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A ‘Tough Task’

Posted Sep 19, 2012

Denver's defenders talked about the impending challenge of stopping Houston's potent offense.


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- For the second week in a row, Denver’s defense will be tasked with stopping an offense that boasts Pro Bowlers at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end.

This week, it’s Matt Schaub, Arian Foster, Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels coming to town.

“They run the ball very well, they’re the number one rushing attack in the league,” linebacker Joe Mays said. “They like to throw the ball as well. They like Andre Johnson, they like Owen Daniels. Those are their top two targets but they definitely have a lot more weapons on the team too.”

Stopping the run will be a primary focus for Denver on Sunday.

That’s something that the Broncos have done well through the first two games, limiting opponents to just 2.6 yards per carry — good for fourth in the league.

“We have to continue that,” Mays said. “Especially with this team coming in, we definitely have to stop them and try to stop all their big plays because they definitely live off those, and just try to force them into passing situations so we can get pressure on them.”  

To continue that success against the run, Denver will have to adjust to the zone-blocking scheme that the Texans like to utilize.

“You definitely have to be technique-sound,” Mays said. “They can either hit it front side or hit it back side. You have to be technique-sound and take on your blocks the right way. Everyone has to be on the right page and in the right spot or else they can definitely take it to the house on you. That’s going to be key for us this weekend, and that’s what we have practice for – to come out and work on it.”  

Compounding that is the two-headed rushing attack running behind the zone-blocking offensive line.

Arian Foster ranks first in the NFL with 29 touchdowns and second in the league with 3,029 yards over the past three seasons. His backup, Ben Tate, nearly reached the 1,000-yard mark himself and ranked fourth among running backs with a 5.4 yard-per-carry in 2011.

“That’s first and foremost, stopping that run,” Mays said. "Arian Foster, he’s a great running back, he’s becoming elite here in the NFL. They also have a second-string guy, Ben Tate. That guy can take it to the house if you give him a chance too. Those two guys, we definitely have to stop them and force them into passing situations.”

When the Texans do turn to the air, the Denver secondary knows it’ll have a challenge on its hands.

“They're balanced,” safety Mike Adams said. “They run the ball well, throw the ball well —Schaub, he's very confident and poised in the pocket. He likes to get out of there and he makes all his throws."

Linebacker Keith Brooking played with Schaub in Atlanta when he was drafted in the third round by the Falcons. From the beginning, Brooking said he saw something in the young quarterback.

“Schaub was one of those guys from the very beginning, he got it,” Brooking said. “The way he carried himself, the way he conducted himself on a daily basis, you saw the potential, you saw the talent.”

Although Schaub has plenty of weapons to distribute the ball to, the most visible of those is his 6-foot-3 target in Johnson.

“Andre Johnson is one of my favorite players in the league,” safety Rahim Moore said. “Highly respected, a future Hall of Famer in my eyes, and he’s a great talent.”

Houston is one of just two remaining undefeated teams in the AFC. The Texans represent the next test on a slate full of playoff-caliber opponents.

“Every week is a tough test,” safety Rahim Moore said. “They’ve proven themselves. That’s the reason why they’re 2-0 and the reason why they went to the playoffs last year. They’re a great organization. They’ve changed some things around and they have some great players. It’s unbelievable. It’s a tough task for us, so we have to go out there and play like it’s our last game.”