Well, I don’t think this will spawn as many comments as yesterday’s entry …
I scanned the east field at Dove Valley on Tuesday afternoon, taking a mental roll call of who was and was not taking part in the Broncos’ on-field session. I started with the running backs and fullbacks.
Selvin Young … check.
Cecil Sapp … check.
Kyle Johnson … check, back after missing Monday’s practice.
Travis Henry … still out.
Mike Bell … still out.
Andre Hall … still out.
Troy Fleming … check.
Paul Smith … check.
After those names had been accounted for, I squinted into the sunlight. Who’s this guy in jersey No. 33? It didn’t seem as though Thump Belton had returned after being released just under a month ago; the guy wearing the number this time was slimmer.
Then he took off his helmet, and the face was immediately recognizable — that of Cedric Cobbs, a backup in 2006 who found himself released by the Broncos two days after the draft, sending him into the vast pool of unclaimed players looking for a roster opening.
“Me and my agent have been working teams that have a need for running backs,” Cobbs said. “It just so happened that Denver (had running backs) go down, and Denver just decided to give me a chance after my agent called.”
For nearly four months now, Cobbs could only work out and wait. He had three NFL tryouts, but nothing transpired from them.
“I was almost getting ready to talk to the AAFL,” Cobbs said, “but Denver ended up calling.”
That’s the All-American Football League, an outfit that held tryouts in Orlando, Fla. in early July, but has yet to play a game, although it is scheduled to kick off next year. Its emphasis is on placing former college standouts not in the NFL in clubs near where they starred as undergraduates, with the goal of capitalizing off college fans’ affinity for their favorite school’s one-time standouts.
But Cobbs wasn’t quite ready to give up on the NFL, even after the Broncos released him in the midst of an offseason that saw them add Travis Henry and Selvin Young to their complement of runners while converting Cecil Sapp from fullback.
“It had me worried after they brought in Travis Henry, but I had no idea,” Cobbs said. “I figured that I could at least have a chance to prove myself during training camp, but that wasn’t the case, but now I’m here again, so I’ve just got to go out here and give it my best shot.”
Even with the AAFL chance looming, Cobbs wasn’t ready to surrender his NFL chance — not after a splendid preseason last summer helped him land on the roster before a Week 2 ankle injury torpedoed his regular season for all practical purposes.
“My mind wondered every day, ‘Why did it happen to me?’” Cobbs said. “You’ve just got to go on and live on and hope for the best, and hope that you get that opportunity, get your best shot and leave it all on the field.”
Which is exactly where Cobbs hopes to be Saturday night. The Broncos have just two healthy tailbacks expected to play against the Cleveland Browns — Sapp and Young — and if there’s ever going to be a chance for Cobbs to play extensively, this game is likely it.
“I think that as long as I’ve still got the game plan down and have proven to them I won’t make a big mess-up — as long as I’m practicing and in my playbook, I’ll have a chance to go out there Saturday,” he said.
And then, he hopes, he can check off a big game — which might get him one more NFL shot, be it in Denver or somewhere else in the NFL.