Pro Bowl shot further sullies safety's rep


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Jan 22, 2006
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Pro Bowl shot further sullies safety's rep
By Bill Williamson
Denver Post Staff Writer

Some people inside the Broncos organization and close to receiver Rod Smith aren't thrilled with Cowboys safety Roy Williams.

In the final seconds of the Pro Bowl last Sunday, Williams came in late after a play and hammered Smith, who was on the turf after failing to catch a pass. The ball was out of the play and Smith was not in a position to protect himself. Yet, Williams slammed into Smith's back. Smith's helmet was twisted and he received a nasty welt under his eye that required stitches. After the game, Smith didn't even know who hit him.

Still, many couldn't understand why Williams would make such a play, especially in the Pro Bowl. He has a reputation as an overly aggressive player; this won't help it.

The NFL outlawed his "horse collar" tackles last spring. After a Broncos victory in Dallas on Thanksgiving, many Denver players complained about a horse-collar style tackle Williams made on tight end Jeb Putzier that he wasn't penalized for.

This latest hit on Smith will not win Williams any more friends in Denver.


There's a chance the Broncos will begin the season under the prime-time lights of a Thursday night game in Pittsburgh. Continuing a recent NFL tradition, the defending Super Bowl champions are expected to open the season, on Thursday, Sept. 7.

It's usually a high-profile game, and an AFC championship rematch qualifies. Few would be more enticing. The Steelers' other opponents this season are AFC North division teams Cincinnati, Cleveland and Baltimore, plus Miami, Kansas City, New Orleans and Tampa Bay. Last year, the Thursday night opener - Randy Moss in his Raiders debut at Super Bowl champion New England - was announced at the NFL owners meetings in March.


Word at the Pro Bowl was if Denver doesn't finalize a new deal for tackle Matt Lepsis, the Texans may make a run at him.

Houston's interest would make sense. New coach Gary Kubiak coached Lepsis his entire NFL career in Denver and the Texans desperately need offensive linemen. Many believe the key to quarterback David Carr's improvement will be protection - something he has never had. Lepsis would be a great start.

The former Colorado standout hails from Texas, so the attraction could be strong. Still, Denver will work hard to keep him. But if Lepsis hits the open market, don't be surprised if the Texans push hard for him.


There's concern about Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's attitude. Some are worried his early success could affect his work ethic.

Roethlisberger, 23, is the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl. League insiders wonder if Steelers coach Bill Cowher will be able to get him to realize he still must improve despite the adulation he's received after winning the title.

Many scouts believe Roethlisberger needs to work on several aspects of his game before he can be considered an elite quarterback.

He needs to work on accuracy and consistency. Rarely has he taken over games, and he struggled much of the Super Bowl. But will he be willing to work to get better after winning a championship so soon?

Roethlisberger raised eyebrows when he turned down a chance to replace Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer in the Pro Bowl and went to the Grammy Awards instead. Roethlisberger is enjoying himself, but it will be up to Cowher to show him he still has plenty of work to do.
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