Bron­cos try to ex­tend late surge vs. Ben­gals

Lexington Herald-Leader (Sunday) - - Sports - BY JOE KAY

A.J. Green has a col­lec­tion of sto­ries about quar­ter­back Jeff Driskel’s ath­letic ex­ploits, such as the way he can drib­ble be­tween his legs and dunk.

Or out­run team­mates. Or play mul­ti­ple po­si­tions in prac­tice.

Green sug­gested that Driskel might be the best all-around ath­lete on the Ben­gals.

“Nice,” Driskel said in re­sponse. “But I don’t know about that.”

Ev­ery­body will find out about Driskel on Sun­day at Paul Brown Sta­dium when he makes his first ca­reer start against the Den­ver Bron­cos (5-6), a matchup of teams headed in op­po­site di­rec­tions as the fi­nal month of the sea­son ap­proaches.

The third-year vet­eran is fill­ing in the rest of the way af­ter Andy Dal­ton in­jured the thumb on his pass­ing hand.

The reel­ing Ben­gals (5-6) have lost five of six be­cause of sig­nif­i­cant in­juries and break­downs on of­fense, de­fense and spe­cial teams. They got steam­rolled at home by the lowly Browns last Sun­day, with Dal­ton hurt­ing his thumb while try­ing to re­cover a fum­ble.

It’s up to the backup quar­ter­back to keep the Ben­gals’ slim hopes alive.

“Jeff is the most ath­letic guy on our team,” said Green, who ex­pects to play Sun­day af­ter miss­ing three games with a toe in­jury. “He’s a guy who can play any po­si­tion, has a strong arm, very smart. My job is to go out there and make his job easy.”

Al­though the teams have iden­ti­cal records, they’re on to­tally dif­fer­ent tra­jec­to­ries .

The Bron­cos are com­ing off a 23-22 win over the Charg­ers in Los An­ge­les and a 24-17 home vic­tory over the AFC North-lead­ing Steel­ers . They seemed all but elim­i­nated af­ter a 3-6 start, but have been given a se­cond – and fi­nal – chance to sal­vage their sea­son.

A win on Sun­day is manda­tory for a team that’s start­ing to feel it can still ac­com­plish big things.

“You kind of want guys to walk with their chest out, right?” Bron­cos re­ceiver Em­manuel San­ders said. “But at the same time, you’ve got to have per­spec­tive. There’s a dif­fer­ence be­tween con­fi­dence and ar­ro­gance.”

Some things to watch on Sun­day:

Care­ful Keenum: Case Keenum was picked off 11 times in the first eight games but hasn’t thrown an in­ter­cep­tion in the past three, a thread in the Bron­cos’ re­vival. Keenum is get­ting more com­fort­able, and it’s rub­bing off on the rest of the of­fense. He faces the NFL’s worst de­fense on Sun­day. Baker May­field threw for four touch­downs with­out an in­ter­cep­tion in Cleve­land’s 35-20 win last week at Paul Brown Sta­dium. Keenum’s goal is to keep up the trend.

“I’m throw­ing it to our guys, not throw­ing it to the other team,” Keenum said. “Who knew?”

Keep ram­bling: Bron­cos run­ning back Phillip Lind­say ranks se­cond among NFL rook­ies with 780 yards rush­ing. Clin­ton Por­tis set the club record for yards rush­ing by a rookie with 1,508 in 2002. Lind­say has 967 yards from scrim­mage, leav­ing him on the verge of be­com­ing the eighth Bron­cos rookie with 1,000 in a sea­son and the first since Know­shon Moreno had 1,160 in 2009.

Driskel’s de­but: Af­ter Dal­ton left the game last Sun­day with his thumb in­jury, Driskel threw his first NFL touch­down pass and ran for an­other score. He had prob­lems get­ting the of­fense on the same page – five false-start penal­ties in the fourth quar­ter alone.

Some rust was ex­pected with a quar­ter­back who hadn’t worked with the start­ing of­fense all sea­son. The big­gest chal­lenge will be stay­ing calm enough to keep ev­ery­thing un­der con­trol.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.