Week 13 leftovers and Week 14 appetizers …
… At least now the questions about Travis Henry can stop. Seldom was the press briefing for Head Coach Mike Shanahan in the last few weeks that the subject of his appeal did not arise. Now the public focus on Henry can go back to his recovery from a partially torn posterior cruciate ligament, which had progressed enough for him to play Sunday and score twice — although his playing time was more than Shanahan hoped, as he noted at his postgame and Monday afternoon briefings. The first illumination on the health of Denver’s running backs will come Wednesday afternoon at practice …
… With Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards already ruling Larry Johnson out for Sunday, it’s their quarterback situation that bears watching in regards to injuries. Brodie Croyle missed last week with a bruised lower back, and Edwards indicated he wouldn’t try to shove the second-year passer into Sunday’s game if he wasn’t healthy enough.
“If he can’t protect himself and we feel he’s not mobile enough to get out of the way, then there’s no need to play him this week,” Edwards said Tuesday. “But he’s going to come to practice tomorrow and we’ll see where he’s at.
“You definitely want to see more of Brodie Croyle, but you’re not going to put him in there wounded either. That’s not fair to the kid.”
If Damon Huard starts Sunday, it will give him two consecutive starts for the Chiefs at INVESCO Field at Mile High. He played throughout the Chiefs’ game in Denver in September 2006, a game that ended in a 9-6 Broncos overtime win …
… A few words about Jeff Shoate, whom the Broncos waived Tuesday. Few to come through the halls of Dove Valley have been friendlier, more accommodating or warmer than Shoate. It wasn’t so much Shoate the NFL player that stands out in my mind as much as Shoate the man — a man who grew up faster than most after becoming a father to Jesiah at the age of 18.
Three years ago, two months after the Broncos drafted him, we ran a profile on Shoate that focused on his commitment to his young child and his wife, including the jobs he had to hold down in his college years to make ends meet — including working for an undertaker, running cadavers around San Diego. It wasn’t the most pleasant job, but it was the only one that would allow him to continue playing football at San Diego State, remain a full-time student and provide support and time to his young family.
Jesiah, now eight years old, occasionally accompanied his father to Dove Valley and possesses his father’s wild hair, a frizzy Afro that would have fit nicely in the 1970s. But I think it’s a good bet that he’ll grow up imparted with his father’s diligence, honor and respect — traits that will serve both generations of Shoates well, no matter what path their future takes. Here’s hoping that for the elder Shoate, it involves playing somewhere in the NFL, because he’s definitely the kind of fellow for whom it’s easy to root …
… Two signs you spend too much time buried in football:
1. You find yourself listening to Christmas music as you write the daily notebook or some other piece, not so much because you’re in the mood to hear a pack of long-deceased dogs bark “Jingle Bells,” but because you want to remind yourself that this is still December, even though from your vantage behind a laptop, every day looks the same, and your only reminder of which month it is lies in the number of the week on the NFL schedule — Week 13, Week 14, et. al. This also means that you walk out the front door of your place in a heavy leather jacket because you haven’t read the weather forecast that called for a high temperature in the mid-60s. This happened to me Tuesday.
2. When The Most Wonderful Time of Year pops up on your iPod, you find yourself singing, “There’ll be tales of the glories of bowl games from long, long ago.” Bring on the annual ESPN college-bowl game commercials …
… And with that, let’s bring on some photos I shot from pregame warmups on Sunday:
As I turned the zoom lens on quarterback Jay Cutler, it struck me how classic his delivery is. He might have a somewhat unorthodox style at times, particularly in his ability to adeptly execute variances such as the option, but when he fades back to pass and fires, it’s exactly what one wants to see. To lapse into cliche’, he just looks like a pro quarterback.
Just because it’s only warmups doesn’t mean guys aren’t getting in each other’s faces, so to speak.
Remember, Rod Smith was the emergency quarterback when he was on the active roster. He’s still got it, one would reckon.
Now, the up-close shots:
But I can’t imagine a much more compelling photo subject than Brandon Marshall. Even in the relative tranquility of warmups, his face and eyes cross the spectrum of emotion, while his voice is often heard.
And just like in the locker room during an interview, No. 15 is rarely at a loss for words. All he needs is someone to listen, whether it’s a teammate or line judge Tom Barnes.
Few players are more intriguing to watch from a press-box observer’s perspective than Marshall. The fact that his statements and answers to queries traipse into the realm of the outrageous has nothing to do with this; it’s the passion and colorful manner with which he plays every down that often leaves my binoculars focused on what he does from play to play. A fascinating player, indeed.
That’s enough for now; press conferences and open-locker room will come soon enough … I need a little sleep in between. If I’m tired today, then, as Jimmy Buffett sang in Margaritaville, “It’s my own damn fault.” Truer words have rarely been spoken. Talk to you again soon … until then, vaya con Dios.