Mormon NFL player rides Broncos' momentum

Published: Friday, Dec. 16 2011 1:50 p.m. MST

Tim Tebow (15) scrambles out of the pocket with Spencer Larsen (46) and Orlando Franklin (74) against San Diego on Nov. 27, 2011.

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There is a lot to be excited about in Denver these days, especially if you’re a Broncos fan.

Aside from being engulfed by Tim Tebow-mania, Denver is 8-5, first in the AFC West and riding a six-game winning streak into Sunday’s game against New England.

For Spencer Larsen, the season has been memorable for another reason.

“I haven’t been part of a winning season since I was a junior in high school,” the fourth-year player said with a laugh. “It’s exciting when you win, and when you do it in an unconventional way, it’s even more exciting.”

By unconventional, Larsen is referring to how the Broncos have shown a tendency to struggle for three quarters before finding a way to come back and win when the game is on the line.

As examples, Larsen pointed out improbable victories over Miami and Chicago. Against the Dolphins, the Broncos trailed 15-0 in the fourth quarter before they stormed back to win 18-15 in overtime. Denver also trailed the Bears 10-0 in the fourth quarter. Then the Broncos fought back to win, 13-10, in OT.

“The fact that we won in Miami … it was incredible to be part of. Then the Bears game; I don’t know if we will ever see that kind of thing happen again,” Larsen said. “We all want to play better for four quarters. None of us feel we have played our best ball yet. This week it will come down to playing all four quarters.”

Larsen, a 6-foot-2, 243-pound fullback who played his college ball at the University of Arizona, has carried the ball 17 times for 62 yards and caught 13 passes for 120 yards and one touchdown.

Larsen irritated his hamstring in the win over Chicago, but expects to be ready for the Patriots.

When asked what his relationship with quarterback Tim Tebow is like, Larsen said they enjoy a pleasant teammate friendship.

“I wouldn’t say we are extremely close, but whenever we have a chance we talk. We’ve talked about several topics, including religion,” said Larsen, who served a two-year LDS mission to Chile. “He is like anybody else. He doesn’t bring a lot of attention to himself. He’s a genuine kid who tries to do the right thing.”

For the most part, it’s been a smooth, healthy year for Larsen. The biggest challenge for Larsen has been adjusting to changes in the offense since Tebow replaced Kyle Orton in week 5.

“The offense is quite a bit different. That transition has been the most difficult,” said Larsen, who played linebacker in college. “It’s been hard to go back and forth and execute at a high level. I get the ball a little more with the option wrinkle, but mostly I just block people.”

And that’s just fine with the fullback. Larsen and the Broncos will continue to focus on playing to the whistle, winning and preparing for the playoffs.

“This has been one of the most fun years of football since I was a kid. We have experienced a lot of cool things,” Larsen said. “You gain a lot of confidence through experience and when we started winning, we started to believe we were capable of winning. I have also learned you never quit on anything. There is always a chance.”

Email: ttoone@desnews.com Twitter: tbtoone

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