Broken pinkie may end career

Updated: October 22, 2003, 12:28 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- The Denver Broncos placed quarterback Steve Beuerlein on injured reserve Tuesday, a move that could mark the end of his 17-year career.

Beuerlein, who became the starter after Jake Plummer broke his foot, fractured the pinkie finger on his throwing hand in the third quarter of Denver's 28-20 loss to Minnesota Sunday. The injury was expected to keep him out up to six weeks, but the Broncos decided to shelve him for the season so they could use the roster spot.

Neither Beuerlein nor team officials were available for comment Tuesday.

Beuerlein's injury left the Broncos with Danny Kanell, three years removed from his last NFL game, as their only quarterback. Receiver Rod Smith, who has not played quarterback since high school, was his backup.

Plummer is expected to miss at least three more weeks.

On Wednesday, the Broncos re-signed Jarious Jackson, the third quarterback the past three seasons. The team still may bring in others this week to shore up the quarterback spot.

"Selfishly, I still want to play," Beuerlein said Monday. "But I also understand the business side of things. I've been around long enough to know these decisions have to be made and you've got to put your personal feelings aside and do what's best for the team."

After the Broncos signed Plummer in the offseason, Beuerlein was unsure about coming back at age 38. He decided to play at least one more year after Broncos coach Mike Shanahan visited his home.

It hasn't gone exactly the way he had planned.

Beuerlein started two games in place of Plummer but struggled in both. He threw two interceptions two weeks ago against Pittsburgh, but pulled it together just in time to set up a last-second, game-winning field goal.

Sunday against Minnesota, Beuerlein looked his age moving around in the pocket -- he was sacked five times -- and threw three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown.

His quarterback rating was just 28.1 when he suffered the gruesome injury to his finger.

"One bad day does not a career make," Beuerlein said. "If it happens to be the end for me, then I'll be fine with what I have accomplished."

Beuerlein has thrown for 24,046 yards and 145 touchdowns in 148 career games. He has played with six teams and has a total of 111 interceptions.

He is one of 12 players in league history to have 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in a season, throwing for 4,436 yards and 36 touchdowns with Carolina in 1999.

The Broncos have other holes to fill after a rash of injuries the past two weeks.

Outside linebacker Ian Gold was lost for the season to a knee injury two weeks ago.

Denver also will be without starting left tackle Ephraim Salaam for at least two games due to knee surgery, an injury that prompted the team to sign tackle P.J. Alexander off New Orleans' practice squad on Tuesday.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press