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Sacking Negativity

Posted Aug 5, 2010

Despite several injuries early in training camp, including the loss of Elvis Dumervil, the Broncos are staying positive moving forward.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Less than a week into training camp, a rash of injuries could have the Broncos bemoaning their poor luck.

News that Elvis Dumervil's pectoral injury will sideline the NFL's reigning sack leader for an undetermined period of time levied the latest blow to the Broncos' health.

But Head Coach Josh McDaniels stood behind a podium in the Dove Valley interview room this afternoon and made his point clear: There's still a lot of football season left.

"We’re not going to sit here and feel sorry for us," McDaniels said in the pre-practice media session. "We’re going to get ready to play and we’ve got a good football team in that locker room.”

In five days of workouts, the Broncos have already seen their top two running backs sidelined and lost two young players to injured reserve (Josh Barrett and Kenny McKinley), in addition to Dumervil's injury, which was sustained during a one-on-one pass rushing drill Wednesday evening.

McDaniels said regardless of outcome his team's season won't be remembered for the players lost to injury, but rather for final record. That means it's up to his squad to pull together and try to fill in the gaps best they can.

"We're not going to look at it as the glass is half empty," McDaniels said. "We're going to look at it the other direction. Hopefully, we'll have (Dumervil) back at some point, but we have a lot of players in the locker room who are going to have to combine their efforts to try to do some things that he was responsible for while he's gone."

McDaniels would not speculate on specific roster moves to counter Dumervil's injury as the team and Dumervil have not yet decided on the best plan to treat it, but he did express optimism Broncos have stockpiled enough talent to ease the loss. While the team is disappointed to lose their star who recently signed a long-term extension to stay in the Mile High City, McDaniels said they have time and options going forward.

"We’ve got some other flexibility built into our team," McDaniels said, "so we’ll kind of take inventory of exactly where we’re at and what we need to do and what we think is best.”

The second-year head coach pointed to several in-house options that might prove valuable going forward.

First, he mentioned Jarvis Moss -- the former first-round pick who has garnered praise for his rededication to football and recent resurgence.

Dumervil's decision to train at home in Miami this offseason gave Moss plenty of opportunity to run with the first unit during OTAs. The Florida product took advantage by earning offseason championship status, as voted by his teammates.

"When there are opportunities in front of you like this, you can’t let them pass," said Moss, who did not register a tackle in seven games last season. "You can’t let a day go by without you feeling like you didn’t give it your all before you laid down at nighttime."

McDaniels also said the team has the option to use Mario Haggan, who has moved to inside linebacker this offseason, on the outside. Haggan finished last season with a career-high 55 tackles while starting the first 16 games of his seven-year career at outside linebacker opposite Dumervil.

Heading into his eighth season, McDaniels pointed to that versatility as a major advantage.

After Thursday's workout, Haggan said he prayed Wednesday night that Dumervil's injury would not be serious and that he is adapting well to being the "quarterback of the defense" from his new position.

But the 2009 team captain is fully ready to put his squad first.

"Right now, I'm just going where they want me," said Haggan. "I think I have the ability to contribute -- inside and out."

The team's revamped defensive line, which features three new additions who have a combined 28 years of NFL experience, also may be a factor.

The arrivals of Justin Bannan, Jarvis Green and Jamal Williams, who participated in his first training camp practice today after coming off the Active/PUP list, give defensive coordinator Wink Martindale flexibility. McDaniels said the team could use four down linemen and three linebackers at times, though he doesn’t anticipate a complete switch from the 3-4 scheme instituted last season.

In total, the defense hopes a combination of that depth will help offset the absence of Dumervil, who earned first-team All-Pro honors in a breakout 2009 campaign.

"You can’t replace him with one person," said Robert Ayers, who had been participating with the first team defense opposite Dumervil in training camp. "Whether I come out and get 20 sacks, it’s not going to matter because my 20 sacks would be even more with him. You’re never going to replace a guy that you lose. We're going to keep working."

Despite the injuries that have hit the practice field in recent days, the front office has stayed busy trying to improve. The team added running back LenDale White on Wednesday and signed wide receivers Patrick Carter and Britt Davis today.

Those moves reflect the attitude that McDaniels preached during his interview session. Rather than letting their training camp be defined by its losses, McDaniels said the team will use them as motivation going forward.

Haggan, for one, has fully embraced that mindset.

"I'm a firm believer in what the Lord brings and that everything happens for a reason," Haggan said. "Maybe it's an opportunity for Jarvis to stand up and keep his confidence and rebuild his career. Maybe it's the opportunity for some other guys to shuffle around and show what they can do."