Walker: 1,600 yards a good benchmark

Javon Walker accumulated 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns last season while coming off two knee surgeries and joining a new offense that stumbled along for much of the season behind weak-armed Jake Plummer.

With Jay Cutler under center, a cast of young, fast receivers all around, a year under his belt in Mike Shanahan's system and another year removed from the operating room, Walker figures he can have a monster season.

"I mean, obviously when healthy in Green Bay, (I was) putting up 1,400" yards, Walker said. "So, now back fully healthy ... I could easily be 1,500 or 1,600."

Walker's high was 1,382 yards and 12 TDs in 2004, when he went to the Pro Bowl.

"Like I've always said, given the opportunity, the sky's the limit," Walker said. "We've got a group of receivers where each and every one of us can get each other open."

With Rod Smith still recovering from offseason hip surgery, second-year speedster Brandon Marshall will start at split end with Walker moving over to flanker and newcomer Brandon Stokley lining up in the slot.

"Nobody out there as far as in the NFL knows what Brandon can do on Sundays, but we know because we see him every day in practice," Walker said.

"So, I'm excited having a guy like that on the other side, along with Stokley in the slot. I've always said, you're only as good as the other guy on the other side of you. And we feel like if we're all on the field, there's not too many teams that can match up 1-on-1 with each one of us."

The return of lineman Matt Lepsis and the addition of Travis Henry in the backfield should open up the passing game for the Broncos this season, too.

"He's been putting up numbers each and every year he's been out there," Walker said. "You can what he did last year (in Tennessee) ... on a team that really wasn't a contender but he still put up numbers, You throw him in this offense with the weapons all around him, he's just going to make us better."

YOUNG'S GOALS: Selvin Young has a new set of goals now that he's accomplished his No. 1 aim of training camp: making the Denver Broncos roster as a long-shot undrafted rookie free agent.

Like the three dozen goals on his list during camp, the former University of Texas star is keeping these to himself. But you can bet they include trotting into the end zone on occasion.

"I take that pretty serious about making a plan and setting a path that I want to go," Young said. "There are going to be some things that are real tough but in my eyes I don't see that I can't do it."

Young rocketed up the depth chart over the final 10 days of camp, supplanting Mike Bell as Travis Henry's primary backup. Bell is now competing with Cecil Sapp and Paul Smith to be the Broncos' starting fullback.

Young was the least surprised by his sudden rise to fame.

"It's pretty much the story of my entire life. I set goals and see them and attack them," Young said.

If past patterns are any indication, coach Mike Shanahan will want his workhorse running back to get 80 percent of the carries, leaving Young as a change-of-pace back getting most of the other 20 percent.

Young, though, said he's ready to step in as the starter should something happen to Henry, who sprained his left knee in the second preseason game.

"Without a doubt. That's basically what my job is, to be ready to go," Young said. "For every snap of the game and for every snap that I don't take, I should have been ready to go and take that snap. So, in my mind, that's exactly what I want to do. I'm just going to continue to each and every play keep my head in the game and be ready for the game as if I am taking that particular snap.

"And when I do come in, I won't have any drop-off or fallback."

Young figures he missed so much time with injuries in college that his body doesn't have the wear and tear of other players his age.

Young said the Broncos' brass needn't worry about him getting the jitters Sunday at Buffalo, either.

"I'm a guy that's kind of collected. I don't allow my emotions to get me, but I do allow them to be seen in the way I play," Young said. "I get a little amped up. You can see a little aggression in my eyes, in my swagger. But it helps me play hard. I try to keep those emotions bottled up."

Young said he's out to prove he was the best back coming out of college this year even though he didn't get drafted. He'll take baby steps toward that goal being Henry's backup. But easing into the NFL is all in the big plan, he said.

"I mean, that's going to be a plus for me in my career as I get started early, you know, not going to have to take every snap of the game," he said.

DEFENSIVE QUESTIONS: Simeon Rice adds instant credibility to Denver's young defensive line, but safety Nick Ferguson said the Broncos' defense isn't nearly in the dire shape it's been portrayed since the starting unit allowed 44 points and nearly 600 yards in roughly six quarters in the preseason.

The Broncos played vanilla defense, with basic fronts and coverages so coach Mike Shanahan and new defensive boss Jim Bates could get an accurate read on so many new players.

That plan, while it led to some bad plays and bad press, could pay dividends Sunday at Buffalo, Ferguson suggested.

"People have said we didn't do a great job in the preseason, but I think we did OK with some of the basic package that we were running, but also, what does it give Buffalo actually an opportunity to look at? Not too much," Ferguson said. "So, with having so many changes with our personnel, that means that you could have to go back and do more research on those individuals now playing in our defense.

"So, that's more work for them because with different guys in our scheme, you really don't know how do we prepare for this particular guy because he hasn't been in the scheme before, he hasn't played this technique. So, it's a little different."

Unlike some teams that showed plenty of their playbook in the preseason, coach Mike Shanahan was content to test his players in practice but show very little during the exhibition games.

"It all depends on how it works out at the end, whether it becomes a pro or a con," Ferguson said.

While Denver's opponents don't know what to expect from the Broncos defense, Ferguson said there's no uncertainty at team headquarters about this unit's caliber.

"We already know, a heck of a defense," Ferguson said. "That's the only way to sum it up. There's no in-between."


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