It’s only natural that the rookies feel generally excited about Sunday’s game — after all, six of them have been in starting roles, sometimes at different positions.
But for Josh Bell and Spencer Larsen, it’s a little different this week.
Bell, an undrafted rookie out of Baylor, started the first game of his career last week in Atlanta opposite Dre’ Bly.
This week, with the odds even better that Champ Bailey will resume his spot in the starting lineup, Bell could play at nickelback. If that’s the case, he’s looking forward to being on the field with both Bailey and Bly, two of the best in the business.
“I’ve been looking up to Dre’ Bly for a while, since he was at Carolina, watching him when I was back in high school,” Bell said. “Then Champ being one of the best, if I can get my little brothers and my family to see me with those two, and I’m good enough to be there, it’s going to be a great thing. I’m going to cherish the moment.”
For Larsen, his excitement stems from earning his first award as a pro.
Starting at fullback and linebacker says a lot about his athleticism, versatility and intelligence. And fans noticed that when they voted him Diet Pepsi Rookie of the Week.
“It is cool,” Larsen said. “It is something I didn’t expect. I just found out today. It is always good to have people recognize you, especially at this level.”
And when asked how friends and family reacted, he laughed and talked about how most people couldn’t believe it.
“No way this kid from Gilbert, Ariz? People have been happy for me,” Larsen said. “I have gotten lot of text messages and messages from people I haven’t talked to in a long time.”
But Larsen is also excited to get back out onto the field and continue building chemistry with his fellow linebackers.
While he made seven tackles, he feels that he still has a lot to improve upon, and he’ll get a chance to build upon his solid play against the Raiders.
“Down on the goal line I feel like I didn’t play as well as I would have liked to,” Larsen said. “I would like to be more focused down there. I can get better at my technique. Watching the film you can tell that I was getting to the right spot but just not as fluid as smoothly as I would have liked to. That is what I worked on this week.”
Head Coach Mike Shanahan spoke for a few minutes with the media after Friday’s practice, updating everyone on the status of Bly, who missed practice, Bailey and Selvin Young.
First up — Bly.
“He has the flu, so we sent him home today,” Shanahan said. “Hopefully it’s just the 24-hour flu.”
As for Bailey, Shanahan said he thinks that he has made some strides and could be good to go.
“He’s close,” Shanahan said. “We don’t want to test him closely until game time, but he’s gotten some reps and he’s feeling much better.”
And then there’s Young, who has been fighting a groin strain for weeks now. He returned to action in a very limited capacity against the Browns, but Shanahan thinks that may have set him back just a little bit.
“I think anytime a guy works out you can set yourself back a little bit, but you’ve got to do that a little bit to get back,” Shanahan said of Young. “He’s doubtful. I don’t really think he’ll be able to go. He practiced with the scout team some this week but he doesn’t look as good as Champ.”
Even if he hadn’t suited up and played in Cleveland, there’s even a chance he might have gotten set back anyways. Who knew something as simple as traveling could hurt?
“I think sometimes the plane ride hurts too,” Shanahan said. “You start to get loose and then all of a sudden you fly and that sets you back a little bit.”
So he has a new solution — one that drew more than a few laughs.
“Next time, we’re going to make him drive.”
THE OFFICIAL INJURY REPORT
For the Broncos, Marlon McCree, Nate Webster and D.J. Williams will miss this weekend’s game against the Raiders. Not too much of a surprise there as Shanahan also updated their status after practice. Bailey is listed as questionable while Bly is probable.
For the Raiders, linebacker Ricky Brown, center Jake Grove and wide receiver Javon Walker are out. Wide receiver Chaz Schilens is listed as questionable while quarterback JaMarcus Russell is probable.
– Adam Zinser, DenverBroncos.com
And here’s a look at some of today’s action.