|08-30-2007, 04:43 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2006
Edginess as Broncos' final cutting nears, Smith "Hell no. I was scared as hell.
Smith recalls how his career track took detour in 1994
ENGLEWOOD - The pages of Broncos football history have Rod Smith's name all over them.
Career leader in receptions, receiving yards, touchdowns, two Super Bowl rings - those are just a few of the lines.
Oh, and one more thing: He might be the only player released while riding a stationary bike.
"How about that, I got cut riding a bike," Smith recalled of August 1994 while pointing toward the team's former weight room, now a cafeteria. "I know what people go through this time of year, man. I got cut riding the bike.
"(Current Broncos coordinator of pro scouting Chris) Trulove came walking in and told me Bob Ferguson wanted to see me, and I knew I was cut. I'll never forget that. I can still hear it."
And as calendar page flips from August to September, that is the NFL. Rosters leaguewide must be to 53 players by 4 p.m. Saturday.
So while Broncos starters will see the field only from beneath baseball caps, it makes the game tonight against the Arizona Cardinals (7, CBS 4) the last chance for some of the others on the sideline. There will be no more practices, no more games to make their case.
"There are a number of players that are extremely close . . . ," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "We're trying to decide at a few spots on the roster between a number of guys, and this is their last chance. . . .
"This is a dream for a lot of guys, and to tell them it might not work out here is a tough thing."
But it can be difficult for those who believe they are fighting for those last roster spots, to remain composed enough to effectively compete for those jobs, to fully show what they can do.
After months of videotaped practices, offseason workouts and three preseason games, nerves now can be as big an opponent as anything for some in a Broncos uniform tonight.
"It's actually kind of hard to relax because your whole entire livelihood is flashing before your eyes," Smith said. "But you have to deal with that, and it takes special people to deal with that, and that is what they want to see.
"Coaches want to see how you handle adversity - there is a lot of pressure and they're adding pressure to it. So I just tell guys to control what you can control, go out and do what you've done your whole life for free and enjoy it. Regardless of the moment, whether it's the beginning of something big or the end of something big."
Asked if he followed that kind of advice in 1994 when he faced the prospect of a shrinking roster heading toward the regular season, Smith said: "Hell no. I was scared as hell. I didn't follow any advice the whole time, that's why I can give the advice now."
Despite being cut, Smith was signed to the Broncos' practice squad Aug. 30, 1994 - 13 years ago today - and has been with the team since.
Receiver Brian Clark, who was signed as an undrafted rookie after the 2006 draft, spent part of last season on the team's practice squad before being signed to the active roster in October.
He said he spent cut day in 2006 at the Broncos' facility, working out, hoping to make it last.
"I'll probably do it again," Clark said. "But last year I figured, I'm accessible to them, they can see me, if they want me, I'm right here working out and maybe if they wanted to cut me, they look out the window and see me working out and say, 'Maybe not, let's not cut this guy.' "
For the Broncos, questions remain at a smattering of spots on special teams, while there is a crowd of players on the defensive line to be whittled, even after the trade of Gerard Warren and the release this week of Kenard Lang and Demetrin Veal.
And at running back, where Selvin Young made a significant push Saturday night with 91 yards on 17 carries, things are getting crowded as well.
It seems unlikely Young, Cecil Sapp and Mike Bell could make the roster, in addition to two fullbacks - Paul Smith and Kyle Johnson - who are playing a lot of special teams as part of their roster push.
"But this is your interview, you've got to give your best," Clark said. "I wasn't really nervous; because of my faith, I really felt solid I would be OK whether it be football or not in football. But you want to be here, so there's always some anxiety."
"I tell guys all the time, you have to remember there are 31 other teams," Smith said. "Put something on tape to impress somebody else. It doesn't matter how you get in the league, just get in. It might not be in the uniform you wanted at first, but you'll get some cleats. Just get those cleats and play in whatever uniform you can get."
• The Broncos are expected to make the majority, if not all, of their final roster cuts Friday. Beginning Sunday, the team can sign an eight-player practice squad.
• The Broncos, who had some players in to their facility Wednesday for conditioning work - most of them won't play tonight - won't practice as a team again until Monday as they prepare for the regular-season opener against Buffalo.
• This will be the fourth consecutive year the Broncos have played the Cardinals in the preseason finale.
• The Cardinals appear to have replaced 2005 first-round pick Antrel Rolle in their lineup. First-year coach Ken Whisenhunt has named Roderick Hood at cornerback.
• Though the Cardinals' offensive starters are expected to play one or two series tonight, running back Edgerrin James is questionable because he has had a sore hamstring of late.
Cardinals at Broncos
• When: 7 tonight.
• Where: Invesco Field at Mile High.
• TV/radio: CBS 4; KOA-AM (850).
• Injuries: Guard Ben Hamilton (concussion) and tackle Adam Meadows (calf) will not play because of injuries. Had Hamilton been cleared, it's unlikely he would have played because the Broncos will hold out all offensive and defensive starters.
|08-30-2007, 09:50 AM||#2|
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Wow, that's crazy about Antrell Rolle. Yet another possible first round bust for the Cardinals......
And has anyone heard when Hamilton may be cleared to play? Concussions are a b****. If he isn't cleared by opening day I wonder if we put him on the PUP to make sure he's ready by week six.
|08-30-2007, 10:20 AM||#3|
Broncos Fan in Florida
Join Date: Jul 2006