Broncos living by mantra, 'next man up'

August, 12, 2013
8/12/13
11:30
AM ET
The Denver Broncos were just days into camp when they lost center Dan Koppen, a potential starter at best and a No. 2 player on the depth chart at worst, to a torn ACL.

Koppen is already on injured reserve, and the Broncos have seen starters/potential starters like right tackle Orlando Franklin, tight end Jacob Tamme, tight end Joel Dreessen, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and defensive tackle Sylvester Williams each miss practice time with injuries suffered since camp opened.

And no matter the frequency of injuries or the salary cap status of the player who is helped off the field, Broncos coach John Fox will always publicly stick with his mantra.

"Next man up, that's what we live by," Fox said. "Because you have to, nobody is going to feel sorry for you. They ain't cancelling the games."

But year after year, the teams that say "next man up" too many times usually lose the most games. The numbers from 2012 confirm it once again and show, at least in some way, why the Broncos were 13-3 and reeled off an 11-game win streak.

Twenty-one teams used at least 60 different players on their 46-player gameday rosters last season -- teams designate seven "inactives" for every game. Only five of those teams made the playoffs (Cincinnati, Green Bay, Washington, New England and Indianapolis).

Of those five, only the Redskins dealt with a major injury at quarterback when Robert Griffin III suffered a knee injury against the Ravens.

Jacksonville (2-14) used the most players on the 46-player gameday rosters (75), followed by Deroit (4-12), the Jets (6-10) and the Colts (11-5) -- all at 68 players.

The Broncos were beneficiaries of relative good health, using 59 players on the gameday roster; just three teams used fewer -- the Vikings (53), the 49ers (55) and the Falcons (56). The Texans, Seahawks and Rams were also at 59.

The Super Bowl champion Ravens were at 60.

No wonder players often end conversations with "stay healthy." And no wonder the status of those already in the training room in Denver could impact how things go in the coming weeks and months.

Jeff Legwold

ESPN Denver Broncos reporter

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