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Broncos safety Lynch remains mum on plans for future

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos players have resorted to impassioned pleas.

That's how much they want safety John Lynch to return for a 16th season.

"Please come back, John," cornerback Dre' Bly said Thursday as he walked by Lynch as he conducted an interview. "Just one more year. We need you."

Lynch just grinned at Bly, refusing to tip his hand about the future.

He doesn't want to make any rash decisions right now. Once the Broncos wrap up their season Sunday against Minnesota, Lynch will take some time to contemplate his future. He'll chat with coach Mike Shanahan, then his family and come to a conclusion.

"In the middle of a frustrating year, I don't think it's the time to be making a decision like that," Lynch said. "I'll take my time."

And while he's always played every game like it's his last, he realizes Sunday could really be the case.

Lynch has pushed that thought to the back of his mind. He's more interested in sending the Broncos (6-9) out on a winning note. A victory could also knock the Vikings (8-7) out of the playoff picture.

"You never know when the journey starts back to success," said Lynch, whose team has dropped four of its past five. "The last couple of games we've played well at home. We want to build on that and come out and put on a nice show."

Lynch's body may have the final say as to his return. He has been dinged up quite a bit this season. Lynch missed a game with a groin injury and two more because of a stinger in his neck, which he suffered against Green Bay in late October.

The neck injury had him particularly worried because he experienced numbness in his fingers.

"Initially, I thought, 'This might be it,"' said Lynch, who had an operation on his neck after the 2003 season.

He received assurances from doctors that it was just a pinched nerve and was soon back in the lineup.

However, he has had just 53 tackles this season, his fewest since 1995 when he accumulated 47 stops in a season cut short by injuries, including a torn posterior cruciate ligament.

Despite his drop in tackles, Shanahan doesn't think Lynch, an eight-time Pro Bowler, is in decline.

"John played very well this season," he said.

Bly couldn't agree more. That's why he's lobbying hard to lure him back, even if he has to beg.

"Having John this year has definitely been a blessing for me," said Bly, who leads the team with five interceptions. "He's been a tremendous help. I don't want to see John go. John has had a great career -- he's always been known as a big hitter. He can still do that."

Bly thinks bringing back Lynch would be an integral step in revamping the Broncos defense, which never became a cohesive unit under the direction of defensive boss Jim Bates. Denver ranks 30th against the run this season, giving up 140 yards a game.

Bly blamed injuries as the culprit behind the Broncos' defensive struggles. Denver lost linemen Ebenezer Ekuban (torn Achilles' tendon) and rookie Jarvis Moss (broken leg) to season-ending injuries.

"I really feel like we didn't get the full use out of all our abilities this whole year," Bly said. "So, having John again is something that I would love to do. I look forward to it, but it's his decision. He's had a great career."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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