Stats blather, injury updates, and other thoughts from a quiet Tuesday afternoon at Dove Valley:
Topic 1: Deceptive rankings:
The league rushing tables say that Broncos running back Tatum Bell ranks ninth in the league with 295 yards so far this season. But with the Broncos having their bye week early this year, their players will be at a little bit of a disadvantage when it comes to league rankings.
Right now, Buffalo’s Willis McGahee leads the league with 389 rushing yards. St. Louis’ Stephen Jackson is second with 367 yards, while Atlanta’s Warrick Dunn ranks third with 365. But if the statistics were based off yardage per game, none would be in the league’s top three, and Bell would be tied for second with Kansas City’s Larry Johnson at 98.3 yards per game. Only San Diego’s LaDainian Tomlinson would be ahead of Bell; he has 100.0 yards per game this year, but because he’s only played in three games, he ranks seventh in the league in overall yardage, two slots ahead of Bell and Johnson.
Bell is not only efficient on a per-game basis, but per carry, too. He is the only NFL running back with at least 50 carries to average more than five yards a pop; Bell’s pace is 5.1 yards, to be exact. He was also above five yards a rush in 2004 and 2005, averaging 5.3 yards per carry each of those years.
Topic 2: Walker at the top
Javon Walker, like Bell, is also efficient; his 83-yard touchdown at New England has helped him become the NFL’s early-season leader in yards per catch at 22.7. San Francisco’s Antonio Bryant trails him by six-tenths of a yard; Chicago’s Bernard Berrian ranks third with 21.1 yards per reception.
Like Bell, the per-game numbers also validate Walker’s early-season efforts more than his place in the league’s receiving rankings. Walker has 250 yards this season, placing him 22nd in the league tables, but his average of 83.3 yards per game is seventh-best in the league.
Topic 3: Brown for Mulitalo:
While linebacker Al Wilson looks as though he’ll be ready to go for Sunday’s game after incurring a slight hamstring injury nine days ago at New England, the same cannot be said of Ravens left guard Edwin Mulitalo, whose season ended Sunday because of a torn right triceps muscle. That will leave second-year player Jason Brown to make his second career start. (Shameless plug: to learn more about Brown’s background, look back at a Broncos TV piece on him that ran in the weeks leading up to the 2005 NFL Draft.) Of some note is the fact that one of the backs Brown blocked for at Carolina was Steelers tailback Willie Parker.
Topic 4: Dueling games?
Denver and Baltimore might not be the only teams playing on Monday night. If the American League Division Series between the Minnesota Twins and Oakland A’s goes to a fifth game, then the Vikings’ game against the Detroit Lions would be moved to next Monday night at 7:30 p.m. CDT — running concurrently with the Broncos-Ravens contest. The move would be made to accomodate a Game 5, which would be played Sunday at the Metrodome. In past years, similar baseball-induced time shifts — including one that involved the Broncos’ game at Minnesota following the 1987 World Series (another came 10 years later in Miami after the Indians-Marlins seven-game thriller) — meant that the game that was previously scheduled to air nationally did not air in the markets involved in the other, rescheduled game. We don’t know yet if this scenario means that a Twins-A’s Game 5 would force Broncos-Ravens off the air in Minneapolis and Detroit, but if you’re in those markets, stay tuned.
Topic 5: More shameless plugs:
Press conferences for Jake Plummer and Head Coach Mike Shanahan begin at approximately 11:50 a.m. MDT on Wednesday. Also look for the second edition of Nate Jackson’s journal, which returns after a bye-week siesta for the erudite tight end.
So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu.