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Broken pinkie may end career

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.