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Broncos Ready for Next Step

Posted Aug 17, 2012

With Friday’s conclusion to training camp, the Broncos now turn their attention to Saturday night’s preseason home opener against the Seahawks.


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Broncos preseason officially opened more than a week ago with a 31-3 defeat of the Chicago Bears.

But for many of Denver’s starters, the trip to Chicago didn’t quite feel like the real thing.

“It is a tease – I think it came at the right time,” linebacker Wesley Woodyard said. “It was a good feeling to get our feet wet, but now we’re going to be in there for a little while. I’m so excited and I know all my teammates are excited to get out there.”

Another big difference between the Broncos’ first preseason game and their second will be the venue. Tight end Joel Dreessen, a free agent acquisition this offseason, is entering his seventh season in the league, but this will be his first NFL game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

“I'm really excited to play at home,” Dreessen said. “If (the Summer Scrimmage) was any kind of idea how home games are going to be, it's going to be a lot of fun.”

Another reason Dreessen is looking forward to playing at Mile High is because he’s a part of its history. One of the highlights of his career as a Colorado State Ram came when he caught a touchdown in a rivalry game against Colorado.

“Yeah, I actually scored the very first touchdown in that stadium at a regular season (college) game,” Dreessen said. “They didn't let you keep the ball in college, though.”

With Saturday’s game against Seattle coming immediately on the heels of training camp, wide receiver Eric Decker is expecting the crowd to provide the players with a much-needed infusion of energy.

“It’s going to be nice,” Decker said. “When you get to Saturday, your body is sore. You’re tired, and to get that extra adrenaline from the fans and just the excitement level is going to be there. I think it’s going to be great for us. We’re going to feed off that and we’re going to try to put on a show for them.”

Quarterback Peyton Manning said the crowd can only do so much to establish a home-field advantage. It’s imperative that the players give the home fans something to cheer about.

“I know Coach Fox has talked about it all year that we’ve got to play well at home,” Manning said. “You’ve got to try to have that home field advantage and I know it’s important for the players to play well so the fans can be excited and make it tough on opponents.”

On the field, the defense will look to maintain the level it played at against the Bears, when it surrendered just 132 yards of total offense while sacking Chicago six times and forcing three turnovers.

“I’m really not looking to carry over anything; we just want to build on the first small step we took,” Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio said. “We want to play tough, we want to play sound, we want to tackle well, we want to hustle to the ball. Some of the basic things you want to establish as a defensive unit. We were off to a decent start last week, and we just want to build on that and grow from there and continue to tackle well, to fly to the football, to know what we’re doing, to be together, to be tough, to be sound, be smart.”

On the other side of the ball, the Broncos starters were pleased with the way they picked up yardage with Manning under center, but upset that Manning’s only series ended in an interception. Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy said finishing drives will be an emphasis against Seattle.

“Really for the entire team, (the goal) is to improve from last week,” McCoy said. “That’s what we want to stress every day here, is to get better every day, and that’s the way it’s going to be during the season, is to get better each week. Go out there and improve on something. Each individual player’s going to have something to do that they’re coaches are talking to them about. As an offense, we’ve got to make sure we finish in the red area. The first two times we had the ball last week, we got stopped in there. We turned the ball over one time, and (the Bears) got a field goal. We’ve just got to make sure we finish all those drives.”

The starters on both sides of the ball will have substantially more time to find a rhythm than they did last Thursday.

“We're maintaining our normal preseason routine,” Head Coach John Fox said on Wednesday. “Last week we did the firsts for the first quarter, seconds for the second and third quarters, and the thirds in the fourth.  It progresses this week. Our starters will play to the end of the second quarter. The seconds will take most of the second half and the thirds will come in late in the fourth quarter.”

For Manning, that means more opportunities to improve on what the offense was able to accomplish in limited action against Chicago. Regardless of how many series he plays, the goal will be to make the most of every snap.

“I still think it is a little bit more pressure that you’re only in there for a certain amount of plays and you want them all to go well,” Manning said. “It may be two series, two and a half to three series depending on how long the drives are and the flow of the game. You still have that feeling a little bit that you’re in there and you’ve got to have a sense of urgency. You want to do your job well and hopefully we can get a few more situations against Seattle and it’ll be a good test going against their defense.”

Friday morning’s practice concludes the Broncos’ 2012 training camp, which has been attended in a record fashion. Saturday night marks an opportunity for Woodyard and Co. to finally give those fans a taste of what this season has in store.

“We’re excited to get out there this time against Seattle and see what they have to offer,” Woodyard said. “You see the fans out here every day. It’ll be fun to give them back what they’ve been waiting for, and that’s a competitive atmosphere out here at the new stadium.” 

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