Archive for the ‘Curome Cox’ Category

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My thoughts on Denver’s MNF Skirmish

August 14, 2007

Things you wait eight months for can seem somewhat disappointing when they actually come around. Admittedly, I have been more involved this off-season than ever before. I started this blog, became active in several forums (I actually Mod over at TSZ), found several awesome Bronco blogs and generally spent hours each day researching all available info on my favorite NFL team.

With all that hype, I guess I should have been prepared for a little let-down after the first preseason game on Monday night. However, when the game was done I felt VERY down and out.

At first I thought that my post-game depression was due to the inevitable let-down after looking forward to something for so long. However, as I got up this morning I was still feeling rather icky about that game last night. Which makes me think that it has less to do with my emotional state, and much more to do with the performance of the team.

Now, I don’t want to say that there weren’t some very good moments last night! When we started the game with a 67 yard drive for an easy TD, I was whooping like a mad-man. Seeing Henry tear through defenders to find yardage was a beautiful thing.

But when our Broncos kick-off coverage allowed the 49ers to gain 31 yards on the following play I was fuming. As I’ve said over and over this off-season, our kick-off coverage was 31st in the league last year and Scott O’Brien was brought in to turn this around. I know this was only one play, but if first impressions really do count, I wasn’t impressed.

Then our 1st Team defense took the field, and it only took a few plays for my stomach to turn and my palms to start sweating. Our D-line seemed to have NO run stopping ability and the 49ers picked us apart with short-yardage passes that fell right between the LB’s and DB’s. Gains of 8,9,6 and 18 yards happened before we were able to get our first sack (thank you Engelberger) and force them to settle for three.

And that’s the way it seemed to go all night. We got an early lead and then let the 49ers take over in the time of possession and third down conversion battles. Yes, our 3rd and 4th stringer were good enough to prevent them from taking the lead back, but it was the sheer lack of stopping-power our Defense displayed that really caused my heart to sink.

Our Defense can not give up 144 yards on the ground and expect to win games. The 49ers gained a total of 386 yards to our 270 yards. The 49ers owned us in Time of Possession (by almost 10 minutes – that’s nearly a full quarter). They also converted WAY too many 3rd downs (7 of 16 while Denver was 3 of 9). We need to find a way to get our defense OFF THE FIELD!

The thing that shocked me the most was how eerily familiar this game was to our games last year. We only scored 17 points — that’s what we averaged under Jake Plummer in 2006. We won by holding on to a tiny lead. And the most scare fact is that our Defense looked just like the ‘bend-but-don’t-break’ system we seem to have fallen into each of the last few years.

Every year we have a DC that talks about how aggressive the new Defense is going to be, but then we get killed when our opponents begin tearing us up with those short passes. You can’t give away 5.2 yards per play and expect us to win 10-12 games.

Rationally, I do understand that our guys are still learning Bate’s new scheme. I know that there will be an adjustment period and that we still haven’t ironed out our starters along the D-line. I just hope that last night’s problem was the players’ learning curves rather than any inherent flaw in Bates’ system.
POSITIVE NOTE:

I was impressed with some of what I saw. On offense I loved seeing Henry and Cutler get to work. Walker made a nice catch and Hixon played bigger than his numbers show. I was also surprised by how well our O-line played considering the missing starters.

EDIT: You all need to check out BroncoTalk’s breakdown of that first Offensive drive. It’s great work by Kmonty (as always!): CHECK IT OUT!


On Defense I was impressed with Webster and Green at LB. Engelberger has many haters among the fans for some reason, but he played good ball on Monday. Dumervil also had a good night. But I loved what I saw from our Safeties; and not just our starters – but Abdullah, Cargile, Cox and (of course) Foxworth. Of the rookies, Crowder seemed to be the most active.

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TRAINING CAMP: DAY 4

August 1, 2007

NOTES AND NEWS FROM DAY FOUR OF TRAINING CAMP:

Day four and away we go!

If the biggest news yesterday was Domenik Hixon’s shoulder injury, the top story today should have been his return to the practice field.

However, Javon Walker broke his silence today and spoke to a throng of eager reporters after the morning practice. Much to their chagrin, he didn’t discuss the Jan. 1st death of Darrent Williams. But that didn’t stop every sports media outlet from leading with the story “Walker still silent on slain teammate” — way to respect the man’s emotional recovery dill weeds!

In ACTUAL football news, Ian Gold made it back into the line up and Domenik Hixon muscled through his shoulder pain to complete the morning practice. Brandon Marshall, however, sat out again. Shanahan noted that and made some pointed comments about the importance of beating the injury bug and getting out on the field.

“When guys get hurt, it really hurts their chances of making the team. For a guy like Domenik to come in after a first-degree shoulder separation is pretty impressive. He worked through it, and that is what you are hoping a guy is going to do.”

“A guy that keeps getting hurt, we can’t waste repetition on a guy that’s not out there. We have to have guys who can stay healthy.”

— Mike Shanahan 8/1/07

And if Shanahan wasn’t blunt enough, Ted Sundquist also commented on Brandon Marshall today.

“We’re counting on Brandon. We put a lot of time and effort into coaching him, getting him ready, but ultimately on a Mike Shanahan team you’ve got to go out on the field and perform”

— Ted Sundquist 8/1/07

Brandon Marshall needs to get his butt in gear, deal with a little pain and get out on that darn practice field — SOON.

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ATTENDANCE:

WR Marquay McDaniel was held out with a hamstring injury. Kenard Lang and Chad Mustard did not participate and Glenn Martinez was sidelined during the morning practice with a strained leg muscle.

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OFFENSIVE LINE UPS: WEDNESDAY

den-logo.jpg Wide Outs:
Walker and Brandon Stokley ran with the 1st Team.

den-logo.jpg Tight Ends:
No real change from the last few days.
den-logo.jpg Running Backs:
Again, no change. Travis Henry with Cecil Sapp running second. Mike Bell, Andre Hall and Young following behind.

den-logo.jpg O-line:
* 1st Team O-line was unchanged: LT Matt Lepsis, LG Ben Hamilton, C Tom Nalen, RG Chris Kuper and RT Erik Pears.

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DEFENSIVE LINE UPS: WEDNESDAY

den-logo.jpg D-line:
* 1st Team D-line stayed the same as the last couple of days: DE’s Ebenezer Ekuban and John Engelberger, DT’s Gerard Warren and Sam Adams, but Jimmy Kennedy replaced Adams for some reps this morning.

DIME PACKAGE NOTE: Unchanged from yesterday: Ekuban and Warren were the tackles with ends Jarvis Moss and Elvis Dumervil.

den-logo.jpg Linebackers:
* 1st Team LB’s were: Nate Webster took his turn at SAM today, D.J. Williams still impressing at MIKE and Ian Gold back at WILL.

den-logo.jpg Secondary:
No changes here as CB’s Champ Bailey and Dre’ Bly and Safeties Nick Ferguson and John Lynch played on the 1st Team. Foxworth was their Nickel back and Cox joined the 1st Team during work on the Dime Package.

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SPECIAL TEAMS LINE UPS: WEDNESDAY

den-logo.jpg Kick-Off Return Team:
Returners consisted of WR’s Quincy Morgan, David Kircus and Domenik Hixon each fielded some kicks during the afternoon session. Both Brandon Pace and Todd Sauerbrun got reps kicked off.

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TRAINING CAMP: DAY 3

July 31, 2007

NOTES AND NEWS FROM DAY THREE OF TRAINING CAMP:

Domenik Hixon InjuredWe’re at Day Three at Dove Valley, boys and girls!

And the biggest news from the morning practice is Domenik Hixon’s shoulder injury. The speedy receiver landed on it during the later part of the morning session.

“I just came out and tried to make a play and landed on my shoulder. That’s football.” — Domenik Hixon 7/31/07

The injury is thought to be ‘slight,’ although he will not be returning to the field for the rest of the day. Mike Shanahan discribed the injury as a 1st degree shoulder separation. They will have a MRI done tomorrow to determine the exact injury and recovery time.

Hixon’s absence left room for David Kircus to show off his skills. He had some very acrobatic catches, but he also dropped or bobbled several passes leading Shanahan to mention his consistancy in his post-practice presser.

“He’s a little inconsistent. He drops the ball a few too many times, but he does come up with the big play. That consistency dictates whether or not you get a chance to play come game time. But David does show flashes and hopefully that consistency will improve and if it does improve he will have a chance to be on the football team.”

— Mike Shanahan 7/31/07

However, the ray of hope for Day 3 was seeing Rod Smith running (well, jogging) on the field after the second practice! Go Rod — we NEED ya buddy! 🙂

* Image provide by Erik Lars Bakke and Andrew Mason *

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ONE-A-DAY GROUP

Veteran Players on one-a-day status included: Champ Bailey, John Lynch, Nick Ferguson, Tom Nalen, Matt Lepsis, Ebenezer Ekuban, Sam Adams and Stephen Alexander. Brandon Stokley and Adam Meadows both practiced after sitting out the morning session. Travis Henry also got the afternoon practice off.

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OFFENSIVE LINE UPS: TUESDAY

den-logo.jpg Wide Outs:
With Hixon out and Brandon Stokley only practicing in the evening, David Kircus ran with the 1st Team and Brian Clark was the #3 WR.

den-logo.jpg Tight Ends:
No real change, Nate Jackson and Chad Mustard were also on the 1st Team for kick off returns.

den-logo.jpg Running Backs:
Again, no change. Travis Henry with Cecil Sapp running second. Mike Bell, Andre Hall and Young following behind.

den-logo.jpg O-line:
* 1st Team O-line was unchanged from yesterday: LT Matt Lepsis, LG Ben Hamilton, C Tom Nalen, RG Chris Kuper and RT Erik Pears. AFTERNOON: With Lepsis and Nalen sitting out the practice, Chris Myers took over at center, RT Erik Pears shifted over to the left side and Adam Meadows took Pears’ spot at RT.

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DEFENSIVE LINE UPS: TUESDAY

den-logo.jpg D-line:
* 1st Team D-line stayed the same as the last couple of days: DE’s Ebenezer Ekuban and John Engelberger, DT’s Gerard Warren and Sam Adams. AFTERNOON: Elvis Dumervil lined up at right DE with Ekuban on one-a-days.

DIME PACKAGE NOTE: Ekuban and Warren were the tackles with ends Jarvis Moss and Elvis Dumervil.

den-logo.jpg Linebackers:
* With Ian Gold out with back spasms, the 1st Team LB’s were: D.D. Lewis at SAM, D.J. Williams at MIKE and Louis Green at WILL.

den-logo.jpg Secondary:
No changes here as CB’s Champ Bailey and Dre’ Bly and Safeties Nick Ferguson and John Lynch played on the 1st Team. Foxworth was their Nickel back and Cox joined the 1st Team during work on the Dime Package. Rookie Roderick Rogers did seem 2nd Team action late in the morning practice. AFTERNOON: Domonique Foxworth and Curome Cox filled in for Lynch and Ferguson in the afternoon and Karl Paymah filled in for Champ.

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SPECIAL TEAMS LINE UPS: TUESDAY

den-logo.jpg Kick-Off Return Team:
On Special Teams the 1st kick-off return team looked like this: Safeties Steve Cargile & Hamza Abdullah, RB Cecil Sapp, LB’s Warrick Holdman & D.D. Lewis, TE’s Nate Jackson & Chad Mustard, DE Tim Crowder and O-lineman Chris Myers.

Returners consisted of WR Quincy Morgan and RB Mike Bell, with Kircus and WR Glenn Martinez each fielded some kicks as well. Morgan’s lead blocking was handled by Kyle Johnson, while Troy Fleming worked with Bell.

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TRAINING CAMP: DAY 2

July 30, 2007

NOTES AND NEWS FROM DAY TWO OF TRAINING CAMP:

“That long arm’s going to be home for you baby, home! That’s the leverage we’ve got to have, gentlemen!”

— Jim Bates, in reference to a great play by Elvis Dumervil

So, Day #2 is in the books.

The Broncos had another great day of practice. The morning practice was with shoulder pads and shorts, and the afternoon practice was a shortened Special Teams session. Highlights included Brandon Stokley’s impressive work as he competes for the #2 WR spot. Jarvis Moss showing some great improvement today and Elvis Dumervil proving to his new coach that a short man with long arms can still bust up a play (see above quote)!

On to the notes…

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OFFENSIVE LINE UPS: MONDAY

den-logo.jpg Wide Outs:
Brandon Stokley and Hixon both had time with the first team, but Stokley seemed to impress the most.

den-logo.jpg Tight Ends:
No real change, although Nate Jackson had a good practice. Daniel Graham remained the primary TE with Stephen Alexander and Nate Jackson both getting some reps on the 1st Team. Teyo Johnson worked exclusively with the 2nd and 3rd Teams.

den-logo.jpg Running Backs:
Travis Henry began to pull away seriously from the pack as the rest of the roster followed. Cecil Sapp was running second with Mike Bell, Andre Hall and Young following behind.

den-logo.jpg O-line:
* 1st Team O-line was unchanged from yesterday: LT Matt Lepsis, LG Ben Hamilton, C Tom Nalen, RG Chris Kuper and RT Erik Pears.

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DEFENSIVE LINE UPS: MONDAY

den-logo.jpg D-line:
* 1st Team D-line stayed the same as Sunday: DE’s Ebenezer Ekuban and John Engelberger, DT’s Gerard Warren and Sam Adams.

NICKLE PACKAGE NOTE: Amon Gordon replaced Adams in this package.

den-logo.jpg Linebackers:
* 1st Team LB’s saw D.D. Lewis rotate in for his turn with the unit: SAM D.D. Lewis, WILL Ian Gold, MIKE D.J. Williams

den-logo.jpg Secondary:
No surprises here as CB’s Champ Bailey and Dre’ Bly and Safeties Nick Ferguson and John Lynch played on the 1st Team. Foxworth was their Nickel back and Cox joined the 1st Team during work on the Dime Package.

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DOGFISH: Camp Preview Secondary

July 13, 2007

Everyone is getting ready for camp, and NFL.com has even done a nice video feature on what the Broncos have done this off-season and what we can expect later this month at Training Camp (TC).

And speaking of previewing TC, our guest author Dogfish has the final installment of his Camp Preview series. This time the focus is Denver’s defensive secondary.

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LINEBACKERS

OVERVIEW:

I’m pretty satisfied with this group overall, but I do think there’s more uncertainty at the position entering this year than we’ve seen in quite some time. I feel that we lost the best player of the unit in Al Wilson, but we should have enough solid LBs to get the job done with some improved D-line play.

D.J.’s transition to the middle will be one of the main areas of focus for this group in TC, especially teaching him how to line up the defense and make the correct calls. We’ll also be breaking in at least one new starter on the strong side, although it’s likely to be a vet who does have some starting experience elsewhere.

I’m also interested to see if anyone can mount a challenge to Gold–I certainly hope so. At worst the competition will keep him on his toes, and at best someone like Holdman just MIGHT prove good enough to replace him. I like Gold, but he didn’t impress last year. While I don’t see anyone unseating him in camp, I can see someone potentially challenging him for playing time down the stretch if he doesn’t play better than he was at the end of last year. And if someone gives him a run for his spot in camp, it’ll make that all the more likely.

The addition of Eddie Moore is a bit of a wild card. Moore was a second round pick of the Dolphins a few years back, but he never really panned out. It’s debatable whether Bates likes him enough to give him a second chance here, or if he was really just brought in to help the other LBs learn the system. As Bates didn’t get much out of him in Miami, I’m inclined to suspect that it’s the latter, but you never know.

Cameron Vaughn supposedly has nice potential, T.J. Hollowell has been invited back for another camp, and Louis Green has a few years experience with the club. Those guys will be competing for the backup linebacker spot (or spots, depending on how many we keep this year—right now, with the way the rest of the roster looks to be breaking down, I’m leaning towards five), but special teams play is likely to be an important determining factor. I have FA acquisition D.D. Lewis penciled in as a slight favorite to earn one of those last spots based on reportedly solid ST play in Seattle, as well as some experience playing on the defensive side of the ball.
PLAYER TO WATCH:

D.J. Williams! This is his chance to at last prove that he’s the star most people on this board think, rather than the solid-but-unspectacular player that we’ve seen the past two years. Although I won’t read too much into TC reports for a guy who’s playing his third position in four years, it’ll nonetheless be our first indication of how well D.J. will handle the transition. I think his ability to adapt, including making the line calls, will be one of the biggest factors in just how good our Defense can be this year. And it may influence our draft next year as well, so it’s definitely worth paying close attention to. I’ve said before, I think this is a make-or-break year for D.J. in denver, so he needs to come into camp prepared for the mental challenge.

BEST POSITION BATTLE:

Nate Webster vs. Warrick Holdman for the starting SAM linebacker spot.  Other than the battle for the backup spots, I expect this to be the ONLY real battle battle among the LB corps in camp, and it may well drag on right up to the start of the season or even beyond.  Moore was reportedly running with the first team in OTAs, but I suspect that may have been a result of his experience in Bates’ system more than anything else. Of course he could challenge for a starting spot, but I think the other guys will pass him up once they learn the scheme. Webster may be the more physically talented player, but Holdman is probably more reliable and consistent–he’s also been more durable, and I give him a slight edge.

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART:

1. D.J. Williams
2. Ian Gold
3. T.J. Holdman
4. Nate Webster
5. D.D. Lewis

CORNERBACKS

OVERVIEW:

This looks like possibly the strongest position on the team entering camp. Not only did we add a two-time pro-bowler to play across from the legend, but Dominique Foxworth and Karl Paymah make us very strong all the way down to our dime back. Shanahan isn’t likely to overwork Champ in TC or the preseason, so the younger guys will get plenty of chances to play with the starters. That will give Bates a chance to gauge just how good they are, and that could potentially affect any contract talks if we decide to extend either of them before they hit restricted free agency.

Jeff Shoate is still hanging around, and I would guess that this is his last chance to make an impact. We brought in three corners (Bill Alford, Kevin House and Lamont Reid) from NFLE, so we may be looking for another developmental project. I don’t know about PS eligibility for those guys, but if we keep any of them that would seem like the most probable destination. Curome Cox’s ability to play some corner has allowed us to roll with just four true CBs in the past, and I think we will most likely go that route again this year. Whether Cox plays some corner in TC could give us an early indication if that’s what we’ll do.
PLAYER TO WATCH:

Karl Paymah. If this were a regular season preview, Dre Bly would get this spot for sure, but I don’t know that we’ll really learn what we need to know about him from camp reports. He’s a natural fit for this system, and I expect him to play well in shorts and T-shirts, but Paymah is definitely a player to keep an eye on this year. He reportedly had the most upside of the three corners we drafted in ’04, and I thought he finally started to show some of that at the end of last year, with very solid games against Arizona, Cincy and San Francisco. I’ve felt for a while now that confidence was Paymah’s biggest hurdle–if the light has come on, we may see some good things from him.
Paymah was also lost trying to play Coyer’s stupid fifteen-yard cushion. He’s a physical corner who will be MUCH more comfortable in Bates man-to-man coverage, especially when he’s allowed to play bump-and-run. Even if he doesn’t win one of the top spots, I think he could end up playing a fairly significant role for us this season.
BEST POSITION BATTLE:

Dominique Foxworth vs. Karl Paymah for the nickel back spot. Don’t just assume that Foxworth has this locked up because he’s been ahead of Paymah the past two years. As just mentioned, Bates is bringing a new system that may play to Paymah’s strengths more than Foxworth’s. I do expect Fox to withstand the challenge, but I’m not writing Paymah off just yet. Ultimately I really like both players. I’m happy to finally have some QUALITY youth at the position after quite a few years getting by with odds and ends, and I hope that we move aggressively to lock at least one of them up long-term. Whoever loses this battle will still get plenty of opportunities to contribute, as we traditionally have scored early and put teams in comeback mode.

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART:

1. Champ Bailey
2. Dre Bly
3. Domonique Foxworth
4. Karl Paymah

SAFETIES

OVERVIEW:

Really, there’s not a whole lot to talk about here. Unless something unexpected happens, the depth chart looks to be rather set here–at least towards the top. We didn’t bring in any new blood at the position except for UDFA Roderick Rogers, and I can’t see him as more than a PS player at this point. Steve Cargile and Quentin Harris were desperation hires last year–I doubt either makes the squad. Maybe Brandon or Abdullah can at least challenge Ferguson for a starting spot (I’m sure Lynch will put in a good word to Shenanigans for Hamza 🙂 ). . .

Really, the health of Ferguson and Brandon will be the biggest question that TC can answer. And even if they do prove to be fully healthy, I think their reps will probably be limited until at least the preseason (probably Lynch’s as well– he hardly has anything left to prove, or learn).

PLAYER TO WATCH:

Sam Brandon. Given the TEs we have to face in our division, Brandon’s importance can’t be overstated IMO. He may not start, but he plays a valuable role! Gates had his biggest game against us last year with Brandon out of the lineup. Coming off a knee injury can be tricky for a DB, and Brandon also backs up the CB spot. His return to full health is important to us, and if he’s ever going to challenge for a full-time starting position, this should be the year.

BEST POSITION BATTLE:

I’ll say Ferguson vs. the Field for the starting SS spot, but I’m really not sure how much of a battle it’ll turn out to be.

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART:

1. John Lynch
2. Nick Ferguson
3. Sam Brandon
4. Curome Cox
5. Hamza Abdullah

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Well, that wraps up the special camp preview series by our guest author Dogfish. I strongly encourage you to check out the forums over at broncomania, where Dogfish and many other insightful fans chat about everything under the sun!

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Mini-Camp Notes & Info

July 10, 2007

Javon Walker’s MohawkMini-Camp is officially wrapped up and we’ll have a couple of weeks without any news again before Training Camp starts. But for two days we got a good look at some new broncos (as well as some old ones).

Here is the much awaited closer look at Javon’s new hairdo (courtesy of Andrew Mason). We don’t know yet if this is a tribute to Darrent Williams or just a fashion statement… We’ll keep you posted!

and here are some football-related highlights from mini-camp…

 

den-logo.jpg First, and foremost, is the excellent coverage of all things orange & blue by our hero of the Denver blog-o-sphere Andrew Mason. He continues his work with daily news and pictures from mini-camp. Check out the pictures here: DAY 1, Day 2

den-logo.jpg Brandon Stokley was out on the field and running around. He even participate in 7-on-7 drills on Tuesday! He is expected to be 100% by the time Camp starts on the 27th. FULL STORY on Rocky Mountain News, FULL STORY in the Post

den-logo.jpg Brandon Marshall was also on the field running again…. until he pulled his quadriceps. He says it’s no big deal and that he plans to be 100% for Camp. FULL STORY on his recovery from the Groin Injury on DenverBroncos.com

den-logo.jpg Cecil Sapp played RB for the Second Team.

den-logo.jpg The First Team O-line on Monday consisted of: LT Matt Lepsis, LG Ben Hamilton, C Tom Nalen, RG Chris Kuper and RT Erik Pears. On Tuesday, Ben Hamilton was absent and Chris Myers filled in.

den-logo.jpg The First Team D-line rotated heavily both days.

den-logo.jpg As for the secondary, Eddie Moore lined up with the First Team on Monday but was absent on Tuesday. Mike Shanahan said it was excused, but won’t go into details. Warrick Holdman filled in for the LB.

den-logo.jpg Ian Gold, Curome Cox, John Lynch and newly acquired NFLE CB Kevin House each intercepted passes on Monday.

den-logo.jpg Nick Ferguson’s wife gave birth at 4am this morning to a baby boy… and, yes, that excused him from practice as well! Nick says now that he has another mouth to feed he’s going play even more aggressively–is that possible?!

den-logo.jpg Still, hungry for more Broncos New… Check out the great coverage over at THE BEAT and the Guru’s list of Quotables over on Mile High Report.