DENVER (AP) – If there’s one thing Rod Smith doesn’t like talking about, it’s concussions.

He’s had three of them in the last year, including one in the Pro Bowl in February. The latest one knocked him from the Denver Broncos’ game that they won in overtime against Kansas City on Sunday.

When asked this week how his recovery was going, Smith snapped: “Next question. Lets move forward. Lets get to the football. Get to the football. I’m fine.”

Pressed for an answer on his health, Smith replied: “Any football questions? You all have any football questions?”

He approached a reporter after practice to let him know no disrespect was intended, that he was just irritated at the line of questioning – irritability can be a post-concussion symptom – and said it was a moot point because he plans to play Sunday night against the New England Patriots.

On Friday, coach Mike Shanahan concurred with Smith’s assessment of his head injury.

“Rod is fine. He’s practiced the whole week. I know he’s supposed to see a doctor sometime (Friday) just to make sure it checks out OK,” Shanahan said.

The Broncos weren’t expecting the latest medical tests to show anything other than Smith’s availability.

Smith, a 12-year veteran, is off to a slow start this season, with just five catches for 50 yards and no touchdowns, one reason the offense is sputtering and has reached the end zone just once in eight quarters.

At age 36, he’s starting to give way to newcomer Javon Walker, who has eight catches for 120 yards so far, as Jake Plummer’s go-to receiver although nobody in the organization is ready to say Smith is no longer the premiere receiver on the roster.

No matter who’s the go-to guy, the offense is sputtering across the board.

“The mistakes we’ve made, they’re correctable and we’ve done the best we can to correct them,” Smith said.

“You’ve still got to go out and execute. There are a lot of factors involved with offensive football, as far as the timing, execution and things like that. But at the same time when you have your defense playing the way our defense is playing it helps you get more opportunities. And were looking forward to that.”

The Broncos haven’t allowed a touchdown yet and have limited their opponents to seven field goals in seven trips inside the 20-yard line.

But the fans’ focus has been on offense and many of them are calling for rookie quarterback Jay Cutler to take over for Plummer. Smith said there’s no better time or place for the Broncos to quiet their critics than this weekend’s game at Foxborough, Mass.

“You know the whole country is watching,” he said. “Offensively, it’s a time for us to definitely come out of this little funk that were in and prove to everybody in the league and across the country that we are a good offensive football team.”

AP-ES-09-22-06 2150EDT


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