Posted on Sat, Dec. 08, 2007 10:15 PM
Banged-up Broncos have it bad, too By RANDY COVITZ
The Kansas City Star
Broncos defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban has yet to play this year.
If there’s any team that can feel the Chiefs’ pain regarding injuries, it’s the Denver Broncos.Think the Chiefs have had it bad?
Denver’s uncharacteristic 5-7 record going into today’s game against the Chiefs can be pegged directly to a siege of injuries that began in training camp and continues to devastate the roster.
Six starters, including five-time Pro Bowl center Tom Nalen, three-time Pro Bowler and franchise reception leader Rod Smith, and linebacker Warrick Holdman, who was signed as unrestricted free agent from Washington during the offseason, are on injured reserve. They were joined on injured reserve on Nov. 6 by defensive end Jarvis Moss, the Broncos’ first-round pick from Florida.
Smith, Holdman, guard Ben Hamilton, tight end Stephen Alexander and defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban haven’t played a snap this season.
And that doesn’t count injuries that have limited starting wide receiver Javon Walker to three starts and sidelined running back Travis Henry for four games. Even indestructible cornerback Champ Bailey missed a game because of a quadriceps injury.
“I’ve been on teams where there has been a lot of injuries, but not so many starters, some of the best football players on this team, who have been hurt and hurt for the year,” said Pro Bowl safety John Lynch, who has missed three games because of groin and neck injuries.
“You can’t use that as an excuse, but it has been a little abnormal, the amount of injuries to key players this year.”
Broncos coach Mike Shanahan refuses to use injuries as an excuse for Denver’s mediocre season.
“Either you get it done or you don’t,” Shanahan said. “Everybody has injuries, and sometimes you’re a little bit more unfortunate some years than other years, but it gives some opportunities for some young guys to show what they can do.
“We’ve had some young guys step up and play well.”
And that has encouraged Shanahan for the future.
“Just like Kansas City, when you lose guys, you want to see guys step up, and we’ve had a few of those young guys do a good job,” Shanahan said.
“Anytime you lose Tom Nalen and Ben Hamilton, but Chris Myers and Chris Kuper step up and play well … we lose Travis Henry for four weeks and we find Selvin Young and Andre Hall have a couple of good games.”
Still, the Broncos are on the brink of missing the playoffs for the second straight year, the first time that has happened since 2001-02.
“Anytime you don’t control your own destiny this time of the year, you find out what your team is made of, how guys fight, how guys come in and play at what level,” Shanahan said. “There is disappointment … and you’re hoping you’re not in this situation too much, but everybody is in it once in a while, and you find out a lot about your guys when there is adversity.”