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Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Broncos practice report: Fumbles troubling

By Jeff Legwold

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Broncos fumbled four times in the first half of Saturday’s preseason loss to the Seahawks. They lost three of those, including Ronnie Hillman's into the end zone on what should have been a 1-yard scoring run to cap a quality drive. Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner returned that fumble 106 yards for a Seattle touchdown.

And it’s fairly clear where first-year offensive coordinator Adam Gase comes down on the issue.

“What happened the other day? Unacceptable,’’ Gase said. “ ... We’re not going to put the ball on the ground or else they’re not going to carry it.’’

It has also been on the Broncos front burner all through the preseason, especially in drills with the running backs given it was such a glaring a problem when they opened 3-3 in 2012. Over those first six games the Broncos lost nine of the 14 fumbles they lost all season, including three lost fumbles in a loss to New England and two lost fumbles in a win over San Diego, a game the Broncos trailed 24-0 at halftime.

Denver's Ronnie Hillman
Ronnie Hillman's fumble into the end zone was returned 106 yards for a touchdown by Seattle's Brandon Browner.
Over the year running backs lost seven fumbles overall, including four by Willis McGahee, which tied the Broncos with the Buffalo Bills for most in the league from that position group.

“(Fumbles) have been a huge point of emphasis for us this offseason,’’ Gase said. “Because the fumbles we had early in the season last year -- that was one of the main factors why we started off as slowly as we did.’’

The turnovers clouded the fact the Broncos put up 209 yards worth of offense on the Seahawks defensive starters in the first half Saturday and they ran 40 plays from scrimmage in the half to do it, yet by halftime the game had fully blossomed into a blowout with Seattle holding a 33-7 lead at the end of the second quarter.

“But the statistics always show, with every turnover your chances of winning go down big," Broncos coach John Fox said. “And three turnovers? That’s about a 10 percent chance of winning."