Broncos still awaiting word on Henry's status

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos are still awaiting the NFL's decision on whether tailback Travis Henry will have to spend a year out of football over a failed drug test in September.

Coach Mike Shanahan said he hadn't heard anything Friday and didn't want to speculate about whether he'd receive a ruling by day's end, as several reports had suggested.

"I really don't know. There's been rumors," Shanahan said. "I haven't heard anything. It's just speculation."

The Broncos were hopeful that a ruling on Friday would be good news. The league likes to mete out punishment before the work week begins in earnest on Wednesday to avoid a competitive disadvantage by removing a player who has been a part of pregame preparations.

Because the failed drug test occurred while Henry was still under the two-year probationary period after serving a four-game drug-related suspension while with the Tennessee Titans in 2005, he is subject to a one-year suspension this time.

Henry was in a jovial mood Friday and said he wasn't worried about the pending decision from commissioner Roger Goodell, who heard his appeal in Arizona in early November.

"I'm good. I keep doing what I can do. You aren't going to get me to talk" about the case, Henry told The Associated Press after practice. "There ain't anything I can tell you because I don't know."

After missing three games with a torn posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee that he sustained Nov. 4 at Detroit, Henry practiced all week and expects to return to the lineup at Oakland on Sunday.

Henry was notified in September that he had failed a drug test for marijuana. He disputed the results and sued the NFL to avoid a suspension. He contends the league violated its substance abuse policy by not allowing his expert to be present for the testing of his urine sample.

Shanahan has said he believes Henry because he passed a polygraph test and a recent hair sample came back negative for marijuana. Shanahan said if he thought his running back had used illicit drugs, he would have kicked him off the team.

Henry's case is believed to revolve around the hair sample and also his passing drug tests days before and after the positive urine test he took as part of his involvement in the NFL's drug program, suggesting what was found couldn't have been anything more than second-hand smoke.

Henry signed a five-year, $22.5 million free agent contract that included $12 million in guarantees this offseason after the Titans released him in a cost-saving move. He led the league in rushing after the first month of the season with 433 yards, but he's missed four games and managed just 147 yards since then and hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 3.

Although he declared himself ready to return to the Broncos' backfield, Henry acknowledged Friday that he's still on the mend.

"I'm not going to say I'm 100 percent because that's not true. I'm doing what I got to do to get back there, to get back 100 percent," Henry said. "We running backs take the most hits, the most beatings."

The Broncos are hopeful that they'll have their top tailback and No. 1 receiver together for the first time since Week 3 when they visit Oakland. Javon Walker, who underwent knee surgery earlier this season, returned from a seven-game absence last week but didn't have any catches at Chicago.

He had a good week of practice and anticipates being a bigger part of the offense.

"I feel like a million bucks. I feel good," Walker said. "I had a good week. I'm looking forward to Sunday."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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