Denver has to adjust on the ground again

December, 22, 2008
12/22/08
6:56
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

How does a guy go from working at a cellular phone kiosk in a mall to being a team's lead tailback in a winner-take-all regular-season finale?

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When a team loses seven tailbacks to the injured reserve.

Tatum Bell is the quintessential emergency tailback. Bell, signed last month by Denver, is now the team's go-to tailback on Sunday night. The winner of the game will be AFC West champ.

The latest Denver running backs lost to injury are P.J. Pope and Selvin Young, both hurt in Sunday's loss to Buffalo. Pope started against the Bills and had 44 yards on six carries before he suffered a hamstring injury. Young suffered a neck injury against Buffalo.

Now, Bell gets the call. Traded by Denver to Detroit in 2007, Bell was cut by the Lions in September. He was out of football for two months and was working at a Denver-area cell phone store as a manager when the Broncos brought him back.

Backing up Bell on Sunday will be Cory Boyd, who was re-signed off the practice squad. and Alex Haynes, who was signed Monday. Boyd could get a chance for extensive playing time against San Diego if he performs well in practice. He has been a good practice player, but Denver didn't think he was ready for game action a couple weeks ago. Now, the Broncos have no choice but to play Boyd.

Denver will have to find a way to get a running attack going against the Chargers. In the fourth quarter against Buffalo, Denver threw 22 times and ran it three times.

Denver coach Mike Shanahan said at his news conference Monday that the team must simply make do.

"Even though we have had a couple more guys go on IR, we still feel like we have guys that know our system, terminology and how to execute, so that is a plus," Shanahan said.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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