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Thursday, October 16, 2003
Updated: October 17, 12:03 PM ET
Broncos agree: Stopping Moss a tall order

ESPN

DENVER -- On Sunday, Denver Broncos cornerback Lenny Walls expects to see a lot of Minnesota receiver Randy Moss, a player he calls "the biggest big-play guy in the game."

Walls will draw the primary assignment of defending Moss for one reason: He stands 6-foot-4, as does Moss.

The Broncos hope the size matchup will negate the height and jumping advantage that Moss enjoys over most cornerbacks.

What makes Moss such a feared, big-play receiver?

"First of all, he's probably the fastest receiver in the league," Walls said Thursday. "He's very athletic. He can jump. When guys are in great position to make a play, he still often outjumps them. He's so good at controlling his body and making the catch.

"Whether he's running by you or jumping over you, he gets the job done. It's hard to stop that kind of talent unless you're really focused on him and play well."

Other Bronco defensive backs agree that defending Moss is a tall order.

"The guy is a phenomenal player," cornerback Kelly Herndon said. "He's 6-4 with speed, and he uses his height and jumping ability. He's good at using his body, doing a little pushing and sometimes getting away with it."

Safety Kenoy Kennedy said few defensive schemes have been successful at stopping Moss.

"I've seen guys try to box him out, some guys try to hit him," Kennedy said. "I've seen guys try to do everything, and he still finds ways to make the spectacular catch.

"I haven't seen anything that works. You could rush one guy and drop 10 into coverage on him, but I don't know if even that would work."

Safety Nick Ferguson said the goal should be to "try to minimize the big plays that he makes. That's all you can do because he's Randy Moss. He has made big plays against great DBs, against great defenses. You have to try to contain him. You're not going to stop everything that he does."

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^BACKING BEUERLEIN:@ Tight end Shannon Sharpe is convinced there will be no dropoff when Steve Beuerlein replaces Jake Plummer at quarterback for the next few games.

When he learned that Plummer will be sidelined about four weeks with a broken left foot, Sharpe said, "Obviously, I was shocked, disappointed. But that's a part of the NFL. Beuerlein is going to play well for us and we're going to play well around Beuerlein. Every guy on this football team is here for a reason."

Sharpe said Plummer's running and scrambling ability "gives us a dimension that Beuerlein doesn't. Steve is more of a pocket passer. But I know Ed (McCaffrey), Rod (Smith), Ashley (Lelie) and myself are going to pick up our play. Clinton Portis and Mike Anderson are going to pick up their play. We'll be fine."

He noted that Minnesota backup Gus Frerotte played well while replacing injured starter Daunte Culpepper the last two games and that the Broncos' Bubby Brister filled in capably for an injured John Elway in 1998.

"It would be different if the guy was a rookie or first-year player," Sharpe said. "But Steve has been in this league for 17 years, and he's been a starter for four or five different teams.

"It doesn't matter the position. We've changed quarterbacks, we've changed receivers, we've changed running backs. We still end up in the top three or top five in offense. We find ways, we find guys to get the job done. I don't think this will be any exception."

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^INJURY UPDATE:@ Center Tom Nalen, who was held out of practice on Wednesday to give his sprained ankle a rest, rejoined workouts Thursday.

Coach Mike Shanahan said safety Kenoy Kennedy appeared recovered from his sprained ankle and likely will start on Sunday in Minnesota. Kennedy has missed the last three games, with Nick Ferguson starting in his place.