Denver has backfield options

HOUSTON -- Here are five observations on the Denver Broncos, based on their Aug. 10-11 practices:

1. As usual, the Broncos have their cast of thousands -- or, more accurately, potential 1,000-yard rushers -- at tailback. And, per the norm, no one seems certain who the starter will be when Denver opens the season at Miami on Sept. 11. One guy it won't be is surprise third-round draft choice Maurice Clarett, who didn't travel here for the mixed practices or Saturday night's preseason game because of a groin injury. According to sources, even before the injury, the erstwhile Ohio State back was struggling in several aspects of the game, and likely will not be much of a factor in 2005.

That leaves Mike Anderson, who is currently working with the first unit, and challengers Tatum Bell and Quentin Griffin. Here's one for all you trivia buffs: Anderson had more rushing yards and touchdowns as a rookie in 2000, when his 1,487 yards ranked as the sixth-most in history by a first-year player and he scored 15 times, than he has posted in the four years since then. Since that terrific 2000 campaign, in which he was named rookie of the year in many polls, Anderson has only 1,321 yards and nine rushing touchdowns.