|08-09-2007, 04:18 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2006
Depth of chart only goes so far
Depth of chart only goes so far
It's not set in stone, thankfully for Mike Bell, now third-string. And John Engelberger is a starter.
By Mike Klis
Denver Post Staff Writer
Football training camp can provoke bestial images of violent collisions, and the sweat and grime of two-a-day practices in late-summer heat.
The Broncos were a camp of contact and drudgery, and then they released their depth chart to start Week 2.
At first glance, depth charts are nothing more than names on paper. But to the players who carry those names, a mere glance can turn grunts into groans, pain into pleasure.
For Mike Bell and John Engelberger, their respective depth- chart placements this week became testaments of humility, perseverance and personal preference.
Bell, a running back, has enough personality to fill three locker rooms. Engelberger, a defensive end, possesses all the attention cravings of an anonymous ditch digger.
Each came about this year's depth charts from different directions.
At this point in Broncos' training camp last year, Bell had brought the NFL to its knees.
All this talk about how tough it is to make it in this league. How tough can it be when a guy needed just one week of training camp to go from obscure, undrafted rookie to No. 1 running back for arguably the league's most efficient running system of the past decade?
To his credit, Bell remained humble through his meteoric rise up the depth chart at one of football's most popular positions, often repeating how thankful he was to be living a dream come true.
"It was a good feeling," Bell said before he came up limping with a leg injury during practice Tuesday. "It was unexpected and a big-time compliment to me. For the coach to put that much on me that early, I was definitely on cloud nine."
Just in case Bell didn't truly believe how fortunate he was, though, the NFL regained its reputation as a cruel business by humbling him some more.
When the Broncos released their depth chart for the first time Monday, Bell was a third-stringer. He had not catapulted ahead of the likes of Ron Dayne and Tatum Bell, as he did to much fanfare last year, but remained stuck behind Travis Henry and Cecil Sapp.
A tough business? Sooner or later, everybody finds out.
"It's still the same for me," Bell said. "I'm still happy to be here and doing the same things I've always been doing - going out there and working hard, and as far as I'm concerned, no depth chart is set in stone."
Through experience, Engelberger would agree, if he were so inclined. Quietly, or at least to considerably less notice than the past media boycott of the Broncos' offensive line, Engelberger has not publicly commented since he was traded here from San Francisco before the 2005 season.
Which is too bad because he is a role model of intelligence and work ethic.
Having earned his college degree in interdisciplinary studies from Virginia Tech, Engelberger enjoys discussions on world topics, providing they're not offered for public consumption. Admittedly frightened of public speaking, Engelberger would rather accept a fine for not adhering to the NFL's new media policy than seeing his words quoted in a newspaper.
Besides, he has to work on his three-point stance. For someone other than Engelberger to be the first player on the field for the 8:30 a.m. practice, he had better get there well before 8 a.m. And even though he showed up as the starting left defensive end on the Broncos' base defense Monday, Engelberger was the last to leave the practice field Tuesday.
"He has a passion for the game," said Bill Johnson, the Broncos' defensive line coach. "One thing about him is, what you see is what you get."
See him, but don't hear him. A four-year starter in his five years with the San Francisco 49ers, Engelberger spent most of his first two years in Denver on the bench. And then, just as an offseason defensive line shopping spree of rookies and free-agent veterans further threatened his job security, Engelberger finally became a Broncos starter.
"On first and second down, he's as dependable and plays run technique as well as anybody," Johnson said.
Starting the first preseason game Monday night at San Francisco is one thing, but for the regular-season opener Sept. 9 at Buffalo, it was Bell who said it best (not that Engelberger was much competition).
"It can change," Bell said. "It can change tomorrow, it can change in three days. You never know what can happen. You have to be patient and you have to be hungry, and you have to persevere."