NFL Nation: Andre Goodman

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- In stark contrast to Ray Rice's awkward news conference in May, the Baltimore Ravens running back showed Thursday that he finally understood the weight of his actions from the alleged altercation with his then-fiancée in February.

He delivered the correct message, one the NFL failed to do last week with the two-game suspension, by not only apologizing to his wife, Janay Palmer, but also expressing a desire to become an advocate for domestic-violence causes.

Rice was compelling in his contrition, calling it the biggest mistake of his life. He stood in front of the microphone alone, without his wife standing by his side, and took full responsibility for the incident. Perhaps more importantly, Rice actually said the words "domestic violence," which weren't heard in his statement two months ago.

"My actions were inexcusable," Rice said. "That's something I have to live with the rest of my life."

Before anyone pats Rice on the back, this is what he should have said the first time when he broke his silence in May. Instead, Rice nervously fumbled through notes on his phone and apologized to team officials and his sponsors. That debacle of a news conference came across as damage control to his image.

His 17-minute news conference Thursday hit the right tones. He apologized to all women affected by domestic violence. He accepted the blame for losing the respect of fans. Rice came across as genuinely sorry.

"I let my wife down, I let my daughter down, I let my wife's parents down, I let the whole Baltimore community down," Rice said.

Rice's biggest misstep was not talking about what happened in the elevator. He was asked twice about it and declined to answer both times. His stance against domestic violence would have resonated stronger if he had explained his transgressions.

"I'll be honest: Like I said, I own my actions," Rice said. "I just don't want to keep reliving the incident. It doesn't bring any good to me. I'm just trying to move forward from it. I don't condone it. I take full responsibility for my actions. What happened that night is something that I'm going to pay for the rest of my life."

The only way Rice can move forward from this incident and show he's truly sincere is through his actions. It's not by his words. It's not by a hefty donation, which is merely a gesture. It's by proving this will remain a "one-time incident" and by supporting domestic-violence causes.

Thursday represented a small step forward for Rice. But it was an important one.
MillerRon Chenoy/US PresswireSure, the Broncos have Peyton Manning, but their success may rest on Von Miller and the defense.

Barring a setback from the neck injury that cost him the entire 2011 season, Peyton Manning has the Denver Broncos’ offense covered. That side of the ball will be fine and will be in playoff form.

But what about the defense?

That side of the ball will be a key to Denver's season. If the 2012 Denver defense can make the strides it did in 2011, the Broncos have a chance to be a serious contender.

Bill Polian, who knows Manning well, has said he thinks the potential of the Broncos' defense is one of the reasons Manning chose to play in Denver. Polian, the Colts’ former general manager who brought Manning to Indianapolis and who is now an ESPN analyst, said last week he thinks the Denver defense could be a spark for the Manning-led offense.

“John Fox is going to coach up that defense and it has a chance to play great defense,” Polian said. “That will only help Peyton.”

However, I believe the Broncos have work to do before they can start playing great defense.

Tracy Porter
Scott A. Miller/US PresswireTracy Porter joins the Denver secondary and will pair with Champ Bailey.
This unit is a work in progress. It went from No. 32 in 2010 prior to Fox’s arrival to No. 20 in 2011 under the guidance of Fox and coordinator Dennis Allen, who is now the head coach in Oakland. The 2011 Denver Broncos will be remembered for the wild days of Tim Tebow, but it was the defense that rose up and solidified the team. With Manning running the offense and former Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio running the defense, the team has a chance to go to the next level.

The defense in Denver starts with pass-rushers Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller. The pair combined for 21 sacks last season and they should be one of the most dynamic pass-rush duos in the NFL for years to come. Polian called the pair special and an anchor for the defense.

Denver upgraded at cornerback by signing Tracy Porter of New Orleans. He is a solid No. 2 cornerback and will make a strong pairing with the aging, but still dominant Champ Bailey. Porter, who has had challenges staying healthy, is an upgrade from Andre Goodman. Underrated safety Mike Adams was signed from Cleveland. He will pair with second-year player Quinton Carter, who made strides as the season went on. The team will give 2011 No. 2 pick Rahim Moore a chance to rebound from a rookie season in which he regressed. But Adams and Carter should be a serviceable pairing.

There are some problems, though. Outside linebacker D.J. Williams, one of the better defenders on the team, is facing a six-game NFL suspension for using a banned substance. He is fighting it in the form of a lawsuit. Defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley signed with New Orleans. Bunkley was a tone-setter, and even though he played only 43 percent of the snaps, he will be missed.

Denver has a major void at defensive tackle and it probably will take advantage of a strong draft class at the position and use the No. 25 pick on a player such as Mississippi State’s Fletcher Cox, Penn State’s Devon Still or LSU’s Michael Brockers. They also want to re-sign Marcus Thomas and hope 2011 free-agent signee Ty Warren is healthy after missing the past two seasons.

There is no doubt this is still a building project and that concerns Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc.

“I was very worried about this defense, but now I feel a little better about it after it signed Porter, who is a very solid No. 2 behind Bailey,” Williamson said. “But I still have my worries about the defense up the middle. Losing Bunkley hurts quite a bit, but maybe Ty Warren can help out this year. The safety position worries me. But they can sure rush the passer. The question is will be they be able to handle a physical offense.”

After being the bright spot of a surprise team in 2011, the Denver defense must take the next step in a year when, suddenly, much is expected from this team.

A Manning and Porter union?

March, 20, 2012
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While there has been talk the Denver Broncos may bring in some former Indianapolis Colts teammates to make Peyton Manning comfortable, they also may bring in the man who delivered Manning his greatest professional blow.

The Broncos are set to visit with New Orleans cornerback Tracy Porter on Wednesday, according to an NFL source. He is visiting with the Titans on Tuesday.

Porter is best known for returning an interception for a touchdown against Manning in the Super Bowl in 201o. It sealed an upset win for the Saints over the Colts.

In Denver, Porter would likely replace Andre Goodman at right cornerback and play opposite Champ Bailey. Putting Porter on his side would likely be fine with Manning.

Oakland also had interest in Porter -- Oakland coach Dennis Allen coached Porter in New Orleans -- but those talks have stalled after the Raiders signed Ronald Bartell and Shawntae Spencer.

Brian Dawkins is inactive

December, 18, 2011
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DENVER -- The Denver Broncos will have to face the pass-happy New England Patriots without veteran safety Brian Dawkins. He is inactive with a neck injury that forced him to leave the win against Chicago last week.

Dawkins missed practice Wednesday and Thursday, but he did practice on a limited basis Friday. He is listed as questionable. Cornerback Andre' Goodman is active and is expected to play. He is listed as questionable.

Meanwhile, the Raiders will be without defensive tackle John Henderson, safety Michael Huff and running back Taiwan Jones on Sunday against Detroit. They were all game-time decisions.

Broncos' secondary getting healthier

December, 15, 2011
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The Denver Broncos received good injury news Thursday. Starting defensive backs Brian Dawkins (neck) and Andre Goodman (concussion) practiced on a limited basis Thursday after not practicing Wednesday. Both players were hurt Sunday.

Thus, barring a setback, they both might have a chance to play Sunday against pass-happy New England. Also, receiver Eddie Royal -- who missed the Chicago game with a concussion -- practiced fully Thursday.

In other AFC West news:

As expected, Oakland running back Darren McFadden (foot), running back Taiwan Jones (hamstring), receiver Jacoby Ford (foot), defensive tackle John Henderson (knee) and safety Michael Huff (hamstring) all missed their second day of practice this week. Barring a fast recovery, it seems like these players will be out Sunday against Detroit.

Carolina receiver Steve Smith doesn’t think Tim Tebow compares to Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton. Newton has been much more polished than Tebow, but Tebow’s team has been much more successful than Newton’s.

ESPN columnist Rick Reilly asks readers to take their pick, Tom Brady or Tebow.

The Raiders’ have announced Sunday’s game against Detroit is a sellout. It is the seventh time in seven home games this season that there won’t be a local television blackout. The Oakland Tribune reports this is the first time since the Raiders came to Oakland 16 years ago that they sold out more than six home games in a season.

Chargers’ linebackers Donald Butler (foot) and Takeo Spikes (back) and defensive end Jacques Cesaire (ankle) missed their second straight day of practice Thursday.

Wrap-up: Broncos 35, Vikings 32

December, 4, 2011
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A look at another thrilling Denver win, this time 35-32 over the Minnesota Vikings:

What it means: Denver is now tied with Oakland for first place in the AFC West at 7-5. Denver has won five straight games and has won six of quarterback Tim Tebow’s seven starts this season. The Broncos are a major factor in the AFC West playoff race after starting the season 1-4.

Tomorrow’s talker: Tebow is getting better as a passer. Denver -- which scored 28 points in the second half -- is still not comfortable enough to make Tebow a pure pocket passer, but he is making major strides. He completed 10 of 15 passes for 202 yards. He made several key completions and his passes continue to get more aesthetically pleasing. After running a record 22 times last week, he ran only four times for 13 yards

Winning close games: It was Denver’s third straight last-minute victory and the fourth since Tebow took over.

Thomas helping: Tebow is building a rapport with fellow 2010 first-round pick Demaryius Thomas. Thomas had four catches for 144 yards and the two nearly connected on a touchdown late in the game before Denver tied the score with a field goal. Eric Decker had been Tebow’s favorite target. He had 25 yards on two catches.

Defense comes through: The Vikings got their yardage, but Denver’s defense came up with three turnovers. An interception by cornerback Andre Goodman with less than two minutes to go set up the win. This was a hard-fought game by the Denver defense. It was on the field for 37 minutes, 51 seconds and nearly 22 minutes in the first half. But it buckled down when it needed to.

Haggan has big game: Denver veteran linebacker Mario Haggan had a terrific game as he spelled rookie star Von Miller, who was out with ligament damage to his thumb. Haggan had a team-high 12 tackles and an interception return for a score.

McGahee makes big runs: At the age of 30, Denver running back Willis McGahee continued to shine. He had 111 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, on 20 carries. Denver, the leading rushing team in the NFL, had 150 rushing yards on 32 carries.

What’s next: Denver hosts the Jay Cutler-less Bears next week as they hope to continue their unlikely march toward the playoffs.

Rapid Reaction: Broncos 17, Jets 13

November, 18, 2011
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DENVER -- The New York Jets got Tebow-ed, falling to the Denver Broncos, 17-13, in a stunning, last-minute collapse Thursday night. Broncos QB Tim Tebow led a 95-yard drive, scoring on a 20-yard run with 58 seconds left.

What it means: The Jets fell to 5-5 in the most unimaginable fashion, blowing leads of 10-3 and 13-10 in the fourth quarter. The Jets have serious issues -- a mistake-prone Mark Sanchez, injuries to their running backs and an offense that doesn’t have a clue.

Tebowmania: With only three full days to prepare for Tebow and the Broncos’ college-style offense, the Jets’ defense was stellar for 56 minutes. Then came an utter collapse. Tebow came to life, leading a 12-play, 95-yard drive. In Denver, they will call it The Drive II. He made plays with his feet, and occasionally with his arm. The Jets fell asleep on the game-winning plays, allowing Tebow to scramble -- untouched -- into the end zone.

It may have been the death knell for the Jets’ season.

Bad Mark -- again: Sanchez did it again. For the second straight week, he threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. This was a momentum-changing killer, a forced throw to Plaxico Burress that was picked by cornerback Andre Goodman. It made it 10-10. It was Sanchez’s third pick-six of the season.

It was another maddeningly inconsistent performance by Sanchez. He completed 11 straight passes at one point, but he missed a wide-open Dustin Keller in the end zone and made two clock-management errors -- one week after getting ripped by Rex Ryan for a botched timeout.

But say this for Sanchez: He’s one tough hombre. He took a beating in the second half, drilled twice by Denver pass rushers, but he managed to lead a 42-yard field goal drive for a 13-10 lead. Nevertheless, the Jets have to be concerned as they look forward.

Brutal special teams: This is supposed to be a strength, but the special teams were awful all night. Joe McKnight fumbled on a third-quarter kickoff return (his second lost fumble in five days), Nick Folk missed two field goal attempts (52 and 61 yards) and punter T.J. Conley shanked a 13-yarder. Give Folk credit; he rebounded to make a 45-yard field goal that could have been the game winner.

Painful injury: The Jets, already without the injured LaDainian Tomlinson (sprained knee), lost starting running back Shonn Greene (ribs) in the first quarter. Greene caught a 4-yard screen pass and landed on the ball as he hit the ground, grimacing in pain. It’s a familiar injury for Greene, who suffered a severe rib injury in the 2009 AFC Championship Game.

Makeshift backfield: Without Greene and Tomlinson, the backfield consisted of special-teams star Joe McKnight and rookie Bilal Powell, who made his NFL debut. That hurt the Jets’ pass protection because neither McKnight nor Powell is a good blocker.

Powell actually made the best bad play of the game -- yes, you read that correctly. On a second down from the Broncos’ 1, Powell fumbled in a crowd. It squirted across the goal line and left guard Matt Slauson pounced on it for the touchdown to give the Jets a 10-3 lead.

McKnight is an undisciplined runner, but he ran hard between the tackles and was effective on screen passes. The Jets aren’t a big screen offense, but they exploited the Broncos’ rush with well-timed screen passes.

Rare score: How fitting that the first touchdown in the ugliest of games was scored by a 325-pound guard from Nebraska. The way the Jets’ offense was playing, it wasn’t going to come from one of their skill-position players. Get this: Slauson’s TD was the first by a Jets offensive lineman since guard Randy Rasmussen in 1972.

All quiet on Revis Island: Just as he expected, Darrelle Revis didn’t get much action against the run-heavy Broncos. Best we can tell, he didn’t fall asleep.

What’s ahead: The Jets get a 10-day break before resuming against the Buffalo Bills in a home game. The Jets dominated the first meeting, 27-11.

Rapid Reaction: Broncos 17, Jets 13

November, 17, 2011
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DENVER – A look at a game in which the Tim Tebow legend grew.

What it means: Thanks to an incredible final drive led by Tebow, the Broncos are right in the AFC West mix. Denver has won four of its past five games since Tebow has taken over. It is now 5-5 and it served notice to division leader Oakland, which is 5-4 and needs to win at Minnesota on Sunday to remain alone in first place. The Chargers and Chiefs are both 4-5. Believe or not, folks, Denver is a legitimate threat in this division.

Tomorrow’s talker: Tebow came alive in the fourth quarter after playing terribly. Until Denver’s final drive, it had more points than completions. Tebow then led Denver 95 yards on 12 plays in 4 minutes, 50 seconds. Tebow scored the game-winning touchdown on a beautiful 20-yard scramble with 58 seconds left. Whether he is good or not for most of the game, Tebow is making Denver a winner.

Denver D better: The Broncos’ defense is much improved and deserves a lot of credit for this victory. Head coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Dennis Allen are doing nice work. This unit has long been a problem area for the Broncos, but it can keep them in games.

Miller time: Denver rookie linebacker Von Miller looked great, recording 1.5 sacks to push his season total to 9.5. He might challenge Jevon Kearse’s rookie sack record of 14.5 sacks, set in 1998.

Defensive scores: Andre Goodman’s interception return for a touchdown was Denver’s second pick-six this season. It had none during the past four seasons combined.

What’s next: Denver plays Nov. 27 at San Diego, which is 4-5 and has lost four in a row heading into its game Sunday at Chicago.

Camp Confidential: Denver Broncos

August, 17, 2011
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- For a franchise that was accused of turning stale a few years ago, the Denver Broncos have become pros at taking fresh approaches.

For the second time in three training camps, Denver has a new head coach. John Fox takes over after the disastrous 23-month Josh McDaniels regime. From 1995 to 2008, the Broncos were the picture of coaching constancy. It was the Mike Shanahan show. Everyone knew it.

But the Broncos have been in flux and have gone from one of the better-run organizations in the NFL to a team that is grasping for an identity. Denver hasn’t been to the playoffs since the 2005 season. It hasn’t had a winning record since 2006.

In comes Fox, who is experiencing a rebirth himself after spending the past nine seasons in Carolina. Fox’s biggest task in Denver is to restore normalcy after the rocky McDaniels era and rebuild a winner.

“There has been instability here, good, bad or indifferent, that’s just the way it has been,” said Fox, whose team will be on its sixth defensive coordinator (former New Orleans secondary coach Dennis Allen) in six seasons.

“We have to build our program here. But I think it can be done. There are good pieces here.”

Many Denver players have raved about Fox. They appreciate his professionalism, his structure and his attention to detail. They believe there is a plan in place, and they trust Fox’s experience. The players also seem to appreciate the fact that Fox is simply in Denver to coach. The front office is run by legendary Denver quarterback John Elway and general manager Brian Xanders. Both Shanahan and McDaniels made personnel decisions.

“I get a great feel for Coach Fox,” star cornerback Champ Bailey said. “He’s one of the better coaches I’ve been around ... I like it that he is focused on coaching us on the field. That’s where he wants to be.”

THREE HOT ISSUES

[+] EnlargeVon Miller
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireRookie Von Miller will need to play well right away if Denver's defense is going to improve this season.
1. Fix the defense. While the Tim Tebow-Kyle Orton competition has garnered much attention, the real key issue in Denver’s camp has been the defense. This unit was ranked No. 32 in the NFL last season and was generally awful in every major statistical category. Fox and his defensive staff have taken a hands-on approach to improve this group, which is a mix of veterans and youngsters.

If the reconstructed defensive front plays well and rookie linebacker Von Miller makes an instant impact, this group has a chance to improve quickly. It seems to be working early. Denver’s defense has been capable in camp and it looked solid against Dallas in the preseason opener Thursday. Injuries to defensive tackles Ty Warren (who signed to a two-year, $8 million deal) and Marcus Thomas create more uncertainty at a key spot for Denver. It needs to get help there by Kevin Vickerson, Brodrick Bunkley, Jeremy Jarmon and Derrick Harvey in the rest of the preseason. Warren could be out for a long period and Thomas will miss the rest of the preseason.

2. Clarity at quarterback: The Broncos’ camp has been about getting the first-team ready to go with Orton. There is no question Orton is the starter now. If the team struggles, Tebow could enter the picture, but players love playing with Orton and the team thinks he currently gives them the best chance to win now.

Of course, the lack of clarity was team-induced. It spent the immediate days after the lockout trying to trade Orton to Miami. After that fell through, Orton took control of the offense quickly and has given Denver no choice but to make him the starter, TebowMania be dammed.

3. Establish a ground game: Although Fox is a defensive-minded coach, he has a strict philosophy on offense. He believes in stuffing the ball down an opponent’s throat and killing the clock. Denver struggled to run the ball under McDaniels, and Fox said adding a veteran tailback was paramount.

The Broncos jumped on Willis McGahee when he was cut by the Ravens. Expect McGahee and third-year player Knowshon Moreno to combine for plenty of carries. They have worked well in camp, and they combined for 40 yards on six carries in the preseason opener at Dallas. This camp has been spent getting these two involved in the offense as much as possible.

ELVIS IS BACK IN THE BUILDING

The Broncos are raving about the play of Elvis Dumervil. After leading the NFL with 17 sacks in 2009 and getting a contract worthy of that performance, Dumervil tore a pectoral muscle in early August last year and missed the entire 2010 season.

There was concern that his rust and a move back to the 4-3 under Fox could hamper the smallish Dumervil. He flourished in McDaniels’ 3-4 system after being a solid player in Shanahan’s 4-3 defense. Dumervil beefed up to more than 260 pounds, and he‘s been impressive under Fox.

The Broncos expect Dumervil and Miller to become one of the better pass-rush tandems in the league.

RELYING ON THE ROOKIES

[+] EnlargeRahim Moore
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesThe Broncos will also be looking to rookie Rahim Moore to shore up Denver's secondary.
One of the most exciting aspects of this camp for Denver has been the play of its rookies. The Broncos thought they drafted well in April, and after three weeks, they are thrilled with what they see.

“I think we had an excellent draft,” Fox said.

Added Dumervil: “This is the best group of rookies I’ve seen here in awhile.”

Leading the way is Miller, who was the No. 2 overall draft pick. The Texas A&M product has been as advertised. Teammates rave about his speed, explosiveness and his ability to make plays. They expect instant success.

Second-round pick Rahim Moore is vying for a starting spot with Kyle McCarthy at safety and has shown he is ready for NFL play. Right tackle Orlando Franklin, middle linebacker Nate Irving, tight end Julius Thomas and safety Quentin Carter are all expected to be major contributors. This is exactly what this 4-12 team needed -- a solid group of youngsters to build around after a couple of shaky years of drafting by McDaniels.

OBSERVATION DECK

  • Safety Brian Dawkins may be turning 38 this year, but the Broncos are still getting a lot out of him. He works well with Fox’s staff, and his leadership has been uncanny during camp.
  • Defensive end Robert Ayers has been getting chances to break out in camp, but he has been slow to show progress. He was the No. 18 overall pick in the 2009 draft.
  • Receiver Brandon Lloyd has been slowed by swelling in his knee. Still, the team expects him to contribute. Lloyd had a breakout season in 2010 -- 77 catches for 1,448 yards.
  • The second-round draft class of 2009 has been a bust. Tight end Richard Quinn is hurt and could be the odd man out. Safety Darcel McBath has yet to develop, and cornerback Alphonso Smith (who Denver traded its 20101 first-round pick for) was shipped out to Detroit last year. This was supposed to be the nucleus of future success, and Denver hasn’t seen results.
  • The Broncos’ passing game struggled in red-zone and third-down situations. That has been a point of emphasis during this camp.
  • Veterans Joe Mays and Mario Haggan are competing to hold off Irving at middle linebacker.
  • Franklin has struggled in pass projection. Still, the team is committed to him.
  • Denver is excited about second-year receiver Eric Decker. Expect Decker to get a chance to contribute a lot.
  • The Broncos like what they have in new tight end Daniel Fells. He is solid as a receiver and as a blocker. He should help in both phases of the game.
  • Right cornerback Andre' Goodman has been steady, and the team is confident he can play well in 2011.
  • Second-year center J.D. Walton continues to improve, and he has shown strong leadership for a young player.

Antonio Gates is out

November, 22, 2010
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SAN DIEGO -- San Diego superstar tight end Antonio Gates will not play Monday night against Denver. It was determined he was unable to play effectively because of a foot injury.

It is the second straight game Gates will miss after playing in 94 straight games.

Mike Tolbert is expected to start at running back for San Diego. As expected, rookie running back Ryan Mathews is out with an ankle injury. He didn’t practice all week. Both Tolbert and Mathews have 382 rushing yards.

Receiver Legedu Naanee remains out with a hamstring injury. Patrick Crayton takes his place. Current No. 1 receiver Malcom Floyd is returning after missing several games with a hamstring injury.

Because of the injuries at tight end and running back, San Diego has signed Korry Sperry (tight end) and Curtis Brinkley (running back) off the practice squad. Both players are active Monday night. Backup tight end Kris Wilson is also inactive, so expect to see a lot of Randy McMichael in both phases of the offense.

For Denver, cornerback Andre Goodman (hip) is out as is linebacker Robert Ayers (foot). Ayers may be getting close to playing. Denver running back Laurence Maroney is inactive for the second straight game. He was acquired from New England in September for a fourth-round pick.

Because of a recent San Diego State game, there are big patches of rough grass at heading toward the East end zone.
  • Meanwhile, in other AFC West-related news, Oakland coach Tom Cable confirmed that starting defensive end Trevor Scott did tear the ACL in his knee and he is out for the season, as expected. He was hurt on a special teams play Sunday in a 35-3 loss at Pittsburgh.
  • The Buffalo Bills are unsure if linebacker Shawne Merriman will play the rest of the season because of an injury. Sound familiar, Chargers’ fans? Buffalo claimed him off waivers last month. He was cut in San Diego because he couldn’t stay healthy. Merriman is a free agent at the end of the season.
DENVER -- Kansas City rookie receiver/returner/running back Dexter McCluster is inactive for the third straight game because of an ankle injury.

The Chiefs are also without safeties Jon McGraw (knee) and Kendrick Lewis (hamstring). Donald Washington may be set to start with Eric Berry at safety. The Chiefs have not made that announcement yet. Linebacker Corey Mays is inactive for the first time this season.

Kansas City has signed safety Ricky Price from the practice squad. Linebacker Charlie Anderson was cut to make room for him.

For Denver, running back Laurence Maroney is inactive. Lance Ball, who can play special teams, is active. Denver traded a fourth-round draft pick for Maroney earlier this season. As expected, linebacker Robert Ayers and cornerback Andre' Goodman are inactive because of injuries.
Denver coach Josh McDaniels is usually in one of the most secretive coaches in the league when it comes to injuries. That’s why it is startling that he has already ruled out three defensive starters for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets.

McDaniels told reporters in Denver on Monday that safety Brian Dawkins (knee), right cornerback Andre Goodman (quadriceps) and outside linebacker Robert Ayers (undisclosed) will be out. Two backups -- safety Darcel McBath (ankle) and linebacker Wesley Woodyard (hamstring) -- are also out.

He didn’t say how long any of the players will be out. But let’s face it, if these five players were all ruled out six days before the game, the timetable could be lengthy for all of them. If there was a chance they could return soon, McDaniels wouldn’t make this call now.

McDaniels acknowledged the injuries, which have been hammering his team since the start of camp, are taking a toll.

"Certainly the injuries don't make it easy, but we've been dealing with that for quite some time now. The next guy's got to step up and play well," McDaniels said. "We've got to give them a good game plan. We might have to be creative with a few things that we do, but that's part of everyone's season. Everyone has to go through roster decisions and make their minds up on how to make up for players that can't play, and that's where we are right now."
DENVER –- Champ Bailey is in, Andre Goodman is out and Tim Tebow has been demoted, for the day at least.

Bailey will play Sunday against Indianapolis. He missed much of the week with a foot injury. He was on crutches after last week’s game. Goodman has a thigh injury he suffered last week. He tested his injury Sunday, but he was not ready to play. Rookie Perrish Cox is expected to play. Expect Colts quarterback Peyton Manning to test the fifth-round pick often.

Tebow is Denver’s third quarterback. Brady Quinn is the No. 2. Tebow beat out Quinn for the backup job late in the preseason and he was the No. 2 quarterback in the first two games. Tebow played sparingly in special packages in the opener and he didn’t play at all last week.

The likely reason for Tebow for being "demoted" is that Denver probably didn’t have any packages for him in the game plan Sunday. But it is clear, for at least this week, Denver thinks Quinn is more ready to take over for Kyle Orton if he gets hurts.

Other key Denver inactive players include running back Knowshon Moreno (hamstring), tackle Ryan Harris (right tackle) and rookie receiver Eric Decker. The Broncos stacked their active roster with defensive players, because of several injuries. They were no healthy defensive scratches for Denver on Sunday.
DENVER –- ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that Denver Broncos star left cornerback Champ Bailey will play Sunday against the pass-happy Indianapolis Colts.

Schefter reports right cornerback Andre Goodman will test his injured thigh in pregame warm-ups. Both players were listed as questionable on the injury report. They were limited in practice Friday after not working the two previous practice days.

Bailey injured his foot last week in a win against Seattle. Bailey was on crutches after the game.

Thus, Bailey has the tough task of going from crutches to facing Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne in a matter of a week. Tough duty, but I’m sure Denver would rather have a hobbled Bailey than no Bailey at all against the Colts. Rookie Perrish Cox will likely start for Goodman if he can’t play.
Knowshon Moreno will not get a chance to make up for a poor performance in Week 2.

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Moreno
The team has ruled him out of Sunday’s game against Indianapolis. The Denver Post reports he was injured Thursday in practice. Moreno’s name wasn’t on Thursday’s injury update released by the team. Moreno had 51 yards on 24 carries last week. He missed all of August with a hamstring injury.

Correll Buckhalter and newly acquired Laurence Maroney will handle the rushing load for the Broncos against the Colts. Maroney will be making his Denver debut after being traded from New England on Sept. 14.

The Broncos have been ravaged by injuries since camp, especially at running back. Buckhalter dealt with a back injury during the preseason, Maroney came over to Denver while nursing a groin injury and LenDale White was lost for the season with a leg injury.

Denver’s run game has not been able to take off yet, yet quarterback Kyle Orton has been outstanding and Denver, which is 1-1 and has scored 45 points, is surviving on the passing game. Denver has the No. 5 passing offense and No. 27 running offense after two games.

The run game will have to take off at some point to give the unit balance.

In other injury news, right tackle Ryan Harris will miss his third straight game with an ankle injury after being hurt in the preseason finale. The team is hopeful cornerback Champ Bailey (foot) and Andre Goodman (thigh) can play against the high-flying Colts on Sunday.

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