Broncos' Pittman, Hall out for season with injuries

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos' dinged-up backfield took two more big hits Monday when Michael Pittman and Andre Hall were placed on injured reserve.

Backfield blues

With Michael Pittman (5,627 career rushing yards, 25 TDs) and Andre Hall (360 yards, two TDs) on injured reserve, the Broncos lose experience. Here's what Denver's current backfield has accomplished in their careers:

Ryan Torain
Experience: Rookie

Carries: 3

Yards/TDs: 1/0

Receptions: 0

Yards/TDs: 0/0

Selvin Young
Experience: 2nd season

Carries: 187

Yards/TDs: 995/2

Receptions: 38

Yards/TDs: 247/0

Peyton Hillis
Experience: Rookie

Carries: 3

Yards/TDs: 14/0

Receptions: 8

Yards/TDs: 120/1

Both Pittman and Hall were injured in Denver's 26-17 loss to Miami on Sunday. The Broncos had just 14 yards rushing in the game, the team's lowest total in 36 years.

Pittman hurt his neck and ribs against New England before the bye week, and re-injured his neck in the second half against the Dolphins.

The 11-year veteran took over the starting job three weeks ago after Selvin Young went down with a groin injury, and leads the team in rushing with 320 yards. He also has four touchdowns.

Hall fell out of favor with the coaching staff after fumbling on his only two carries in New England. He was pressed back into duty Sunday when Pittman went down.

However, Hall carried the ball just once for 7 yards before injuring his left hand.

Ryan Torain is now the only relatively healthy tailback on the roster, given Young's groin ailment.

Torain, a rookie out of Arizona State, played in his first game of the season Sunday, carrying the ball three times for 1 yard. Torain had been out since breaking his left elbow in training camp.

"I know I need to step up big time, help the team out and do my best," he said.

The Broncos, who have lost four of five, insist Torain is ready.

"In the offseason, he was making plays for us," rookie receiver Eddie Royal said. "We know he's capable of doing it. We've got all the confidence in the world in him."

Rookie fullback Peyton Hillis said he's willing to fill in at tailback if needed. Hillis is coming off a game in which he caught seven passes for 116 yards, becoming the first Denver running back with more than 100 yards receiving since Floyd Little in 1974.

"I'm here to do whatever they tell me to do," said Hillis, who played a little tailback at Arkansas when Darren McFadden needed a breather. "I'm a football player and I like to be versatile and do a lot of different things. Wherever they need me on a certain week, I'd love to do it."

The news could get even worse for the Broncos, with team leader D.J. Williams undergoing an MRI on his left knee Monday. Williams' agent, Tony Fleming, wasn't sure about the severity of the injury.

"There's no word on how bad or how long he's out," Fleming said. "Too early to say."

Fellow linebacker Jamie Winborn said he's spoken with the Broncos' defensive leader and said he's in good spirits.

"He feels confident he can come back and make a healthy return," Winborn said.

Still, Denver's deep linebacking corps has suddenly become depleted, just like the running backs.

First, Boss Bailey went down with a season-ending knee injury against New England.

Now Williams is sidelined after hurting his knee making a stop in the fourth quarter. Williams is the leading tackler on a team that's had trouble tackling, ranking near the bottom of the league in total defense.

"I don't know what to say or do," middle linebacker Nate Webster said. "Having that bond and that rhythm -- it's important knowing the guy that's next to you. It hurts."

The Broncos already were battered on defense, losing Champ Bailey for at least a month after he injured his groin while covering New England's Randy Moss.

Safety Marlon McCree limped into the locker room Sunday night on crutches, courtesy of a sprained ankle he suffered on the same play Williams got hurt.

"We're very concerned," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said Sunday of the rash of injuries. "Guys need to step up and fill in."

Karl Paymah took Bailey's place against Miami, and was picked on all afternoon. Paymah gave Greg Camarillo a comfortable cushion in coverage, and the Dolphins receiver had 11 catches for 111 yards.

Then again, Paymah had some big cleats to fill.

"A guy like Champ Bailey, he's a Hall of Famer, you can't really expect to come in and fill his spot," said Paymah, who picked off a Chad Pennington pass in the third quarter. "I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself."

Paymah is just grateful for a quick turnaround. The Broncos are at Cleveland on Thursday night.

"We have no choice but to shake it off," Paymah said. "We've got to figure out a way to get this next win."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.