ENGLEWOOD, COLO. (AP) - Denver Broncos cornerback Andre' Goodman is having a difficult time once again overcoming the perception that he's an injury-prone player.
After playing two straight 16-game seasons, Goodman is on the verge of missing his seventh full game after a thigh injury.
Goodman injured his quadriceps in a Week 2 win against the Seattle Seahawks. He tried to rush back two weeks later but lasted just one series. Three weeks after that, he exacerbated the problem.
The injuries are wearing on Goodman, who has been ruled out of Sunday's home game against St. Louis.
"It's not the nature of the injury. It's more so because I had started to build some momentum in my career in terms of being able to start and play 16 games for the last two seasons, and those have been the two most productive seasons of my career," said Goodman, who had five interceptions in both the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
"It's sort of like I built that momentum, and I didn't want to slow down," he added. "And at this point of my career, when you've missed as many games as I've missed, you start thinking about, 'OK, how productive can I be going forward?' And I want to get that put out of my head."
The 32-year-old Goodman is under contract for the next three seasons and is scheduled for a nearly $3 million base salary in 2011.
But with Champ Bailey a pending free agent, and both starting safeties into their 30s, there could be offseason talk about reconfiguring the defensive backfield.
Goodman knows in that uncertain landscape that he could be viewed differently.
"Trust me, I understand that," he said, adding that "staying healthy has been my problem throughout the last nine years."
Coach Josh McDaniels said the big picture will be part of Goodman's evaluation.
"He's had some bumps in the road with his health this season, but I don't really think you can say each situation's going to play out the same," McDaniels said. "We'll try to use all the information that we can. I know Andre' wants to be out there. We want him to get out there. He wants to prove himself. ... We haven't lost faith in any player due to injury. We'll maintain that stance, and we'll allow him to do that."
Goodman's past two NFL seasons marked the first time in his career he'd played a full 16-game schedule once, much less twice in a row.
His injury issues first surfaced with Detroit in 2003, when an injured shoulder limited him to three games. He was inactive for four games the next season with a thigh injury. He was placed on injured reserve in both 2006 and '07 with left shoulder problems.
His fortunes seemed to change with the Dolphins in 2008. He played the whole season, broke up 19 passes, added five interceptions and recorded 39 tackles in making the postseason for the first time. It earned him a five-year, $20.4 million free-agent deal with Denver.
Last season Goodman had five interceptions, 17 pass breakups and his first career sack.
The run of good fortune ended against Seattle, when he pulled up lame while covering a crossing route, hopping to the sideline to get medical attention. Goodman said he tried to come back too quickly against Baltimore on Oct. 10, when he lasted just a handful of snaps.
"Going into the ball game I knew there was something still there, but it was more my pain tolerance than the injury having to heal," he said. "Obviously, I was still injured, and it just wasn't a good decision on my part."
Rookie Perrish Cox filled Goodman's starting spot opposite Bailey the next two weeks but Cox suffered a concussion that prevented him from making the London trip to play the 49ers.
The timing seemed right for Goodman, who was feeling better.
"I warmed up. I felt good," he said. "I remember running out the tunnel before introductions and doing my sprint that I always do to make sure I'm warm and I felt it then. But it went away. On the fourth play of the game on a quick screen I burst up, and my whole leg crumbled. But nothing leading up to that game would have led me to believe that would have happened."
Complicating matters for Goodman is that while Cox has been inconsistent in his first season, it's the veteran's belief that the rookie has all the skills to be a superstar. And Cox could ultimately be selected as Goodman's replacement.
But both the Broncos and Goodman have said he's not headed for injured reserve, which would end his season. So the month of December is critical in re-establishing his place on the team.
"It's frustrating," Goodman said, "but the only reason I don't get down on myself is I feel I've done what I should have been doing to stay healthy and to further my career."