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The Morning After: Preseason Week 3

Posted Aug 28, 2011

The offense continues to establish balance, Julius Thomas shines and the kickers show off their strength.

DENVER -- When Head Coach John Fox arrived in Denver, players learned quickly that the new-look Broncos were going to strive for a balanced offensive attack.

It's clear the Broncos have begun to reestablish the ground game, evidenced by 148 total rushing yards in Saturday's 23-20 victory over Seattle.

And wide receiver Eric Decker insists that production in the running game helped create downfield passing plays for the offense, which accounted for 450 yards in total.

"There's no question. Getting those safeties to come down into the box, getting eight men in the box, it really exploits them down the field," Decker said. "We've done a great job of staying balanced, and that's our biggest key this year -- to run and pass."

Routes opened up Saturday off of play-action as the Seahawks were forced to respect the Broncos' commitment to running the football, leaving targets open for big plays.

Running back Knowshon Moreno said he can sense the team's offensive improvement and knows that his work running the football will continue to open things up for the Denver receivers.

"We try to stay balanced with the run and pass and at the same time we have some good receivers on the outside that can make plays and stretch the defense and put some points on the board," Moreno said. "If we stay balanced we can be successful."


Rookie tight end Julius Thomas has impressed throughout training camp and into the preseason and last night he made his presence felt.

Thomas tied Eddie Royal and Eric Decker for the team lead in catches with four while leading the Broncos with 70 yards receiving on the night. He served as a security blanket at times on third-and-short and was also able get free in the secondary at times for big chunks of yardage.

"It feels good to be able to get some balls and make some catches," Thomas said. "It's something that the team knows I can do and to come out and do it in a game feels good for me."

Quarterbacks want to have trust in their tight ends to make tough catches in traffic and the rookie says his work with the first-team in practice has allowed some chemistry to develop with Kyle Orton.

"Being able to practice with those guys everyday and slowly having Kyle have more belief in me -- It's going to continue to get better for us out there," Thomas said. "I think he has faith that if he puts the ball in my direction I'll find a way to come up with it and make a play. That's encouraging for me to get some trust from Kyle."


Matt Prater and Steven Hauschka showed off their kicking power throughout the night.

Prater knocked the ball through the end zone on every kickoff attempt - something he quite enjoys.

"They're still fun," Prater said of kickoffs after the rule changes. "It's a stat - I like having all the touchbacks."
In addition, Prater connected on a 57-yard field goal and Hauscka drilled a 51-yarder that proved to be the game-winner as time expired.

But the most discussed kick of the night was the one that fell just short.

With four seconds remaining the first half, Prater came on to attempt a 69-yard field goal. His kick was on line but was unable to clear the crossbar as time expired.

But Prater is confident he'll convert from that distance if a second opportunity arises.

"I know I can get (69) or whatever it was," Prater said. "I know I can hit that… Hopefully I'll get the chance to do it. "