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Ready to Renew the Rivalry

Posted Sep 11, 2011

The Broncos are set for tomorrow night's season opener against the Raiders.


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- It's a test the Denver Broncos are anxious to take.

The Broncos' 2011 opener features a meeting in Denver with the division-rival Raiders -- a team that defeated the Broncos twice last season -- under the bright lights of Monday Night Football.

"What more could you ask for?" Mario Haggan said.

A win at Sports Authority Field at Mile High to start the new campaign is what he and his teammates have in mind.

And in order to come away victorious, the Broncos know their defensive effort against a dynamic Raiders' rushing attack must improve from a year ago.

Throughout the week, the Broncos have been reminded of last season's 59-14 loss to Oakland and running back Darren McFadden's 165-yard, three touchdown performance.

But Oakland Head Coach Hue Jackson is anticipating a completely revamped opposing defense in Denver.

"There is a different mindset on defense by them," Jackson said. "They have really good coaches - John Fox is a defensive-minded coach and he's done a great job in his career and I'm sure a lot of that has rubbed off over there "The players are playing with a lot of enthusiasm and passion and I think it's a very different defensive football team and a very good defensive football team."

Throughout the preseason, the Broncos have displayed an improved run defense and have developed confidence under new defensive coordinator Dennis Allen's 4-3 scheme.

Middle linebacker Joe Mays is eager to see if that preseason success carries over in Week 1.

"I think this is the best (test)," Mays said. "The Raiders -- they love to run the football. They have Darren McFadden, they have Michael Bush, but they also have an electric rookie coming off the bench. It'll be a testament to what we've been working on."

Cornerback Champ Bailey knows Monday is the first step towards building success and creating a new identity on defense.

"We are just trying to find our identity and what we're going to be," Bailey said. "The only way you create an identity is by going out there and doing it.

"We've just got to go play and let it speak for itself."

Offensively the Broncos plan utilizing a running game of their own under Head Coach John Fox to produce a balanced attack against the Raiders.

Kyle Orton has some new pieces around him - including running back Willis McGahee -- to help power that attack and the quarterback is excited to see the offense come together in the regular season and execute.

"We're excited. Preseason, practice, really all the way around we liked the additions we made to this offense," Orton said. "We like our tight ends. We like our backs. And I think the receiving corps is playing really good football so we'll see how it happens on Monday."

Both teams have made changes since last season with new head coaches on both sides and plenty of roster turnover.

But the rivalry between these two remains intact, regardless of who is wearing the uniforms or calling the plays.

"Everyone in the building understands what that rivalry is," Fox said.

Monday night the rivalry continues as the Broncos' 2011 regular season gets underway.

"It should get you hyped," safety Brian Dawkins said. "It should get you hyped."