Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan occasionally is portrayed as a man with ice water in his veins in his dealings with players. Bubby Brister was just one example. There have been a few others. Terrell Davis hasn't gotten the same treatment, but it doesn't mean he has a long-term future in Denver.
Shanahan deserves some credit for handling Davis with perfect diplomacy. Broncos sources say he never expected Davis to return to his prior form, but he gave the running back every benefit of the doubt when the season opened. The coach felt he owed the ex-MVP that much.
|Terrell Davis' days in Denver may be numbered.|
Now it's a different story. Shanahan was hardly shocked when Davis needed more knee surgery last week. This time, Davis should not expect to be handed his old job back as the team's featured running back.
Davis is expected to be out for four to six weeks. He'd like to come back sooner, but Shanahan will go the conservative route because he can afford to with Mike Anderson and Olandis Gary in the fold. Davis can't afford a lengthier absence because he has almost $3 million in make-back incentives tied to carries and rushing totals after he restructured his contract this summer.
Anderson got the start against Arizona but Gary was more productive. Shanahan probably will go with the hot hand until one settles in as the obvious choice, providing it becomes obvious. Davis will get another shot only if injuries to Anderson and Gary reopen the door.
Do not expect Davis to return in 2002 as a Bronco. Third-string running backs who can't play special teams don't have a long shelf life, and some league scouts wonder whether he will last the remainder of this season. No word on that yet.