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New Arrivals Turn Broncos' Focus Forward

Posted Apr 21, 2014

While last season's end will motivate the Broncos in 2014, all eyes are pointed forward now that the offseason conditioning program has started.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Not every Bronco who will determine the eventual outcome of the 2014 season will find their motivation from the same source. What works for Peyton Manning or Demaryius Thomas doesn't necessarily have the same impact on free-agent additions like DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, Emmanuel Sanders and T.J. Ward.

The Broncos' free-agent pickups and eventual draft-pick additions can hear about how the 43-8 Super Bowl XLVIII loss to the Seattle Seahawks affected them. But they didn't live it. A desire to overturn final-game failure can't be the the only fuel.

"It is still a new season. There's a lot of players that are no longer here anymore. And so, the draft choices that we're going to have -- it is up to you to be a productive quarterback for these new players," Manning said. "Last year doesn't mean anything to the players that weren't here."

"I think when you think about the offseason and how far they got, sort of you have to let that be the motivating factor for this offseason," said Ware. "But you sort of have to put that behind you knowing that you have a whole new group of guys and it’s really not about the names on the backs of your jerseys, it’s about how you are playing with that guy beside you."

For the newest Broncos, Monday's workout represented the first glimpse at the new players beside them.

"It is their chance to get to know the Broncos' system, the Broncos' culture and a chance for obviously the returning players to get to know them," Manning said, using the need for Ware and Terrance Knighton to get on the same page as an example. "The more comfortable they can get in (Defensive Coordinator Jack) Del Rio's (defense), that's what you're looking for during this process."

The delicate composition of roster chemistry and how it can be affected by a handful of comings and goings ensures that this team starts from zero -- not from 28 wins, two AFC West titles and a conference championship in the last two years.

"What we talked about today was focusing on the now, focusing on this individual weightlifting session, this individual meeting -- trying to improve on the things we were working on today," Manning said. "I think to develop an identity and develop chemistry as I always say, takes time. Today was the first day of that process."

That embryonic stage means that this week isn't about starting to answer questions regarding this team -- in some cases, it's learning what the questions will be. For instance, Manning said it is "certainly possible" that the offense will be tweaked. But with the draft still two and a half weeks away, the Broncos don't know their hand, because the deck hasn't been completely dealt.

"I know the coaches are excited to see some of our new players -- Emmanuel Sanders and we've had some other guys we've added in free agency -- a lot of them on defense, obviously. Then, the draft -- you just don't know who is going to be available when we pick and whether we're going to pick on offense or defense early in the rounds or whatnot," Manning said.

"I think it's hard to say at this point, depending on who our personnel are going to be. I think it is very wide open at this point as to what kind of offense we're going to have based on the personnel because it's still up in the air at this point."

That keeps the short-term focus on the personnel at hand. Monday's work marked the first time players could watch film together with coaches. From those sessions, ideas and tweaks can arise that weren't considered before.

Among the most productive of these sessions will be the ones shared by Ware and fellow pass-rusher Von Miller. Ware said they watched tape Monday morning and began evaluating each other's moves.

"Some of the moves that he was doing on tape were some of the moves that I have been doing," Ware said. "I was critiquing him, he was critiquing me and it’s just a good thing to know that there are guys out there that look up to you. Now I have an opportunity to shed some advice onto him."

Manning got a head start with his newest wide receiver, Emmanuel Sanders. Sanders joined Manning at Duke University for the informal sessions with holdover Broncos targets like Demaryius Thomas, Andre Caldwell, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas, which allowed Manning to learn about Sanders' skill set and how to adapt to it.

"He's explosive. You can't hold the ball very long when he is running a route, I learned that," Manning said. "I know he's eager to learn. I know he was excited to get started today where he's allowed to meet with the coaches and learn the offense."

That's what defined Monday. For the last 11 weeks, the focus has been as much on Feb. 2 as the future. Now, the eyes are cast forward for good.