With possible suspension looming, injury may keep Broncos' Henry off the field

Updated: November 15, 2007, 9:08 PM ET
Associated Press

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Travis Henry reluctantly slipped the brace over his sore left knee before heading out to practice.

The Broncos running back can't stand the contraption.

Travis Henry

Henry

Yet with a slightly torn posterior cruciate ligament, Henry doesn't have much choice. He may have to wear the brace -- like it or not -- if he wants to suit up Monday against his former team, the Tennessee Titans.

"I'll wear a brace for practice," Henry said Thursday. "But I ain't going to wear it in no game."

Henry had hoped his knee would be further along by now. He did practice on a limited basis Thursday, running some drills with the scout team and stepping in on offense for a few plays.

"I'm not going to say I'm 100 percent," he said after practice. "We've got until Monday, so we'll see."

In the meantime, he has more pressing concerns. Henry is trying to keep the league from suspending him over the results of a drug test earlier this season. He'll present his case to the NFL in Phoenix on Friday.

"It's been going on for so long," Henry said. "It's like you're ready to know what's going to happen."

Broncos coach Mike Shanahan has already thrown his support behind his tailback. He said Henry passed a lie detector test and a recent hair sample taken from Henry came back negative for marijuana.

"We'll let due process take care of itself," said Shanahan, who doesn't expect the ruling to come down before Monday night's game.

If the league rules against him, Henry faces a one-year suspension. Henry was suspended for four games in September 2005 for violating the league's substance abuse policy while in Tennessee.

All Henry would say on the day before his meeting with the league was, "I have a good feeling what's going to happen."

Now if he only felt that certain about his health. He sat out Denver's 27-11 win over Kansas City on Sunday with a swollen knee. He's also battling sore ribs that forced him to miss a game earlier this season against Green Bay.

But this is one game he doesn't want to miss. The Titans let him go in the offseason in a cost-saving move. Henry signed a five-year deal with Denver for $22.5 million, including $12 million in guarantees, last March.

He has a good rapport with many of his former Tennessee teammates.

"I know all of them guys over there," Henry said. "It would be good if I could play against them."

Shanahan said he'd know more about Henry's status for the game after a workout on Saturday.

Should Henry not be able to suit up, the Broncos have found a reliable contingency plan in undrafted rookie Selvin Young, who gained 109 yards and scored a touchdown against the Chiefs.

Young has rushed for 331 yards this season, which is third among NFL rookies.

"He's a smart kid," quarterback Jay Cutler said. "I like having him out there. He's got that extra gear and can make the person miss."

Shanahan likes Young's elusiveness as well. Young is second in the league in averaging 5.3 yards per rush.

"You can see the speed, quickness and explosion in practice," Shanahan said. "To see him actually do it against an excellent defense gives him a lot of confidence."

Henry led the league in rushing after the first month of the season, but injuries keep creeping up on him. He hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 3.

He had 433 yards after the first four weeks, including three 100-yard games, but has rushed for just 147 yards since then.

"He's really played well when he's been healthy," Shanahan said.

Cutler said that Henry's off-the-field issues haven't been a distraction for the Broncos.

"I thought he has handled everything as a professional," Cutler said. "The team still supports him. The coaches support him. I just hope everything turns out in his favor."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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