|09-04-2007, 11:59 PM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2006
Musical chairs in Broncos' backfield
By FRANK SCHWAB
ENGLEWOOD -- Travis Henry is still the Denver Broncos’ starting tailback, but almost everything else in the backfield has changed.
Cecil Sapp and Mike Bell competed to be Henry’s backup all offseason, but are now vying for the starting fullback job.
Kyle Johnson, who has been the team’s starting fullback since 2004 and assumed the role throughout the preseason, was released.
Selvin Young and Andre Hall were at the end of the depth chart to start training camp. Neither has played an NFL game, but they are Denver’s top backup tailbacks. Young appears to be the primary backup. The Broncos like Hall enough that when they had to cut a player Tuesday to make room for newly acquired defensive end Simeon Rice, they released linebacker Wesly Mallard instead of Hall.
The backfield changes were put into motion last week before the final preseason game, when Bell and Sapp split time at fullback. Despite inexperienced backup tailbacks and two fullbacks who were tailbacks until last week, running backs coach Bobby Turner said he isn’t worried.
“I have confidence in each one of those players,” Turner said.
If everything goes right for the Broncos, Henry will get almost every carry. Also, the Broncos use three receivers or two tight ends often so the fullback doesn’t play every down.
Turner said if something happens to Henry, the Broncos would evaluate their options at tailback. Sapp or Bell could make a quick transition back to tailback, but Denver also has confidence in Young.
Young wasn’t drafted. He started for Texas last year but split time, finishing with 137 carries and 591 yards. He led the Broncos with 167 rushing yards this preseason. Despite little experience, even in college, Turner pointed to the Broncos’ history of turning young, unheralded tailbacks into productive players.
“To a lot of people that would be a concern,” Turner said. “Would you like to have an eight-year veteran or 10-year veteran? Sure you would. But that doesn’t bother me.”
Young said he’ll be ready if something happens to Henry.
“When I do come in, I don’t want there to be no fallback or dropoff,” Young said.
The only natural fullback the Broncos have is Paul Smith, who was used primarily on special teams this preseason. Sapp moved from tailback to fullback late in 2005, then back to tailback this offseason. He has a little experience at the position.
Bell, who started three games and rushed for 677 yards as a rookie last year, slipped behind Sapp on the depth chart at tailback this offseason. Even though Shanahan admitted that Bell probably wasn’t thrilled to move to fullback, he thinks Bell can thrive.
“Mike’s got some size, got some running ability and he’s not afraid to block,” Shanahan said. “We feel like we have a good athlete that can do some things to help our football team.”
|09-05-2007, 12:19 AM||#3|
A verbis ad verbera
Join Date: Mar 2006
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