Shoate getting his shot


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Jan 22, 2006
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Shoate getting his shot

Lee Rasizer, Rocky Mountain News
May 23, 2006

ENGLEWOOD - His Denver Broncos teammates and coaches have yelled out his name more than a few times during the past week in recognition of big plays.
And every time Jeff Shoate hears that positive reinforcement at the team's passing camp, he's flattered by the attention.

"It's nice to be remembered," he said with a smile.

Truth be told, it has been easy to forget during the past couple of years Shoate still is kicking around the roster.

He mainly was a special-teams player in his first NFL season, then underwent major surgery to reattach a tendon in his left knee. After three drafted rookies made their mark at cornerback while Shoate landed on injured reserve to finish his recovery in 2005, he quickly faded into the background at the position.

But the time off has allowed the former fifth-round pick out of San Diego State to strengthen his leg in preparation for a comeback that now is only beginning to hit full stride.

"He looks very good," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said Monday, adding there's no indication Shoate is anything less than fully recovered. "He's making plays like he did in college."

Those moments were in short supply last summer.

Shoate, 25, attempted to come back from his January 2005 surgery during training camp, but it soon became painfully obvious he wasn't right and had to quickly back off his participation. The leg had atrophied before his surgery, becoming so bothersome he couldn't do any weightlifting work.

"It wasn't even close, really," he said when asked whether he felt like himself during that time. "I was playing on one leg. I didn't have any speed or explosion and I couldn't push off."

Doctors told him his recovery period would be at least six months and could last a full year, so it wasn't a complete shock.

Neither was the addition of Domonique Foxworth, Darrent Williams and Karl Paymah - Shoate understood the Broncos had to hedge their bets and bring in strength in numbers in case his comeback attempt failed.

"I was here my rookie year and I saw how things work," he said. "Players get hurt. Guys go down. And guys work their way up the roster."

That latter task is the one currently at hand for Shoate.

Champ Bailey is a sure-fire starter, and Williams and Foxworth figure to battle it out at right cornerback, with the loser the favorite to start in the nickel package.

Behind those three, Shoate is lumped in a group with Curome Cox, Antwaun Rogers, Willie Middlebrooks, Roc Alexander and Paymah, who are trying to make an impression.

So far, Shoate has done just that.

"You can't even tell he had a year off," Bailey said.

The All-Pro suggested the break might have done Shoate some good in terms of development.

"His first year he struggled with the coaches on his back and had to worry about being a rookie. And it's tough," Bailey said. "But you sit back and look at the situation, the opportunity's right there. He's worked hard in the off-season and I don't expect anything but good things."

The biggest impediment Shoate believes he faces is getting reaccustomed to fitting into the defensive scheme.

By the reaction he has gotten so far, he appears to be making progress on that front, too. He'll also need to impress on special teams, where he played seven games as a rookie, if he's going to solidify a spot on the roster.

At least he should be able to give it his best shot, though.

"It may be before the end of the season before it's totally normal and I feel nothing," he said of his health status. "But it's strong right now. I'm able to do everything I need to do and it's holding up through practices. I'm fast again, quick. I have a lot of power. So I feel good.",2777,DRMN_23918_4719687,00.html
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