DENVER The Denver Broncos waived Terrell Davis, one of the most popular players in team history, on Thursday after learning the star running back would not pass his physical.
Davis has been rehabilitating in Phoenix in an attempt to return to the NFL, but recently told Broncos coach Mike Shanahan he didn't think his battered knees would allow him to pass a physical before the start of training camp on Friday.
''He doesn't want to retire, he wants to keep on working. I told him, 'You keep on working and if you feel like you can pass the physical and are in the condition to pass it, we would love to have you back,''' Shanahan said Thursday.
Davis, 30, was one of the most productive running backs in league history his first four seasons, but five operations the past four years left him hobbled. He didn't play last season after tests revealed degenerative conditions in both knees. He had microfracture surgery on his left knee last September.
Davis has been working with physical therapist Brett Fischer in Arizona to see if he can play again, but it's been slow going. He recently started running and told Shanahan that he doesn't want to take up a roster spot if he's not healthy.
By waiving Davis, the Broncos will save $355,000 against the salary cap this season and about $1.2 million next year.
''He wants to come back as a Denver Bronco and we will just kind of wait for that time,'' Shanahan said. ''Is that time ever going to occur? I really don't know. I don't think he knows.
''I just know he hasn't lost that urge to try to come back right now. He doesn't want to retire, he wants to keep that window open,'' he said.
Davis rushed for 6,413 yards second-most in NFL history his first four seasons while winning league and Super Bowl MVP awards. He also became just the fourth player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season, joining O.J. Simpson, Eric Dickerson and Barry Sanders, when he amassed 2,008 yards in 1998.
But Davis' fortunes changed when he tore knee ligaments in the fourth game of the 1999 season. He's been plagued by injuries ever since, playing just 17 games the past four seasons.
Davis was in camp with the Broncos last season but said he was walking away from football after his left knee flared up just before the first preseason game.
Davis greeted the home crowd for one final time before a preseason game a few days later but never officially retired.
''I'm just hoping that he gets healthy, regardless if he plays football or not, and he can walk around later on in his life and feel good about his knees,'' Shanahan said.
Davis, MVP of the 1997 Super Bowl, rushed for 7,607 career yards. He holds or shares 56 team records 21 in the postseason including most rushing yards, total yards from scrimmage and rushing touchdowns.
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