|12-19-2007, 11:43 AM||#1|
Join Date: Aug 2006
Inside Slant - Usa Today and our Gardes
The Broncos had little patience with punter Todd Sauerbrun, especially once their playoff hopes were finished.
The Broncos released Sauerbrun on Tuesday and signed Paul Ernster, who was their punter last year. Sauerbrun was cited for municipal ordinance violations of disturbing the peace, simple assault and failure to pay a cab fare after an alleged altercation with a cab driver two weeks ago.
Sauerbrun claimed last week that he was innocent.
"That's the bad part about it, no matter what happens with me, pretty much the damage is already out there, and that's what hurts," Sauerbrun said. "It's hurtful, especially when the person knows he's innocent."
The Broncos released Sauerbrun last season after he served a four-game suspension for a violation of the league's policy on steroids and banned substances. He said he tested positive for ephedra.
Sauerbrun signed with New England late last season, then an arbitrator ruled this offseason that Sauerbrun was an unrestricted free agent because the Patriots made a mistake on the paperwork on their right of first refusal. Ernster didn't have a great season in 2006 so the Broncos took Sauerbrun back.
The Broncos will get another look at Ernster, who played in one game for Cleveland this season. Ernster can also handle kickoffs, which the Broncos require from their punter.
The Broncos also put safety Nick Ferguson on injured reserve with a knee injury, promoted safety Roderick Rogers from the practice squad and cut safety Marviel Underwood.
The Broncos have always prided themselves on the running game, but this season it has been tough to predict what to expect from it.
A few days after Selvin Young led the way with more than 150 yards against Kansas City, the Broncos rushed for 72 yards as a team against Houston, which doesn't have a great run defense.
The Texans, on the other hand, rushed for 158 yards and won the game.
"Anytime that you can't run the football, and they were doing a pretty good job of running the football, it comes down to them getting the job done and us not," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said.
Travis Henry didn't start, but played more than Young. He had 34 yards on 10 carries. Young had 34 yards on eight carries. The Broncos haven't given up on Henry being an effective workhorse back for them, but he still seems like he isn't 100 percent after dealing with a knee injury for most of November.
The Broncos were thrown off when the Texans committed so many extra defenders to stopping the run.
"You put nine, 10 guys in the box, no one is going to be able to run the football," Young said.
The discrepancy between the two running games certainly showed as Denver's defense wore down in the second half.
"Anytime that you can't run the football and they were doing a pretty good job of running the football it comes down to them getting the job done and us not," Shanahan said. "They did a much better job of stopping the run than we did running it, but it hasn't been done many times this year."
Broncos coach Mike Shanahan was disappointed at his team's play, but congratulated Texans coach Gary Kubiak. Kubiak was Shanahan's offensive coordinator for 11 years.
"I just said 'Hey, great job, you had your team ready to play and you outplayed us and outcoached us," Shanahan said.
Tight end Daniel Graham hasn't caught many passes this year, but his worth was obvious when he left Denver's loss against Houston in the first half with an ankle injury. Without Graham, the Broncos' running game struggled.
"A guy like that where you can look at one side, whichever he's on, and understand it's going to be dominated," running back Selvin Young said. "We'd have loved to have him."
PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES
WR Brandon Stokley was inactive against Houston because of a knee injury. He should be back with a few extra days in between games, but his knee has been sore for a while.
LB Ian Gold injured his knee in the first quarter against Houston. Even if he misses a couple of weeks, that will mean he is done for the rest of the season.
LB Jamie Winborn replaced injured Ian Gold for most of the game against Houston. If Gold misses time it will give the Broncos a chance to take a long look at Winborn, who they just gave a contract extension to.
TE Daniel Graham sprained an ankle against Houston and missed most of the game. He was walking with a limp afterwards and said he didn't know if he would miss Denver's next game.
DE Elvis Dumervil was held without a sack against Houston. Although Dumervil has become a very good pass rusher for the Broncos this season, he is prone to some inconsistency. He had three sacks in Denver's previous game.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
REPORT CARD VS. TEXANS
PASSING OFFENSE: B Considering the Broncos had no running game to speak of, Jay Cutler did the best he could. He was sacked five times, but stood in when he had to drop back almost every play. He had 254 yards and his touchdown pass to tight end Tony Scheffler kept the Broncos in the game in the third quarter. Cutler didn't throw an interception but the Texans dropped a few chances.
RUSHING OFFENSE: D-minus The Texans took away the Broncos' running game early by putting extra defenders in the box. Then, without tight end Daniel Graham, the Broncos pretty much gave up the running game. Travis Henry got more playing time, even though he still seemed limited because of a knee injury, and had 27 yards on 10 carries. Selvin Young had 34 yards on eight carries, and 20 of his yards came on one carry.
PASS DEFENSE: C-minus Texans backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels had a solid day, passing for 200 yards. The Broncos seemed confused by Houston's bootleg plays, even though that is a staple of Denver's offense. Denver didn't sack Rosenfels once, which was another reason they gave up some big plays.
RUSH DEFENSE: F Houston had Darius Walker, a rookie, and Ron Dayne, who didn't figure to play because of an ankle injury. And yet, the Texans gained 158 yards. Walker averaged 5.1 yards per carry. Dayne didn't even play the first half because of his injury, but came in and gained 67 yards while averaging 6.1 yards per carry. The Broncos' rush defense has been bad most of the season, and the Texans loss was merely the latest episode.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C Andre Davis had a 50-yard kickoff return against Denver, which set up a field goal. That was on the only noteworthy play on special teams from either side. The Broncos did a fair job covering kicks other than Davis' long return, but couldn't produce any big plays themselves on special teams.
COACHING: D The Broncos had a short week, but it should have been a plus that they knew the Texans' offense so well. After all, Gary Kubiak was Denver's offensive coordinator for 11 years. But the Broncos were helpless against some of the same plays they see in practice every day, while the Texans seemed to know how to slow down Denver's offense. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan took blame for maybe working the players too hard in the short week, and admitted he was outcoached by his longtime assistant.