Broncos’ struggling QB returns to ’08 springboard
AP Sports Writer
SEATTLE – Hey, Broncos fans. Don’t fret yet over Kyle Orton and the three interceptions in his Denver debut last week.
Perhaps the best thing that could happen to your struggling new quarterback right now will occur Saturday night: He’ll be in Seattle for a preseason game.
A year ago this week, Orton came to Qwest Field with the Bears while in a battle with Rex Grossman to become Chicago’s starter. He watched as the Seahawks blitz left Grossman with a cut below the bridge of his nose, with a wrap over his bruised throwing forearm – and without his job.
Seattle’s constant blitzing was rare for a preseason game, when simple defenses are the norm to keep players healthy and scouting eyes in the dark for the real season.
Orton replaced Grossman in the second quarter that night. He led Chicago on a crisp scoring drive during a two-minute drill late in the half, when Seattle was playing a more conventional, prevent defense. Two days later, the Bears named Orton as their starter. After the season, they and Denver swapped starting quarterbacks, with Jay Cutler now in Chicago.
Now Orton is about to face another vanilla defense in Seattle, during another second preseason game.
Orton also won’t have to worry about 2008 Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Trufant. He’s yet to practice during the Seahawks training camp because of a disc issue in his back, and he may not be ready for Seattle’s opener on Sept. 13.
Rookie outside linebacker Aaron Curry, Seattle’s dynamic fourth overall draft choice, who made plays all over the field in last weekend’s victory at San Diego, may be out, too. Curry has been sidelined since straining his groin Tuesday night.
That will soften a Seattle defense that ranked last in the NFL in passing yards allowed in 2008 and is currently remaking itself.
“We have a lot to work on,” said new Seahawks coach Jim Mora, who is planning to play his starters through most if not all the first half against Denver. “Thank God we have three more preseason games.”
So Orton, who is 21-12 as a starter in the NFL, seemingly has a prime opportunity to rebound from last week’s horrible night in San Francisco. Denver’s starters could play into the second half Saturday.
“I’m not worried about it,” Orton said when asked about the possibility of losing the starting job. “I’ve got a lot of confidence in me, and my team has a lot of confidence in me.”
That includes Denver’s Josh McDaniels, who like Mora is in his first season running his team.
“I feel very confident where we’re at,” McDaniels said of his new starter’s alarming debut.
Plus, the Broncos coach has other issues.
Angry wide receiver Brandon Marshall may be benched in Seattle after spending this week on the scout team.
Marshall is upset with the Broncos over their refusal to redo his contract or trade him and with their handling of his acquittal on battery charges last week, when players were told by a staffer not to say they were happy for him.
McDaniels said he would meet with his staff before Saturday to determine whether Marshall, who missed the preseason opener last week while attending his court case in Atlanta, would play, or if safety Brian Dawkins would make his Broncos debut.
Dawkins, who joined Denver this offseason after 14 years in Philadelphia, returned to practice this week with a club on his right hand, which was surgically repaired a couple of weeks ago.
The Seahawks will be without Walter Jones, the nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle who had his second surgery in eight months on his left knee Thursday. Usual right tackle Sean Locklear is starting for Jones, with Ray Willis at right tackle. The focus on Seattle’s offense will be at right guard, where Mansfield Wrotto will start but rookie second-round pick Max Unger is pushing for a job.
Seahawks starting running back Julius Jones practiced sporadically this week and may not play. Fellow running back T.J. Duckett didn’t practice much after sustaining a concussion last weekend. And veteran kicker Olindo Mare was scratched in San Diego because of a sore kicking knee. He is iffy for Saturday, cooling a summer competition with 2008 draft pick Brandon Coutu.
AP Sports Writer Arnie Stapleton in Englewood, Colo., contributed to this report.
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