the Steelers, who usually run the ball very well. The Broncos went for it, quarterback Jake Plummer was sacked and lost a fumble.
"If I had not gone for it on fourth down, I would have been haunted by that decision the rest of my life," Shanahan said. "Could we have made it if we had gone for it on fourth down to win the game instead of giving them an opportunity to run three plays and get the ball back with two minutes left?"
—Tight end Wesley Duke was the most interesting name on the list of players the Broncos will send to NFL Europe. Duke made plenty of strides his rookie season and started the AFC Championship Game. Duke played college basketball, not football, and has a lot of athletic talent.
The Broncos will also send receiver Bill Flowers, punter/kicker Tyler Fredrickson, offensive linemen Rob Hunt and Erik Pears, cornerback Antwaun Rogers and defensive lineman Patrice Majondo-Mwamba to NFL Europe.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think he'll do a fantastic job. Even though it's tough to lose a good friend and a guy that's very productive, I'm really excited for him and his family." — Broncos coach Mike Shanahan on longtime offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, who will be the head coach of the Texans next season.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
—C Tom Nalen has been re-signed to a three-year, $9 million contract with a $3 million signing bonus.
—The Broncos shouldn't have much of a transition period adjusting to a new offensive coordinator. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan hired former Denver assistant Mike Heimerdinger as the team's assistant head coach and promoted offensive line coach Rick Dennison to replace Gary Kubiak, who became the Houston Texans' new head coach last week, as offensive coordinator.
Heimerdinger was Denver's receivers coach from 1995-99 and has been an NFL offensive coordinator the past six seasons. Heimerdinger will probably have a large say in the offense, considering his background. He also is a close friend of Shanahan's, going back to their days as college teammates at Eastern Illinois University.
Dennison has been a Broncos assistant since 1997. He has been offensive line coach since 2001, overseeing one of the best units in the NFL.
QUARTERBACK: Starter — Jake Plummer. Backup — Bradlee Van Pelt.
Plummer will probably never be able to completely rid himself of the criticism that has followed him in his career. After a very good season, he had four turnovers in the AFC Championship Game and fans started grumbling again. Plummer isn't one of the very elite quarterbacks in the game but he is better than many fans give him credit for. He can make plays on the move and showed many times in 2005 that he can manage a game well. Mike Shanahan and offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak deserve credit for breaking Plummer of many bad habits that he had in Arizona and resurfaced in 2004. Plummer has now led Denver to three straight 10-win seasons and playoff berths. Kubiak, who was instrumental in Plummer's development the past three years, is off to coach Houston and Plummer might miss him. Van Pelt has great athletic ability. He isn't a polished passer but the offense usually moves when he is in the game. The Broncos want him to continue to improve and become a reliable backup if Plummer gets hurt.
RUNNING BACK: Starter — RB Mike Anderson, FB Kyle Johnson. Backups — RB Tatum Bell, RB Ron Dayne, FB Cecil Sapp.
Anderson had a solid season, but he isn't guaranteed to be the starter next season. He will be 33 years old in September. In a perfect world the Broncos would like a franchise back who can carry the ball 25 times a game. Those aren't easy to find, however, but the Broncos might look in the draft or free agency. Bell could be that back but he needs to get a bit more consistent and also do some little things better like receiving and blocking. Dayne is a free agent but the Broncos want him back. He fits Denver's style very well and could have a big season if given the chance. Johnson is a solid fullback who catches the ball well. Sapp is a jack of all trades who is a good special teams player.
TIGHT END: Starter — Stephen Alexander. Backups — Jeb Putzier, Wesley Duke, Nate Jackson.
Alexander was the starter all season because he is better in the running game than Putzier. Putzier is a very good receiver and if he could become a bit better on running downs he could be one of the best tight ends in the NFL. Duke is a very interesting player. He played college basketball but has natural skills and a great build for the position. He will go to NFL Europe and could be a breakout player in 2006.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters — Rod Smith, Ashley Lelie. Backups — Charlie Adams, David Terrell, Todd Devoe, Darius Watts.
Smith had a fantastic season. He was consistent all season and made the Pro Bowl. Lelie started to make some underneath catches at the end of the season, but he might never become more than a dangerous deep threat. Adams is solid but not spectacular. The player to watch for next season is Terrell. He's a former high draft pick who will get every chance to play. The Broncos continue to publicly support Watts, a 2004 second-round pick who fell out of favor and wasn't active for the final three months of the season. Watts needs to improve a lot in the offseason on his consistency and hands, or he might not be with the team next season.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Starters — LT Matt Lepsis, LG Ben Hamilton, C Tom Nalen, RG Cooper Carlisle, RT George Foster. Backups — G Taylor Whitley, T Cornell Green, G/C Chris Myers. Returning injured backups — G Dwayne Carswell, G/T P.J. Alexander.
The Broncos want to re-sign free agents Nalen and Lepsis. If Nalen leaves, Hamilton would move over to center and the Broncos would have to find a new left guard. Replacing Lepsis would be very difficult. He has had two good seasons since making the transition from right tackle to left tackle. Green could be the successor if nobody else is found. The line played well once again. Foster had some struggles but the rest of the unit clicked. There isn't much depth. Carswell was involved in a car accident during the season and had surgery for major internal injuries, but wants to come back next season.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Starters — SDE Courtney Brown, DT Gerard Warren, DT Michael Myers, WDE Trevor Pryce. Backups — DE Marco Coleman, DE Ebenezer Ekuban, DT Monsanto Pope, DT Demetrin Veal, DE John Engelberger.
The Broncos' line played much better than most people expected after four linemen were acquired from the Browns last offseason. But Warren had a very good season, Brown stayed healthy, Myers was a constant in the middle and Ekuban was valuable off the bench. The unit also got a big boost when Pryce came back from a back injury that limited him for most of 2004. Warren is a free agent and the Broncos want him back, but he could get a very nice deal on the open market. Brown has an option bonus that will be due and there's no guarantee he'll be back either. There isn't much young talent waiting in the wings.
LINEBACKERS: Starters — OLB Ian Gold, MLB Al Wilson, OLB D.J. Williams. Backups — MLB Keith Burns, MLB Patrick Chukwurah, OLB Louis Green.
The Broncos have one of the best linebacker trios in the NFL. Gold, who started his career in Denver, was a great addition after spending a season in Tampa Bay. Wilson had a very good season. He is the leader on the defense and he understands the game much better than he did early in his career. Williams was lost in the mix a little bit. He had a great rookie season but had his playing time cut in 2005 because Gold and Wilson were Denver's linebackers in the nickel defense. Burns came back after a season in Tampa Bay, like Gold, and he was Denver's best special teams player. Green is also a very valuable special teamer.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters — LCB Champ Bailey, SS Nick Ferguson, FS John Lynch, RCB Darrent Williams. Backups — CB Domonique Foxworth, CB Karl Paymah, CB Roc Alexander, S Hamza Abdullah, S Sam Brandon, S/CB Curome Cox. Injured returning backups — S Brandon Browner, CB Jeff Shoate, S Chris Young.
Bailey had a top-notch season, really turning it on after dealing with hamstring and shoulder injuries in the first half of the season. Lynch also had a good season and was being used in many different roles on defense, including sometimes lining up in a three-point stance to blitz the quarterback. Williams and Foxworth were rookies who had very impressive seasons. Foxworth was picked on in the AFC Championship Game but he should bounce back. Williams was hampered with a groin injury the last month of the season. Paymah was the third cornerback Denver drafted last April, and he developed slower than Williams and Foxworth. The team still thinks he can be a contributor. The team has done a good job building depth in the secondary, which was a problem the last couple years.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Starters — K Jason Elam, P Todd Sauerbrun, LS Mike Leach.
Elam and Sauerbrun could be the best punter-kicker combination in the NFL. Elam had a good season after a tough first half. Sauerbrun was a great addition from the Panthers last offseason. He didn't create any problems and punted very well. He also handled kickoffs. Leach is a solid long-snapper. Darrent Williams looks like he could be a good punt returner for many years.
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|02-16-2006, 11:00 AM||#3|
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
I wonder why we haven't re-worked a deal for Warren yet? There's no way we'd let that guy go... is there?
|02-16-2006, 11:31 AM||#4|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: South Carolina
|02-16-2006, 01:25 PM||#5|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Tampa Bay, FL
not Lance Ball
i think we are more focused on lepsis right now.....but the march deadline is fastly approaching (unless it gets extended because of cba negotiations)
i'm pretty sure warren wants to stay here......him & shanny may already have a pact we don't know about....