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  • Thu., Oct. 23, 2014 3:00 PM - 6:30 PM MDT Orange Night Ride

    The year's Orange Ride is scheduled for Oct. 23, 2014 with a start time of 4:30 p.m. from the Denver City and County Building. We have put together a list of activities leading up to that night's Broncos game against San Diego. We hope to see you there!
    3-4 p.m. Pregame fan rally in front of Denver City and County Building
    4:30 p.m. Ride departs Denver City and County Building to Sports Authority Field at Mile High
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    And don't forget that the Broncos and Denver B-cycle have teamed up to offer a new bike valet service for home games for the 2014 season, giving fans a place to park their bike in a secure place staffed by B-cycle volunteers!
  • Thu., Oct. 23, 2014 6:25 PM MDT Denver Broncos vs. San Diego Chargers The Denver Broncos take on AFC West opponent the San Diego Chargers on Thursady Night Football on NFL Network.
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  • Sun., Nov. 02, 2014 2:25 PM MST Denver Broncos at New England Patriots The Denver Broncos travel to Gillette Stadium to take on the New England Patriots in a rematch of the 2013 AFC Championship. The game will be broadcast on CBS.
  • Sun., Nov. 09, 2014 2:05 PM MST Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders The Denver Broncos face their AFC West foe Oakland Raiders on the road. The game will be broadcast on CBS.
  • Sun., Nov. 16, 2014 11:00 AM MST Denver Broncos at St. Louis Rams The Denver Broncos face the St. Louis Rams on the road at 11 a.m. MST. The game will be broadcast on CBS.
  • Sun., Nov. 23, 2014 2:25 PM MST Denver Broncos vs. Miami Dolphins The Denver Broncos take on the AFC East Miami Dolphins. The game will be broadcast on CBS.
  • Tue., Nov. 25, 2014 6:00 AM - 4:00 PM MST Thanksgiving Turkey Distribution Denver Rescue Mission Annual Thanksgiving Turkey Distribution
  • Sun., Nov. 30, 2014 6:30 PM MST Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs The Denver Broncos travel to Arrowhead Stadium to face AFC West foe the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football on NBC.
  • Sun., Dec. 07, 2014 2:05 PM MST Play 60/Fuel Up to Play 60 Tribute Game Play 60/Fuel Up to Play 60 tribute game. Teams will be recognized before the team's game against the Buffalo Bills.

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Nickel D Now ‘the Norm’

Posted Jun 7, 2014

With NFL passing attacks becoming increasingly dangerous, Jack Del Rio says sub-package defenses are more important than ever.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Just because Jack Del Rio doesn’t want to call nickel defense the NFL’s new base formation doesn’t mean he underestimates its importance in today’s league.

“I don’t consider the nickel the base, just because of the semantics of it,” the defensive coordinator said with a little laugh. “Base is base. Sub is sub. But (nickel) is the norm. It is the most frequently played defensive unit.

“I think last year, 66 percent of our snaps were in the sub package. You’re playing more and more 3-wide receiver sets, or even 2-tight end sets where the second tight end is really almost like a wide receiver. So you’re playing a lot of sub downs, so we’ve adjusted accordingly.”

Some of the adjusting has come from the front office, which acquired another Swiss-Army-knife pass rusher in DeMarcus Ware who, like Von Miller, can line up all over the formation. Likewise, signing T.J. Ward promotes nickel and dime flexibility by offering a more mobile “linebacker” option.

With a rash of injuries in 2013, Del Rio’s sub packages had to be frequently restocked. A year after featuring the league’s eight-fewest unique lineups (225) during the regular season, the defense trotted out 484 unique lineups in 2013, 35 more than any other team.

The greatest constant in 2013’s frenzied rotation was Chris Harris Jr., the nickel corner in sub packages and No. 2 cornerback in base defense. Before tearing his ACL in the playoffs, Harris led the defense with 1,042 regular season snaps, 266 clear of the next defensive back, left cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. And if his playing time doesn’t illustrate his value well enough, Harris noted Wednesday that the nickel corner is the key to unlocking defensive schemes.

“I know just from talking to [quarterback] Peyton [Manning], when he’s trying to figure out a defense he looks right at me to tell him exactly what type of [defense] we’re in,” Harris said. “Since I know that he’s always watching me and trying to figure it out, that’s a huge position.”

Harris’ skills in the slot will be missed if he isn’t ready to start the season. Perhaps equally important, one less body at corner in a league Del Rio says is seeking “more space and tempo” would be a challenge to overcome. By adding free agent Aqib Talib and 2014 first-round pick Bradley Roby to 2013 third-round pick Kayvon Webster and sixth-year veteran Tony Carter, Denver hopes to be strong at positions that keep gaining significance.

“I’d say the fourth corner becomes a little more important because you can never have enough,” Del Rio said. “And the reason people say that is because if somebody gets nicked, is tired, whatever, or something happens with the helmet, you have another guy that can go in. That’s a good position to be in.”

“So three is a necessity, I think, nowadays. I think having a fourth guy that is very capable is also very important.”

The in-season rotation is still far from being determined and certainly dependent on the health of Harris. But one thing’s for sure: Whenever Harris is ready, he’ll be on the field a lot.

“Pretty much, [nickel is] all we run,” he said. “That’s pretty much our main defense, really.”

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