As Sunday’s matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars gets one day closer, the Broncos remember last year’s game all too well.
The Jags jumped out to an early 17-7 lead in the first half, extending it to 20-7 before the Broncos would get on the board again. A fourth quarter touchdown got Denver within a score, but it was not to be. The Jaguars won that game 23-14. This year, the Broncos would like to swap it up.
Denver is coming off a 16-13 win over a Buccaneers team that is similar to Jacksonville in several ways. Both teams like to play hard-nosed defense. Both like to pound the ball in the running game. And in that game against the Bucs, the Denver defense stepped up to match the physicality of their opponent. They’ll need to do it again this week.
But the Jaguars have a different dimension that the Bucs don’t have, thanks to one person — David Garrard.
“Everything starts with their quarterback,” Marlon McCree said before Thursday’s practice. “David is one heck of a guy. He’s a great quarterback. He makes great decisions with the ball, and he can take off and run with it, too.”
He has gotten off to a rough start in 2008, but Garrard was one of the top quarterbacks a year ago, completing 208-of-325 passes for 2,509 yards and 18 touchdowns to just three interceptions in 12 games. He went 14-of-20 for 154 and a touchdown against the Broncos in 2007 — pretty simple statistics — but he also scrambled 12 times for 52 yards.
The Broncos recognize the type of things Garrard is able to do, but they are more than up for the challenge.
“They’re definitely kind of similar to Tampa Bay,” Elvis Dumervil said. “They’ve got a really physical offensive line, their quarterback is able to scramble well, so it’s going to be a big challenge for us this week. The philosophy, I think, is there. We’ve just got to bring the same energy we brought last week against a very good team.”
INJURIES BITE HARD
For the Broncos, neither Tony Scheffler nor Selvin Young will suit up. Eddie Royal is dinged up, but he has been practicing on a limited basis. When asked about Royal’s status, Head Coach Mike Shanahan said, “We’ll see.”
And the Jaguars have been decimated by injuries along the offensive line to go along with the terrible and tragic shooting of offensive tackle Richard Collier. Center Brad Meester has been limited in practice with a biceps injury, but he has yet to play a game in 2008. Backup guard Chris Naeole has been limited with a knee injury. And that’s after starters Vince Manuwai and Maurice Williams were placed on injured reserve.
They also have some major injuries in their defensive secondary. Safety Reggie Nelson has only played in three games and has not practiced this week with a knee injury. Cornerback Drayton Florence has missed time as well.
While the Jaguars may have been hit harder by injuries than the Broncos, don’t think that anyone at Dove Valley is underestimating them.
“Jacksonville, anybody in that division, the AFC South — even Houston. Tennessee I think has the best defense in the league,” McCree said. “Indy, they’re physical, and Jacksonville is a tough team. That division comes with some physicality with it, and we know we’ve got to be prepared.”
A BREAK IN THE CASE
For the family and friends of Darrent Williams, last night was a big night.
Willie Clark, who has been a suspect in the murder of the slain cornerback and is in federal custody on unrelated charges, was indicted on first degree murder charges for the drive-by shooting that killed Williams.
Shanahan spoke on the matter following the team’s practice.
“The Denver Police did an unbelievable job in the investigation,” Shanahan said. “From our perspective, nothing will bring Darrent back, but we’re very proud that they’ve found a person or at least they’ve got a chance to go through the due process. I think our organization is very happy. I think the Williams family is very happy. With the indictment on all the counts, it sounds like it’s a pretty strong case.”
President and CEO Pat Bowlen also commented on the recent developments.
“Knowing Rosalind (Williams, Darrent’s mother), I know that this has brought back some memories for her,” Bowlen said. “She needs a little time to digest that. I really like Rosalind — she’s done a wonderful job under very bad circumstances.”
“We stayed in contact, as much as we could, with the Denver Police department,” Bowlen continued. “They were going to do a very thorough job with this and make sure they came out with the guy who pulled the trigger.”
– Adam Zinser, DenverBroncos.com