ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Broncos’ 2012 campaign won’t officially kick off until Sunday at 6:20 p.m. MDT.
But the transition from the offseason to the regular season began with Monday’s practice, when the team officially set its sights on its first opponent – the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“It’s here,” linebacker
Entering his 14th year in the NFL, wide receiver
“You could tell today the tempo got taken up a notch and it’s just going to continue to do that,” Stokley said. “But it’s always kind of a different feel when you’re done with the preseason and you’re heading into the first week of the regular season. You can just tell. It’s a different attitude, different feel out there. It’s always great heading into that first week.”
Rookie running back
“It’s going to be my first experience of a real game and you get the whole atmosphere of it,” Hillman said. “Hearing everything, going through everything, just going through the practice right now leading up to a game, it’s something new.”
With the results of the preseason now irrelevant, the only thing that truly matters is how Hillman and his teammates perform going forward.
“Now it’s real,” Hillman said. “It’s on the record now. It doesn’t get erased. Now it’s preparing for (Pittsburgh) and getting ready.”
Woodyard said the start of the regular season means the nicks and bruises sustained during training camp go out the window.
“Now it’s no time for the soreness and the pain,” Woodyard said. “That’s all gone with summer camp. Now it’s at that (16)-game stretch that we’re waiting for.”
The showdown with the Steelers is just the first of many steps in a long 16-game season, and Head Coach John Fox said the team is looking for a strong start.
“It’s like any race,” Fox said. “How you come out of the starting blocks is important, so it’s something we’re emphasizing and trying to do (to) the best of our ability -- like our opponent, Pittsburgh, is. It’s always important. They’re all really important games.”