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A Running Focus

Posted Sep 7, 2011

The Broncos are preparing to stop Oakland's potent running attack.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- As the Broncos prepare to meet the division-rival Oakland Raiders Monday night for both teams' first regular season game, one theme has been consistent in the locker room.Stop the run.
In the Broncos' two games against Oakland last season, the Raiders rushed for 592 yards, 328 of which came in the first meeting in Denver.
"They were running the ball on us, scoring at will," linebacker Joe Mays said.
Running backs Darren McFadden (284 yards) and Michael Bush (76 yards) did most of the damage over the span of those two games. The Raiders will still trot out the duo Monday, and the Broncos know they need to focus on limiting their production.
"They always run the ball well," linebacker Mario Haggan said. "Darren McFadden's a tough runner; Michael Bush is a tough runner. The Raiders are a fast team, period, so they always present different matchup problems with their speed and their size."
After Oakland's running performance last year, the Broncos have made some changes and believe they have what it takes to stop the Raiders ground game.
As many as seven new players are in line to start on defense for the Broncos that didn't start the game in Denver a year ago, which Oakland won 59-14. Included in that group are defensive end Elvis Dumervil and linebacker Von Miller, two players who spent plenty of time in opposing backfields during the preseason. That, combined with a new defensive coordinator who brings an attacking mindset to the team, has the players excited to get out on the field.
"I think there's a new attitude of the defense," cornerback Andre' Goodman said. "We have new personnel, a new coaching staff, new scheme, and you like to start fresh; you like to put a good product on the floor."
Haggan backed up Goodman's sentiment.
"This is a new year," Haggan said. "There are a lot of different pieces, a lot of different things that we're doing. I think we built some things in training camp, and I truly think it's going to carry over starting Monday night."
If the Broncos are successful in their game plan, Oakland quarterback Jason Campbell should throw plenty of passes. In last year's win in Denver, he had only 20 passing attempts, a number that should rise if the Broncos can stifle McFadden and Bush.
"It's one of those things where we try to force a team into being one-dimensional, and when I say that, force them into passing the ball and force them into passing situations," Mays said. "So, first and second down, we know the Raiders -- or any NFL team -- they like to run the ball and see where they can start. Once we do that, once we stop the run, we try to put them in passing situations and attack them from there."
The Broncos have looked at some film from the two games last year as they prepare for Monday's opener. But for the whole team, the mindset is that this is a new year and both teams will hit the field with a fresh record and clean slate in front of a national audience.
"We definitely look at film from last year and especially from the preseason, but we're not thinking about the score when we played them last year," Mays said. "Right now, we're just looking for ways that we can beat them on Monday. The guys are pumped up and we're looking forward to the game."

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