ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - Rookie running back Ryan Torain’s time has come.
It appears the former Arizona State star who drew comparisons to Terrell Davis before breaking his left elbow in training camp will get the bulk of carries when the Denver Broncos play at Cleveland tonight.
Torain rushed three times for a yard in his NFL debut last week against Miami, when the Broncos lost starter Michael Pittman (spinal cord) and Andre Hall (hand) to season-ending injuries.
Selvin Young has been sidelined since suffering a groin injury against Tampa Bay on Oct. 5, and he hasn’t been able to participate in a full practice since.
Coach Mike Shanahan said Young will suit up tonight and test it during pregame drills to see if he can play. Same with tight end Tony Scheffler, who strained his groin on the same day Young did.
“We’ll get a chance to see them before the game and if there’s no setback, then they’ll be ready to go,” Shanahan said after Wednesday’s light workout. “They haven’t been able to go full-speed, but we’ve got another day of recovery or a little over a day, so hopefully they’re both ready to go.”
That uncertainty points to limited action, if any, against the Browns for Young and Scheffler.
Torain, who slipped to the fifth round in the NFL draft after missing the last half of his senior season in college with a broken toe, is expecting his first significant action of his pro career.
“This is huge,” he said. “This is huge for me to show how hard I’ve worked with studying film and running plays and just being out there to help the team win.”
Torain figured he would slowly ease into the rotation of rushers after he returned to practice last month, but the Broncos’ backfield has been a turnstile. The low point came Sunday when the Broncos rushed for 14 yards on 12 carries.
“It’s crazy, but you’ve got to handle adversity,” Torain said. “When two guys went down in one day, coach is like, 'You’ve got to get in your playbook. You’ve got to be mentally prepared.’ ”
Torain said he had a good, albeit truncated, week of practice. And he said getting ready to pick up the blitz and protect quarterback Jay Cutler was the harder part of his preparation.
He said he thought his fresh legs would make up for his lack of rhythm.
Young predicted last summer he’d gain 2,000 yards, but he shared snaps from the start and although he had a 5.7-yard average when he got hurt, he’s gained just 266 yards so far.
For the last month, Young’s shifty moves have been relegated to his dealings with the media as he repeatedly refused interview requests.
Faced with the threat of a fine from the league, however, Young defiantly agreed to an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press and The (Colorado Springs) Gazette.
He answered his first half-dozen questions about his health and readiness with curt, yes or no answers before finally opening up when asked if his alma mater, Texas, should have covered Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree better in the Red Raiders’ 39-33 win over the then-No. 1 Longhorns last week.
Crabtree beat double coverage for the winning touchdown grab with 1 second left.
“They did a good job covering him. Dude just made a hell of a play,” Young said.
Back to the Broncos ...
Asked if he thought he’d be healthy enough to help their battered backfield during the second half of the season, Young replied, “Yeah, as soon as I get healthy I’ll be back to doing the things that I’ve done ever since I’ve been on the football field.”
How long might that take?
Again, Young demurred.
“Oh yeah, we’ve never really said what happened to me, huh?” Young said.
He’s been listed with a groin injury. Is it more serious than that? Are there additional ailments that are delaying his return?
Young wouldn’t say, explaining he didn’t want to give his opponents any clue about his status.
“I would never say what’s going on,” Young said. “Even if I was breaking my neck, I would never say my neck’s broke.”