linkMike Shanahan, who runs the Broncos' personnel business in his own secret service way, spent time with President Bush this week during a campaign stop in the area. The two talked about football and the Broncos' 4-1 start as Denver heads into Sunday's AFC West matchup at Oakland. Good thing the conversation didn't turn to what has been a major question all week: Will Reuben Droughns get another chance to run for nearly 200 yards? "I probably would have told him if he asked," Shanahan said, referring to Bush.
However, for those non-presidential inquiring minds, Shanahan said they will have to wait until Sunday to see whether Droughns - the starting fullback for the first four games - will be the primary tailback after his dominating 30-carry, 193-yard performance in 20-17 victory over Carolina. Droughns was playing in place of Quentin Griffin, out with a sprained left ankle. Griffin, who struggled the three weeks before his injury, practiced at full speed Wednesday, Shanahan said. Griffin is listed as probable on the injury report and is expected to play.
Shanahan has hinted he has made up his mind about who will get the majority of carries. "They're trying to get that out of me here, too," Shanahan told Oakland reporters Wednesday. "They'll both get a chance to play, that's for sure."
One possibility is Droughns will take many of the carries while the speedy Griffin plays more of a change-of-pace role. Droughns, a power runner, proved Sunday against Carolina that he is a good fit for the offense. Against the Panthers he proved difficult to tackle. He also was excellent in short- yardage situations, an area in which Griffin struggles. Griffin is valued for his speed. He rushed for 156 yards in the season opener against Kansas City, but then gained a combined 139 yards in the next three games.
Raiders coach Norv Turner said he expects to see a lot of Droughns. "Oh, yeah, we're familiar with him," Turner said. "He's such a physical, downhill runner and obviously he was extremely impressive."
Droughns said he hopes to get another opportunity. "It was a lot of fun playing, and I hope I get to play some more," Droughns said. "But we'll have to wait and see what happens. I don't know the plan. "But I will prepare like I'm playing. I think I showed I can help the team."
Droughns will remain the primary kick returner. He is averaging 25.8 yards a carry and impressed the coaching staff with his bruising style. The staff was pleased to see Droughns display the same, difficult-to- take-down style at tailback. If Droughns gets most of the carries and needs a breather from returns, rookie Triandos Luke likely would take on those duties.