Effort under way to retain Warren


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Jan 22, 2006
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Effort under way to retain Warren
By Lee Rasizer, Rocky Mountain News
February 24, 2006

INDIANAPOLIS - The Denver Broncos acquired Gerard Warren at the scouting combine via trade last year.

Now they're trying to lock him up long term in similar surroundings.

General manager Ted Sundquist and salary-cap manager Mike Bluem had a dinner meeting Thursday night with Joel Segal, Warren's agent, in an attempt to forge a deal for the defensive tackle. It was the initial face-to-face meeting between the sides.

"We've got to do it sometime," Sundquist said as he proceeded to Segal's hotel near the RCA Dome. "This is the first time we've really had a chance to talk to Joel, and we'll get a sense of what his feelings are. I know things have been pretty positive with regards to parameters."

Warren started all 16 games last season and played more defensive snaps than any other Denver defensive lineman in their usual seven-man rotation.

He was an integral part of a run defense that allowed the second-fewest yards in the league, contributing 42 tackles, including 22 solo, while taking on consistent double teams to free up Broncos linebackers for stops.

Warren and offensive tackle Matt Lepsis are the two highest-priority pending free agents still unsigned.

Sundquist had yet to schedule a meeting with Lepsis' representative, Ethan Lock, but hoped to meet in person today.

With the Detroit Lions applying a franchise tag to Jeff Backus, perhaps only the Philadelphia Eagles' Jon Runyan is a higher-profile free agent than Lepsis at his position, and Lepsis likely will command some attention around the league, particularly from the Houston Texans, if he's set free March 3.

BACKUP PLAN: Denver carried only inexperienced Bradlee Van Pelt in reserve behind starting quarterback Jake Plummer last season, and while it might seem apparent that a veteran backup is necessary to push him, perhaps in free agency, that option might not materialize.

The feeling among the Broncos seems to be that Van Pelt could prop up the team for three to four games given its reliance on the run, and throwing substantial money at a retread veteran or former starter might be not be the best option.

Pat McPherson, the team's quarterbacks coach, doesn't make those decisions. But he stood firmly behind Van Pelt when asked about Van Pelt's preparedness as a potential fill-in starter.

"Myself, I feel pretty comfortable with him because I feel we'd be able to go into a game and know that he's going to work his butt off to get ready, play hard and do what it takes to help the team win the game," he said. "He's not Jake Plummer right now. And there probably are some other backup quarterbacks on other teams that may be better because they're more experienced. But I think he's got a lot of talent, and it's a matter of him getting to the point where everything meshes."

One point of emphasis during the coming months with Van Pelt will be fine-tuning his throwing mechanics to make sure his arm slot remains consistent on a day-to-day basis.

LOST BET: The loss in the AFC Championship Game cost the Broncos more than a Super Bowl berth. A couple of years back, strength coach Rich Tuten agreed to burn the conditioning sleds known as "The Beast" if the team reached the sport's ultimate game.

The device is used at the end of workout weeks in the off-season program and has caused not only legs burning from exhaustion, but physical illness.

"They had the kerosene ready. We were going to call the fire department and do it in the parking lot," Tuten said.

The players even caught on to Tuten's devious plan to build substitute sleds, which would be unveiled after the burning ceremony.

A clause was inserted into the deal that no new sleds could be built for a year after the old ones were disposed of.

The new off-season program begins April 3 - sleds and all.

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