Sports News

Aug 6, 2014 12:46 AM

Broncos get ready for first preseason game

With their final practice in the books, the Broncos are prepping for their first preseason game of the season and the opponent makes this game count for in moral spirit. 

The Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks come to Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium for the first game between the two teams since February. 

The offensive and defensive starts aren't expected to play many snaps on Thursday night but you will see many of the backups like quarterback Brock Osweiler. Broncos will see a few faces at running back after Montee Ball's appendectomy Monday afternoon. 

Here is what the players had to say after today's practice: 


Opening Comments
"Update on who didn't participate today: [RB] Montee Ball, appendectomy, [DE] Chase Vaughn, knee, [DE] Greg Latta, hip, [WR] Emmanuel Sanders has a right quad strain, [DB] Charles Mitchell left practice early with hamstring."

On what makes CBs Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib effective
"On Chris Harris' situation, he came from the University of Kansas as a college free agent. He initially caught our eyes with his efforts and tenacity in the kicking game that carried over to the corner position. He is an ultra-competitive guy that has done a lot to master the skills it takes to play in this league. When he went out last year that was obviously a big blow, but he has worked very hard with our training staff and our medical staff. It is a hard injury to come back from and he has worked really hard. He looks very good and we have been able to increase some of his reps in training camp and he has handled it very well. Aqib Talib, we are getting to learn more about. Sometimes if you can't beat them, join them. I think getting him has helped us a lot. He has a big, long body and is very skilled. He is a very physical corner. He plays the game-both run and pass-remaining physical. He is good with his hands in press coverage. Those are just to name a few [things]."

On if WR Emmanuel Sanders will play in Thursday's preseason game
"I don't know that yet. Those are game-time decisions. We still have a little time before that. He did not participate today so we will see what tomorrow brings."

On how much he wants to play his starters on Thursday
"Probably no more than first quarter. We will just have to see how it goes on both sides of the ball. That's pretty typical of the first preseason game, just no more than the first quarter."

On if he expects the level of intensity to be high on Thursday
"I think every year no matter what team you are playing, you get tired of banging around each other for 14 days. I think everybody is excited and I think they will be too. I believe you use this for preseason because you haven't hit anybody since the end of the season. I think it will be fun. Everyone is excited and I know I am."

On if it's good to face Seattle in the first preseason game
"Last year is forgotten. Everybody is 0-0 because this is the 2014 season. This is no different than any other years, like a year ago we lost to the Baltimore Ravens [in the 2012 playoff then opened the 2013 season against them]. Like I have said many times, if you don't win the last game there will be disappointment. That is behind us and we are so far along now with different players and different schemes that we don't think about that much."

On if the preseason is an opportunity for the younger players to step up
"I think it's exciting for the staff because we haven't done this since February. Whether it's new players-and we do have a lot of new players that we haven't seen play for us yet-so that is always exciting to see how they perform."

On what new players he likes so far this season
"It's much too early to say since we haven't played a preseason game, but I have really been impressed by the guys' mindsets and attitudes and how they go about their work, especially how they have worked during training camp and even the offseason. Now we are just putting it all together for the first time in the 2014 season to play a live football game."

On how he feels about RBs Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson
"I feel good. I have felt good all through the offseason. Just like everybody, I am excited to get them out there in a game like situation."

On if he thinks QB Brock Osweiler has improved since his rookie season
"I just ask the guys to improve every day and I think he has matured and gotten more comfortable in the offense. When we have called on him, he has performed well. I just look for him to build on that. He will get his first opportunity this season against the Seattle Seahawks."


On playing against the first-team offense in practice
"I feel great, healthy. Just going out there, playing with the guys, it is great to be back at football, back able to run and move around like I am supposed to, like people know I can. The coaches just want to see what I can do out there against the ‘ones,' with the top offense. We've got the top offense in the league and they just want to see can I bring that tenacity and that fire against the ones."

On the opportunity he had today
"I was like, ‘I appreciate it.' I just go out there and perform and work every day at practice and they said that my performance thus far warranted me getting some reps with the ‘ones.' We are competing. We have a [heck] of five D-Tackles from top to bottom and it is a competition out there. So I just want to come compete every day and show them I can be a player in this league. I don't want to be just a guy."

On his growth over the past few years
"My spin works now. It feels great. I have been humble through my career so I know the type of opportunity that I have, so I am just grateful to be here today and grateful to be able to say I can still play football, especially at the professional level."


On facing Seattle in the first preseason game
"It's going to be a good game. We are going to go out here with the fire lit under our butts and we know we have something to prove and show. So we are going to go out there and do it as long as the coaches keep us out there and try to make it a good game and see where we are at, as far as the defense."

On rotating players when they get tired in the preseason games
"I think everybody is pretty cool about it. When you are tired and you can't give your all or you can't do what you usually do, then you come out. I think everybody trusts each other as far as the next guy up kind of thing. So I think when you are tired you come out, there is nobody second guessing if they need to stay in because the guy behind them can't do it. We don't do that. If you are dressed, if [Defensive Coordinator] Jack Del Rio tells you to dress, you better be able to do what you need to do. I think everybody is comfortable with the guy that is backing them up."

On his role on the defense
"I am a guy who needs a job and who has done everything he needs to do to keep it. Wherever they what me to play, whatever I can do I just try-the more you can do, the more you get to do things. So that is all I try to work on and I try to be good at a bunch of things and not just good at one thing."

On what he's working on in this year's training camp
"This year pretty much just getting my run game stouter. I know I can pass rush so that's now on the back burner, but you work on that and pass rushing 101s, but really it is kind of stopping the run and really being more stout and showing these coaches that I am not just a one-trick pony and pass rush, but also can stop the run a lot better than I did last year. So that is what I am working on."


On if he expects a lot of energy from Seattle
"They're one of the best teams in the league. If we didn't get their best shot, I would think something's wrong. That's going to be a great game and it's going to be a great preseason game, and I'm looking forward to playing them. I know my teammates feel the same way."

On copying the energy from Seattle's defense
"It's a copycat league. When you see a team have success with something, you try to do the same thing on your team. They set the standard for big-time defense in the National Football League, so when you watch them, you can see clearly that they're playing with something you can't really put a name on. You can't really define ‘it' just by watching them. And it's good to see defenses go out there and play like that and we're trying to be a defense like that. Whenever you see it up in person it's different from coaches telling you how it's supposed to look or it's supposed to be. So seeing those guys play is definitely good for us."

On chemistry between him and DE DeMarcus Ware
"You don't really get that chemistry until it's like third-and-7 at the beginning of the fourth quarter and you're down like three points, or you're up by three points and you need a sack or a big play. You don't really get that chemistry until you're in those types of situations. You develop that in those types of scenarios. When we get to that point, I'm confident that we'll be able to perform to the best of our abilities and I'm looking forward to getting in those situations with him."

On if it'll be extra emotional against Seattle
"It'll be a preseason game. I didn't play last year, so I can't really just speak on that. It's going to be a pretty good preseason game. I know my teammates are feeling the same way I'm feeling about it, looking forward to playing those guys. They've got a great team over there-do a lot of great stuff. It'll be a great team to kind of gauge ourselves against in this preseason."

On this year compared to last year
"I'm in a great spot-spiritually, emotionally, physically. And I think that's where it all starts. I wake up every day, it's great. I've got great teammates around me, great coaches. We've got colorful people in the locker room. It's great coming to work every day. It was like that last year, but this year it's just different. I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do as a team this year."

On his injury timetable
"I live life 12 hours at a time. This first 12 hours from when I woke up to now, I'm feeling great. I've got to go and see what the next 12 hours will be but I'm positive if I can take it one minute at a time, five minutes at a time, I'll be alright. That's what's been working for me and that's what I'm going to keep doing."


On what he hopes to gain from the preseason
"Hopefully a lot of positives. First preseason game, we look at it as we're just trying to get positive plays every snap and eliminate all the negative plays that we can. So we're going to go out there with our base offense and I think the first preseason game is all about taking what you've learned in the classroom and applying it to the field. It's a basic game plan, and just sticking to your rules and just getting as many completions as you can, and just getting first down after first down and hopefully move the offense a lot."

On his play calling compared to QB Peyton Manning's play calling
"Last I checked we had the same playbook. Given each week, the game plan differs and I pride myself on knowing the entire game plan, the entire playbook, and if something's ever to happen to him, or whatever the case may be and I'm in the game, we're not going to have to change what we do because I'm the quarterback."

On if the intensity is different for Thursday because they're playing Seattle
"I can't answer that for everyone. I look at every game the same exact way. I'm going to go out there and give it my all and play as hard as I can."

On Seattle's level of intensity in the preseason
"They're the World Champions for a reason. We're going to go out there and we're going to play as hard as we possibly can. We're expecting their best game and we're going to give them our best game. At the end of the night, hopefully we're happy with the result."

On if the level of physicality has picked up in practices
"Yeah the red jerseys-or blue in this case-come off. But that's fun. That's what football's all about. Football's a physical game and that's-I don't want to sit here and say I enjoy getting hit, but shoot, that's what we all signed up to play. We all love the physical notion of it and I'm excited for Thursday night."

On if there are comparisons from year-to-year in the league
"Oh absolutely. Year one, it's almost like the goal is just learning the playbook. And then year two is apply it to the field. Eliminate those mistakes you were making in year one. And same thing goes from year two to year three. So from the way practices have gone from the start of training camp, and even back to OTAs, I feel like a completely different quarterback. I feel like I'm playing at a much higher level than I did last year and especially my rookie year. I have very high goals for myself and very high expectations and I expect to play well Thursday."

On getting reps with the first team last year on Wednesdays
"It was huge. With Peyton taking certain Wednesdays off throughout the season, it allowed me to work with the first-string offense which as a backup, you don't get a lot of opportunities to do. You don't take a lot of snaps with the starting center. You're not throwing to [WR] Demaryius [Thomas] and [TE] Julius [Thomas], who maybe run different routes or have different timing than the second group of guys that I'm used to. So to get those reps last season really helped me progress I think in this offense and just feel comfortable out there with the ones."

On how the tempo is different with the first-team offense
"It's always a little faster. It's always a little bit different. But that's one of those things you have to understand. ‘Hey, I'm in there with the first group right now, they play a certain way.' And you just need to acclimate to that and adjust and keep the sticks rolling."

On facing a defense with talent and depth
"I'm excited. There's no other team I'd rather play, first preseason game. Like I said before, they're the world champs and they're the world champs for a reason. I expect their best effort. They have a very talented defense that flies around and gets after it. So I think it'll be a great challenge for us, but I'm excited for that challenge and I think it'll be a lot of fun."


On his first game
"I'm just excited. I love games. Practice is cool, but I just love to play games, so I'll be ready."

On if he can feel the team's emotion from last year
"Yeah, definitely. I feel like that's obvious. Anytime something like that happens in the Super Bowl, you know that's going to happen the next year. Especially opening up that next year with the same team, you know it's going to be a little here and there. It's going to be exciting. It's going to be worth watching, so I'm just excited to be a part of it."

On the first preseason game against Seattle being a preview for their Week 3 matchup
"Yeah it's going to be good. Especially for me, I've never played them. [I went] against [Seahawks QB] Russell Wilson in college, but that's a totally different offense. It'll be great for me to get familiar with their offense and what they like to do so when Week 3 comes, I'll be ready."

On facing QB Peyton Manning in practice
"It can be frustrating because you can be in great coverage and he'll still stick it in there where only the receiver can get it. But it only helps because in the season, those guys aren't going to put it on there like he does. He's a Hall of Famer, one of the greats of all time. So going against him, making plays against him is giving me more confidence to go against other guys."

On if it's frustrating to face Manning
"It is what it is. Perfect offense beats the perfect defense, especially in this league. You've got to just wipe it off and get the next play in."

On if he's nervous for Thursday
"There's always going to be nerves any time you suit up for a game. I'm not going to sit here and say I'm not, but it's not going to be a big thing for me. You always get nervous, but I'm just excited to just go out there and go against somebody else and just really let it all out and show Broncos Country how I play, just familiarize myself with them. Get the crowd real hyped, playing against the Seahawks, it's going to be fun for me. Dream come true."


On if it's too early to determine how the defense is coming together
"It's too early. Right now we're still gelling together. We're all getting in our spots in practice. So I'm in there sometimes, [LB] Von [Miller] is in there sometimes, [CB] Chris [Harris Jr.] isn't in there at all. [S] Rahim [Moore] is not in there. [DE Derek] Wolfe's not in there at all. [DE] DeMarcus [Ware] is not in there. So everybody in there is spotty a little bit, so once we get it all together and get everybody jelling and putting their form I think we should be alright."

On if it's hard to find cohesiveness with so many moving pieces
"At the end of the day, everybody knows their job. At the end of the day, everybody knows what their responsibilities are and where they're supposed to be at on each call. With everybody doing their job and playing fast and physical and violent and doing the things on this side of the defense, I think that's where we get our cohesiveness."

On if the level of depth promotes competition
"Competition is good. Competition always brings the better in each other and in you. So you can't shy away from competition at the end of the day you have to embrace it and go attack. Other than that, I'm fine with it."


On how much you can learn from the first preseason game
"You can learn a lot. You can also see what type of depth you have on the defense and offensive side of the ball. Everybody's not going to get a lot of reps and they're going to try to roll in as many people as they can. It's a good opportunity to see how you look in backups and second team groups too."

On DT Marvin Austin
"If I could give him a grade right now it would be an A. He's been doing excellent. He came in and did pretty much what I thought he was going to do and that was just ball out and give himself a chance to make the team and help us win this year. I'm really looking forward to playing with him this year and he's getting better every day."

On how he would grade himself
"I've still got a lot of growing to do, but I definitely think I made a big jump from last year to this year in terms of being able to make plays and being able to know what I've got going on out there. I made a big jump; I just want the team to get better every day."

On where his comfort level comes from
"It came with a little bit of everything. Getting more physical up front, the playbooks, speed of the game, being able to have the experience that I had the second half of the season and all that combined really helped me out this year."


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