|RB Henry eager to make debut with Broncos against former team|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 06 September 2007 11:44|
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -There was a time not long ago when Travis Henry couldn't get out of Buffalo fast enough.|
These days, the former Bills star can't wait to get back now that he's taken over the starting job in Denver.
``It's in my mind, but I'm not trying to get overexcited,'' said Henry, referring to the Broncos opening their regular season at the Bills on Sunday.
It won't be easy holding him back.
Two years since the Bills granted his trade demand, and after enjoying a comeback-of-the-year caliber season with Tennessee in 2006, Henry has landed squarely on his feet. This offseason, he joined the NFL's premier running back factory, a rush-happy Broncos team that's had four different players in four years enjoy 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
What better place than these familiar surroundings for Henry to make his debut - and a mere nine months since he had 135 yards rushing in the Titans' 30-29 victory at Buffalo.
``This year I'm pumped just to be a Bronco and to play our first game,'' Henry said. ``I wanted a fresh start, and I did that. The rest is history.''
If recent history is a gauge, Buffalo will have an even more difficult time containing Henry. The Bills' defense was porous last year, allowing 141 yards rushing a game, and doesn't look to be any stouter now.
It's a young unit that lost three veteran starters and will feature four regulars with less than two years NFL experience, including rookie middle linebacker Paul Posluszny taking over for London Fletcher, who's now with Washington.
Coach Dick Jauron has not been shy in raising red flags when discussing his expectations.
``I believe in our people, but that being said, I don't think there's anybody in this room that's not aware of how young this football team is,'' Jauron said. ``We have a lot of questions to answer, there's no doubt about that.''
The Bills might also have trouble defending the pass. Besides losing star cornerback Nate Clements to free agency, Buffalo has no experienced depth at defensive end behind starters Aaron Schobel and Chris Kelsay.
The ranks are depleted because Ryan Denney is out indefinitely with a broken foot, while Anthony Hargrove is serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
``It'll be a bit of a gut-check,'' said Schobel, who had a career-high 14 sacks last year. ``It's going to be exciting and at the same time I'm going to be a little nervous. But I expect good things.''
The Broncos have questions, too, and also are attempting to put aside a tragic offseason in which cornerback Darrent Williams was killed in a drive-by shooting on New Year's Day, then backup running back Damien Nash died two months later when he collapsed following a charity basketball game.
The Broncos will honor the players by wearing both of their numbers - 27 and 29 - on their uniforms this season.
``It's more embracing their memory and hopefully playing well so people can keep on talking about these guys that were so important to our family,'' coach Mike Shanahan said. ``To lose them at the age of 24 is something you don't understand, but something that we're pushing through.''
Denver is attempting to retool on the fly after a 9-7 finish, disappointing because the team missed the playoffs for the first time in four years.
Jay Cutler, the Broncos' 2006 first-round draft pick, is the quarterback after he went 2-3 while starting the final five games last season.
Henry should alleviate some of the load, and the Broncos hope newly signed tight end Daniel Graham will add another dimension to their passing game. It helps, too, that Cutler had a complete offseason to become acquainted with the offense.
Denver's defense is an unknown entering its first season under new coordinator Jim Bates. The line has been completely revamped, and will feature a late newcomer after the Broncos signed defensive end Simeon Rice this week.
Shanahan was uncertain if Rice would play against Buffalo.
One thing's certain, the Broncos defensive backfield is set, featuring All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey, who will be joined by Dre' Bly, acquired in a trade with Detroit. It's a tandem that should allow the Broncos to cheat against the run or in pressuring Bills quarterback J.P. Losman.
Losman shrugged off questions whether the Broncos' stellar defensive backfield will make him think twice about going to star receiver Lee Evans.
``If they want to play one-on-one with him, we are going to take our chances,'' Losman said. ``That's how we all feel. We are very, very confident.''
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