ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) -Two weeks ago, Selvin Young was buried deep in the Broncos' depth chart. Now, he's primed to join the long list of out-of-nowhere running backs to make their mark in Denver.
Injuries to starter Travis Henry (knee) and backup Mike Bell (hip) at Dallas two weeks ago opened the door for Young, and the undrafted free agent from the University of Texas burst right through it with dazzling performances in the final two exhibition games.
Young again was singled out by coach Mike Shanahan after his 12-yard touchdown run in Denver's 21-3 win over Arizona in his final audition for a roster spot Thursday night.
Bell returned from a hip injury a week earlier than expected but was moved to fullback along with Cecil Sapp against the Cardinals while Young started and shared snaps with Andre Ball, who scored twice.
Young led the Broncos in rushing in the preseason, gaining 167 yards on 34 carries for a 4.9-yard average and scoring two touchdowns.
He's followed in the footsteps of Bell, an undrafted rookie last year who was the surprise of camp by leapfrogging a bunch of veterans and eventually settling into a backup role behind Tatum Bell, where he rushed for 677 yards and eight touchdowns.
His move to fullback Thursday night - along with Young's performance at tailback - might portend a different role for Bell this season - or maybe even his release when rosters are set Saturday.
Young, whose college career was derailed by injuries, including a shattered right ankle in 2004, is as healthy as he's ever been and showed a burst that has the Broncos re-examining their thoughts about who will spell Henry.
So do the Broncos, who believe they've unearthed yet another gem that everybody else passed over. That long list includes sixth-round pick Terrell Davis in 1995, Olandis Gary, Reuben Droughns and Bell.
``It's good that I wasn't drafted. I wouldn't be here right now if I was,'' Young said. ``I always knew that everything was going to work out for me just fine in the future. I was always just waiting for the moment when I could feel good.''
And that's been a long time coming.
Dogged by injuries throughout his five years at Texas, Young's phone never rang on draft weekend, so, he signed as a free agent with the running-rich Broncos, in part, he said, because he knew he'd get a fair shake in Denver.
He didn't leave his bravado at the border, either.
``Of course, I felt like I was the best running back coming out of this draft,'' Young said. ``But I got my whole entire career to prove that and not let someone else decide by picking people who's that guy.''
Young wrote out a list of 35 goals when he got to Denver, things like ``be coaching every day, finishing every run, never leaving a yard on the field.''
``I've been checking them off pretty steadily without any setbacks so far,'' he said. ``I had a feeling if I were able to accomplish every goal that without a doubt I would be able to make the team, and I don't have any blank spots on my goals.''
He also is free of pain for the first time since his senior year in high school.
``I had more fun than I've had playing football in the last five years. I'm healthy, I can run, I can do things on the field without being hampered by injuries,'' he said. ``It feels good. It almost feels like I'm starting football all over again.''
And yet, Young insists even the Broncos don't realize all the talents he brings to their backfield.
``Not by far. I feel like I've got great hands, I feel like I would be able to stretch some defenses out of the backfield as well as running the football. That's another dimension to the game that I can't wait to showcase. I have some return skills as well,'' Young said.
``I feel like I'm a football player. Whatever it is, Xs and Os, I can get it done.''
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