|09-07-2007, 04:51 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2006
Henry ready to be prime-time player
Henry ready to be prime-time player
By Bill Williamson
Denver Post Staff Writer
Travis Henry stood at a podium as the Broncos introduced their latest tailback in March. Henry was smiling nonstop, repeatedly saying it had been a career-long dream to be the ball carrier in this system, behind this offensive line, in this uniform, in this city.
Henry got a little carried away. He said he had a goal in mind for this season, that he knew how many yards he could gain now that he would be spending time with the Ritz-Carlton of running teams.
How many, Travis? How many yards?
He gathered himself and said he would save the prediction for another day.
Henry, who will make his Broncos' debut Sunday at Buffalo, became more reticent as time passed. Early in training camp, when reminded of his proclamation, he vowed to provide his magic number after two preseason games. In the second preseason game at Dallas, Henry gave the Broncos a scare when he crumpled with a twisted knee. Because of that injury, he remained mum on his goal and was out of action for the final two preseason games.
"If I wasn't hurt, I'd say it, but I don't want to jinx it," Henry said at the time. "But it's going to be a lot. It's going to be good, man."
This week, Henry again declined to play prognosticator.
Asked whether he could hit the 1,500-yard rushing mark for the first time in a six-year career, Henry smiled.
"That might be it," he said. "That one sounds good to me."
That sounds good to the Broncos, too. Henry has brought the swagger back to the Denver running game after his stops with Buffalo and Tennessee.
The Broncos have a proven tailback again in Henry, whom the team expects to have the most impact at the position since Clinton Portis manned it in 2002 and 2003. After Portis was traded for Champ Bailey in 2004, the Broncos had a new leading rusher each season. Each of those players — Reuben Droughns, Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell — were traded or released the next season.
Even though each of those backs was productive, there was nothing special about the Denver running attack. Last season, the Broncos could not get the all-important yards inside opponents' 20-yard line or in the fourth quarter. If they had, they would have qualified for the playoffs. Finding a difference-making back was the top objective during the offseason.
The Broncos figured they had their man when Henry was cut by Tennessee in a salary cap move March 3. Within an hour of his release, Denver had set up a visit. Thirty-six hours later, Henry was a Bronco.
Henry, who has gained more than 1,000 yards in a season three times, has a habit to getting better as the game goes on. He also has the one-cut-and-go style the Broncos crave. Denver general manager Ted Sundquist said Henry will bring authority to Denver's running game.
Henry, 28, expects the Broncos to elevate him to elite running back status. He has memories of the Pro Bowl in 2002, but otherwise Henry has flown somewhat under the radar. He figures his natural ability and the Broncos' offensive line should put his name in lights.
Off the field, Henry has received attention because of a Georgia court case disclosing he has fathered nine children with nine women and has been ordered by various judges to pay child support for seven of them.
"A lot of stuff that's been put out there isn't true, but I'm not going to get into that," Henry told The Denver Post the day the case was reported late last month. "The important thing is I want to take care of my kids, really and truly. It's all good."
Since then, Henry has declined to speak about nonfootball issues, but has plenty to say about his new career stop.
"I love everything about this offense, especially with the line," Henry said. "I think every running back secretly wants to be a Bronco. I was no different."
When Sam Adams was considering teams to join after he was cut loose by Cincinnati, he liked what he saw when he examined the Broncos' roster.
"I thought the Broncos were loaded, and then I remembered that Travis had just signed there," said Adams, who was a teammate of Henry's in Buffalo. "That did it. Travis is an all-pro. He's totally underrated."
Like Adams, other former teammates of Henry speak highly of him.
"Travis does an awesome job of seeing the holes, and he is an awesome zone-blocking running back," said Tennessee center Kevin Mawae, who anchored a line that helped Henry rush for 1,211 yards last season. "He is going to fit in really well with what Denver does, with their traditional way of blocking on the offensive line. He is a guy that we never had to worry about. He was going to get the job done for you, whether it was running the ball or pass protecting."
Added Buffalo defensive end Aaron Schobel, who'll be in charge of chasing down Henry on Sunday: "He's strong. He's going to stiff-arm people, run people over. He does that on his own. With the scheme that they run, he's going to be even better. You've got to get a bunch of guys to him and wrap up."
Count on the Broncos offering a heavy dose of Henry in his Denver debut. The Bills had the 28th-ranked run defense last season, and Henry ran for 135 yards at Buffalo in his second-to-last game with the Titans.
Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler said the team plans to set up his passing with Henry's running.
"We're a run-first team," Cutler said.
Added receiver Javon Walker: "This offense just got a whole lot more dangerous with Travis Henry as the runner."
Whatever his goals, Henry seems confident in achieving them.
"You'll see, you'll see," he said, laughing. "I think everyone is going to be happy. It's going to be good, man."
|09-07-2007, 04:55 AM||#2|
Join Date: Apr 2006
RB Henry eager to make debut with Broncos against former team
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — There was a time not long ago when Travis Henry couldn't get out of Buffalo fast enough.
These days, the former Bills star can't wait to get back now that he's taken over the starting job in Denver.
"It's in my mind, but I'm not trying to get overexcited," said Henry, referring to the Broncos opening their regular season at the Bills on Sunday.
It won't be easy holding him back.
Two years since the Bills granted his trade demand, and after enjoying a comeback-of-the-year caliber season with Tennessee in 2006, Henry has landed squarely on his feet. This offseason, he joined the NFL's premier running back factory, a rush-happy Broncos team that's had four different players in four years enjoy 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
What better place than these familiar surroundings for Henry to make his debut - and a mere nine months since he had 135 yards rushing in the Titans' 30-29 victory at Buffalo.
"This year I'm pumped just to be a Bronco and to play our first game," Henry said. "I wanted a fresh start, and I did that. The rest is history."
If recent history is a gauge, Buffalo will have an even more difficult time containing Henry. The Bills' defense was porous last year, allowing 141 yards rushing a game, and doesn't look to be any stouter now.
It's a young unit that lost three veteran starters and will feature four regulars with less than two years NFL experience, including rookie middle linebacker Paul Posluszny taking over for London Fletcher, who's now with Washington.
Coach Dick Jauron has not been shy in raising red flags when discussing his expectations.
"I believe in our people, but that being said, I don't think there's anybody in this room that's not aware of how young this football team is," Jauron said. "We have a lot of questions to answer, there's no doubt about that."
The Bills might also have trouble defending the pass. Besides losing star cornerback Nate Clements to free agency, Buffalo has no experienced depth at defensive end behind starters Aaron Schobel and Chris Kelsay.
The ranks are depleted because Ryan Denney is out indefinitely with a broken foot, while Anthony Hargrove is serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
"It'll be a bit of a gut-check," said Schobel, who had a career-high 14 sacks last year. "It's going to be exciting and at the same time I'm going to be a little nervous. But I expect good things."
The Broncos have questions, too, and also are attempting to put aside a tragic offseason in which cornerback Darrent Williams was killed in a drive-by shooting on New Year's Day, then backup running back Damien Nash died two months later when he collapsed following a charity basketball game.
The Broncos will honor the players by wearing both of their numbers - 27 and 29 - on their uniforms this season.
"It's more embracing their memory and hopefully playing well so people can keep on talking about these guys that were so important to our family," coach Mike Shanahan said. "To lose them at the age of 24 is something you don't understand, but something that we're pushing through."
Denver is attempting to retool on the fly after a 9-7 finish, disappointing because the team missed the playoffs for the first time in four years.
Jay Cutler, the Broncos' 2006 first-round draft pick, is the quarterback after he went 2-3 while starting the final five games last season.
Henry should alleviate some of the load, and the Broncos hope newly signed tight end Daniel Graham will add another dimension to their passing game. It helps, too, that Cutler had a complete offseason to become acquainted with the offense.
Denver's defense is an unknown entering its first season under new coordinator Jim Bates. The line has been completely revamped, and will feature a late newcomer after the Broncos signed defensive end Simeon Rice this week.
Shanahan was uncertain if Rice would play against Buffalo.
One thing's certain, the Broncos defensive backfield is set, featuring All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey, who will be joined by Dre' Bly, acquired in a trade with Detroit. It's a tandem that should allow the Broncos to cheat against the run or in pressuring Bills quarterback J.P. Losman.
Losman shrugged off questions whether the Broncos' stellar defensive backfield will make him think twice about going to star receiver Lee Evans.
"If they want to play one-on-one with him, we are going to take our chances," Losman said. "That's how we all feel. We are very, very confident."
Last edited by dragondawg; 09-07-2007 at 05:13 AM..
|09-07-2007, 05:01 AM||#3|
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Agoura, California
ahhhhh..that got me sooo excited to watch this offense on sunday...I was about to go to sleep but I cant now im all hyped up. Hey dragondawg I also wanna say great job with all these articles u post it gives me something to do when i get bored late at night..Thanks man