Tatum Tantrum


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Jan 22, 2006
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Tatum tantrum
'They don't trust me' is assessment of the backup

By Lee Rasizer, Rocky Mountain News
August 9, 2006

ENGLEWOOD - Frustrated by Mike Bell's sudden move to No. 1 on the depth chart, backup running back Tatum Bell wondered Tuesday whether he ever will ascend to the starting job in the Broncos backfield after the latest in a series of disappointments.

"They don't think I can be the man, period," he said flatly. "They don't think I can do 25 carries."

In Bell's opinion, the organization only has faith in him to be a back that logs 10 to 12 attempts a game, nothing more.

"They don't trust me," he said, adding he is unsure whether that person is coach Mike Shanahan, running backs coach Bobby Turner or someone else making decisions in the front office.

And, he believes, that mind-set doesn't figure to change anytime soon, though he has not completely given up hope.

"I'm going to keep fighting for it, and I've got it in the back of my mind that I'm going to be the man, but in reality, it ain't worked like that in three years," Bell said. "It's a long season. Anything can happen and Mike's looking good, I'm not taking nothing from him. But I feel like I should be the No. 1 - to be named the starter and then lose it. I don't know, man. I'm still (ticked) off about it."

Bell had been No. 2 behind Ron Dayne before the coaching staff inserted Mike Bell, an undrafted free agent, as starter and dropped Dayne to No. 3.

The group was informed of the moves Sunday and the depth chart became public Monday.

Tatum Bell recalled thinking when Shanahan began to alert him the backfield had been "re-evaluated" that he finally had reached his elusive goal to become the starter.

Instead, he was blindsided, particularly because he had worked diligently during the offseason and felt he had made strides this summer.

"I've been having one of my best camps," he said.

Bell admittedly has had a few critical fumbles during training camp, including one with the offense backed up on its 2-yard line Tuesday that was recovered by the defense for a touchdown.

But in other areas, such as blitz pickup, making the proper reads, catching the ball and keeping mental busts to a minimum, it's Bell's feeling he has shown consistency.

Perhaps, he surmised, the prevailing notion is he still is not running strong enough for a promotion.

"I've shown I can carry the ball and whatever. And I was even showing a little more that I haven't shown," he said. "But they're more impressed with (Mike) than they are me."

The decision, which Shanahan has insisted is fluid pending more preseason study of performances, marks the fourth time Bell thought he had reached the pinnacle only to be let down.

As a rookie in 2003, fullback Reuben Droughns passed him to become a workhorse runner after Quentin Griffin got hurt, a move he said he didn't quite understand.

Mike Anderson became the primary back last season, with Bell reiterating Tuesday a previous complaint he "hardly got any reps" with the first unit to make it a contest.

But after rushing for 921 yards in a reserve role and Anderson getting released, he felt his shot had arrived this offseason. Only Bell was bypassed again as Dayne entered camp as the No. 1.

"I was like, 'OK, I've got to work through this,' " Bell said.

Now, this latest turn of events, which is "the hardest" of all to swallow.

General manager Ted Sundquist insisted the team has faith in Bell.

"We wouldn't have taken Tatum in the second round if we didn't feel like he didn't have the tools to get the job done in our system," he said. "And he's shown that over the course of his first two years."

The running back promised he'll continue competing hard to pass Mike Bell, stay focused and "worry about me," even if he is unsure about just how open the job competition is currently.

He might even inject some of his anger into his future performances.

"All I can do is keep fighting," Tatum Bell said. "It ain't like I've never been in this situation before, so all I can do is keep going through it. And I feel like once I get the job, or if I get it, I feel like it's mine forever and that I really earned it and ain't nothing given to me."

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