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The Morning After: Week 3

Posted Sep 27, 2010

Two rookie linemen continued their strong play, the defense stepped up against the run and Perrish Cox made his first start versus the Colts on Sunday.


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Brandon Lloyd posted a new career high for receiving yards on Sunday against the Colts, but he wasn't singing his own praises in the locker room after the loss. Lloyd talked up two newcomers who don't play downfield.

Zane Beadles and J.D. Walton became the first rookies in franchise history to begin the season as starters at right tackle and center, respectively.

In Sunday's Week 3 matchup, both offensive linemen contributed to a unit that allowed only one sack to a team that had compiled six of them in the first two games - all of which belong to defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.

"I think the highlight of the game for me is the way J.D. is playing at center and the way Zane is playing at right tackle," Lloyd said.

"It's a big confidence builder for me as a receiver knowing that these guys stepped up to the challenge and were able to neutralize those two phenomenal players,"

Along with Ryan Clady, Stanley Daniels and Chris Kuper, the two rookies helped keep Kyle Orton upright in the pocket, buying their quarterback enough time to throw for 476 yards -- the second-highest single-game total in Broncos' history.

"It's incredible," Lloyd said. "I'm really impressed by the way these rookies are out there playing, especially to come up against Mathis and Freeney. This is probably the biggest game of their lives. They've  never played against anybody with these guys' talent, and then they neutralized those guys."

While Lloyd credited the rookies, Indianapolis' Head Coach Jim Caldwell singled out the player who corralled Dwight Freeney away from the pocket all game. Freeney's teammate on last year's AFC Pro Bowl roster, Ryan Clady, caught the coach's eye.

"Clady's one of the best guys in the league, and he did a great job protecting the quarterback today," Caldwell said.

Kuper watched Clady dominate from his first game with the Broncos, and now he's watching Beadles and Walton grow up. At right guard, he plays in between the two rookies.

"This is their third game being able to start," he said. "I think they're getting better every week. It's hard to take positives out of a game like this, but that could be one of them."

A ONE-DIMENSIONAL OPPONENT

Colts' running backs Joseph Addai and Donald Brown combined for 161 yards on the ground last week in Indianapolis, but the tandem only produced 41 rushing yards yesterday at INVESCO Field at Mile High.

"We did a decent job of trying to limit them from becoming two-dimensional," McDaniels said. "Against the Giants they ran the ball real effectively, and we didn't want that to happen."

By clogging the running lanes, the Broncos defense knew what it was going to see from Peyton Manning.

"They didn't run the ball very well, so if he knows he can't run the ball, then he's going to throw it," Champ Bailey said. "That's what he's done all year. He did exactly what we thought. We shut their run game down, but on the back end we've got to take care of business."

Indianapolis mustered just 1.8 yards-per-rush, but the obvious passing situations that resulted didn't keep Manning from compiling his third straight game with three touchdown passes.

"Obviously he got the pass game going in a situation like that -- they kind of got away from the running game," Mario Haggan said. "It could've been whether they wanted to go to the pass or whether we were just stopping (the run). They didn't do it a lot, but obviously the pass was working for them a little bit."

A FIRST START

With Andre' Goodman out of the game with a thigh injury, Perrish Cox became the fourth Broncos rookie since 2005 to start at outside cornerback. He led the team with four passes defensed in a baptism-by-fire against Manning, but also fumbled a punt that was recovered by the Colts.

"Anytime you play a player like Peyton, he's going to go after you and attack you some," McDaniels said. "Perrish, I thought he played better earlier and then he gave up a few things later in the red area. But he's a young kid that has a lot of ability, and I think every time he goes out there, he's going to get better and hopefully he'll learn from this experience."

That's not to say Manning didn't take his shots at Bailey. Manning threw at the Pro Bowl corner four times in the opening series of the game to test out Bailey's foot injury that caused him to miss practice earlier in the week.

McDaniels knew the Colts wouldn't shy away from Bailey as much as some teams, mainly because they often had Reggie Wayne lining up across from him.

"Those are two really good players playing against each other and a really good player throwing it to him," the coach said. "They're not going to back down from anybody -- that's their style -- and they shouldn't."

Whether Manning was going after Cox, Bailey, or anyone else, Haggan said it's the whole team's responsibility to shut down the quarterback.

"We had faith in the guys we put out there to make those plays," He said. "Everybody has a job to do. Even when we had people doubled he looked for them, so there's not one person to point out. We've just got to make the plays when they come to us, and that's the bottom line in this league."

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