Sometimes a sprained ankle can be as pricey to a man’s career as a torn anterior cruciate ligament or a compound fracture.
For running back Cedric Cobbs, the beginning of his end in Denver came when he lost the handle on the overtime-opening kickoff return against Kansas City in Week 2 last year, and then suffered an ankle sprain in the ensuing scrum around the 20-yard-line at the south end of INVESCO Field at Mile High. The Broncos recovered the loose football, but Cobbs left the stadium on crutches and could never recover his previous stature with the team.
The sprain kept him inactive for the next four games, and although he would carry the ball three times for nine yards at Pittsburgh, that represented the extent of his on-field work; he spent the season’s final eight games watching in warmups from the bench as one of the Broncos’ game-day deactivations.
Meanwhile, the team promoted Damien Nash from the practice squad, kept feeding the football to Mike and Tatum Bell and signed rookie Andre Hall to the practice squad.
Now, two days after the NFL Draft, Cobbs’ career as a Bronco is done. Tatum Bell’s place at the top of the tailback tree now belongs to March street-free-agent signee Travis Henry. Nash passed away in February. Cecil Sapp is being placed in a hybrid fullback-tailback role that could get him the football more — which might not be a bad thing, seeing that he averaged 8.0 yards per carry in ’06. Hall possesses practice-squad eligibility and could find himself showcased in the preseason as the team attempts to learn what the two-time 1,300-yard runner at South Florida can do on the pro level. And the kickoff-return duties Cobbs so briefly handled will be settled in a scrum that will likely include names like Quincy Morgan, Brian Clark, Domenik Hixon and Brandon Marshall, among others.
Cobbs’ opportunity in Denver proved to be as brief as his flashes of preseason success last summer — flashes that left Head Coach Mike Shanahan speculating after the August finale at Arizona that carries could be divided three ways. That didn’t come to pass, and now, Cobbs and the Broncos pass into each other’s respective rear-view mirrors.