|11-12-2007, 07:35 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2006
Shanahan tweaks Broncos' starting defense
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Benching safety Nick Ferguson on Sunday was the second major personnel change for the struggling Denver Broncos defense in the past week.
On Friday, end Simeon Rice was released. Then Ferguson was demoted in favor of Hamza Abdullah. Abdullah played in passing situations last week against Detroit but played the entire game against Kansas City. Ferguson has started 44 games for Denver since joining the team in 2003.
Coach Mike Shanahan said he made the move because he thought the Chiefs would throw the ball a lot and Abdullah is better against the pass.
“Hamza gives us a little bit more range,” Shanahan said.
Ferguson declined comment afterward. Ferguson didn’t play on defense even though John Lynch, who is recovering from a pinched nerve in his neck, missed his second straight game. Domonique Foxworth started at safety with Abdullah.
Abdullah led the team with eight tackles.
Abdullah got his hands on Denver’s first two interceptions. He probably should have caught the first one but knocked it into the air and Karl Paymah caught it. In the third quarter, Abdullah responded quickly on an overthrown pass and tipped it in the air to cornerback Dre Bly. That set up a Broncos touchdown.
“Hopefully, I did all right,” Abdullah said.
Cutler limped off the field for a few plays late in the second quarter after taking a shot near the bruise on his lower leg. Cutler was knocked out of last week’s game because of that bruise. Patrick Ramsey came in for three plays before Cutler went back in.
“I had to come out for a little bit and after that it was a little sore,” Cutler said. “I knew it was going to be, but nothing dramatic.”
An ailing Jason Elam kicked a 50-yard field goal in the second quarter to give the Broncos a 6-5 lead.
During the kick’s journey, it drifted right. At first, it didn’t appear to have a chance.
“If it had been a 45-yard field goal, it would have been wide right,” Elam said.
At the last instant, wind caught the ball and pulled it toward the middle.
When Elam kicked the ball, he believed it would have no trouble clearing the crossbar.
“But it just died,” Elam said. “It just dropped on me.”
Elam hit the ball with just enough power. The kick hit the crossbar and bounced over.
On Thursday afternoon, Elam strained the calf on his kicking leg in a kickoff drill. He was hurting so much Friday morning, the Broncos considered using another placekicker for Sunday’s game.
But Elam was feeling better Sunday morning. He believed he would limit his kicking to short field goals because of his injury.
“I didn’t think we would try anything long,” Elam said laughing, “but it turns out we were just bombing away.”
He also made a 44-yard field goal in the first quarter.
Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist was thrilled by Air Force’s 41-24 victory over Notre Dame. Sundquist is a 1984 graduate of the academy, where he played fullback for coach Fisher DeBerry.
“Oh, I was real happy,” Sundquist said in the Broncos locker room.
“I think the coaches really enjoy going to work every day, and the fellas (Air Force players) are just feeding off that.”