DENVER -- After holding out the first three days of Denver Broncos training camp because of a contract dispute, running back
Tatum Bell broke his right middle finger during afternoon practice
Coach Mike Shanahan said Bell smacked his hand on somebody's
helmet during a drill.
"It looks like it is a pretty good fracture," he said.
Shanahan said he hopes Bell will be able to practice next week,
but he won't be sure until doctors examine the finger.
"It all depends on how bad it is. You never know if they are
going to have pins put in it, or do they just set it in a splint
and how long (is it in a splint)? These are questions I can't
answer at this time," he said.
Bell trotted out to lead stretches in his first practice this
morning with the Denver Broncos and was promptly booed by his
The rookie knew it was mostly in jest, but he also understands
there was some truth behind it.
"It killed me every day just seeing the news and reading
newspapers," Bell said Saturday. "While my teammates were
grinding it out, I'm still home in the bed."
The Broncos drafted Bell out of Oklahoma State in the second
round of this year's draft with the hopes he can fill the void left
by Clinton Portis, who was traded to Washington after rushing for
over 1,500 yards his first two seasons.
Bell looked good in offseason workouts and minicamps and the
Broncos were anxious to see what he could do in live action once
training camp started. Bell made them wait a little longer than
they would have liked.
With his agent haggling over a signing bonus, Bell ended up
becoming the longest rookie holdout in Shanahan's 10 years as
Denver's coach. The impasse ended late Friday, when Bell agreed to
a five-year deal worth close to $4 million.
"Anytime you miss the first three days, you set yourself
back," Shanahan said. "The advantage is we've had more time with
the rookies this year than we ever had in the past, so that's a
plus for him. But he's missed a lot and there's nothing like
Bell didn't get to do much in his first workout, spending most
of the time doing drills and working with the third and fourth
teams. He did give a flash of the quickness that led the Broncos to
draft him, drawing cheers from the fans at Invesco Field after
bursting through a hole off right tackle.
"We've got a number of people competing for the position, so it
puts him behind," Shanahan said. "I'm glad he's in here now
rather than holding out for a week or so and then it's almost
impossible to get back."
It might take a little while to get back into Shanahan's good
graces as well.
The coach didn't hide his frustration when Bell missed the first
day of camp and it only grew worse with each passing day.
"I already knew he wasn't going to be pleased, so throughout
the whole process I told my agent to get everything done so I can
get into camp," Bell said. "Mike was all business when we had our
talk. He told me to put everything behind me and to move forward."
Notes: Several thousands fans showed up for the Broncos' first
workout at Invesco Field, but not all were there to support the
home team. A pair of men standing along a rail in the middle of the
lower section kept yelling derogatory comments at the players at
the end of practice and were eventually led out by security to the
cheers of the fans who stuck around to get autographs. ... S John
Lynch gave the fans a glimpse of why the Broncos signed him in the
offseason, laying out rookie wide receiver Darius Watts with a hard
hit along the sideline that led to the loudest cheers of the day.
... Rookie CB Jeremy LeSueur, a third-round pick out of Michigan,
was held out of practice because of a sore hip. CB Scott Turner
also was in street clothes and had a wrap on his left knee.