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Elway: Plummer will respond to challenge

John Elway was nine years into his career when the Denver Broncos sent him for a loop on draft day. They picked a quarterback in the first round.

DENVER (May 9, 2006) -- John Elway was nine years into his career when the Denver Broncos sent him for a loop on draft day. They picked a quarterback in the first round.

Fast forward to 2006 and the picture in Denver is somewhat similar.

Of course, nine-year veteran Jake Plummer isn't John Elway. And Denver's newest quarterback, Jay Cutler, doesn't draw any comparisons to Tommy Maddox. Still, Elway said he could relate to the mixed emotions Plummer might have felt when Denver's latest draft-day surprise went down.

It could turn you a little bit sideways, especially when you're that close to the Super Bowl," Elway said. "But I think they addressed more than that issue. Getting Javon Walker in the second round, they get the receiver they needed, plus they draft for the future. Overall, it's a very good draft."

When the Broncos selected Maddox in 1992, it was fairly obvious they needed a receiver. The popular choice at the time was Carl Pickens of Tennessee. Dan Reeves wound up choosing Maddox instead, and it later became apparent that he did so with the intention of eventually trading Elway, who had led the Broncos to three Super Bowls but had a frosty relationship with Reeves.

That plan never worked and it was Reeves and Maddox who ended up elsewhere. Elway stayed and led the Broncos to two titles after his old offensive coordinator, Mike Shanahan, came back as head coach.

"A lot of times, players look at it differently than the organization would look at it," Elway said. "At the point when we drafted Tommy Maddox, we were in great need of a wide receiver. My view was different than what the Broncos thought at the time. They thought it was the right move for them."

Elway said he hasn't seen much of Cutler, but has heard about his strong arm and his ability to coax a lot out of himself despite playing at Vanderbilt, a bottom feeder in the Southeastern Conference.

Last week, Plummer said he figured it would be at least a year, maybe two, before Cutler could realistically start for the Broncos. He took no offense at Denver trading up in the draft to make the pick.

"I talked with Mike and I think I would have made the same pick," Plummer said. "You go get a guy like him. Especially with this organization, when are we going to get a chance to pick that high again? Hopefully not in a long, long time."

Elway says he knows Plummer well enough to figure he'll react well to the situation.

"It's nice for Jake," Elway said. "They're in the perfect situation, they've proven they can win with Jake and they've started looking to the future. When Cutler gets to the point where he can compete for the job, I'm sure Jake, knowing the way Jake handles things, he'll take it as a challenge and perform."

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2006, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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