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Turning Up the Heat on Hanie

Posted Dec 8, 2011

Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen and the Denver defense hope to apply plenty of pressure on Chicago quarterback Caleb Hanie Sunday.


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- When a backup quarterback is forced into action for a postseason contender, the pressure to deliver is instantly immense.

The Denver defense wants to put even more pressure on Bears quarterback Caleb Hanie Sunday.

Hanie - a four-year pro who has played in just nine career games -- has stepped into the starting lineup for the injured Jay Cutler. Cutler helped lead the Bears to a 7-3 record before suffering a thumb injury in Week 11, and with Hanie under center Chicago has lost two straight.

The Denver defense he's about to face has been attack-minded all season, boasting a league-leading streak of 11 games with two or more sacks. And against a young quarterback who's been thrown into the fire, the Broncos hope to create more pass-rush situations where they can turn up the heat.

"When we have our opportunities to do it we're definitely going to do it. Relentlessly," cornerback Champ Bailey said. "I'm just glad we've got one of our guys back this week. He's going to make that very possible for us."

Bailey is referring to standout rookie linebacker Von Miller, who says he is "confident enough to play" this week after missing Denver's previous game in Minnesota with a thumb injury.

Miller has been practicing on a limited basis with an array of hard casts to protect his right thumb this week. The rookie said he's adjusting to life on the field with the cast and Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen is confident his productive young linebacker will be plenty effective Sunday.

"As long as they don't have anything on his legs I think we're going to be alright," Allen said with smile.

Miller leads all rookies and is currently fifth league-wide with 10.5 sacks on the year. Miller and his "partner in crime" Elvis Dumervil will provide another tough challenge for a Bears offensive line that gave up seven sacks last week in a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

"I thought Kansas City did a great job of attacking their protections," Allen said. "We always feel pretty good about our matchups on the edges because we've got Elvis and Von coming off those edges.

"We're excited about hopefully getting them into passing situations and see if we can cut those guys loose."

By pressuring Hanie in the pocket, the Broncos plan to speed up his decision-making process, which could lead to takeaways. In his two starts this season, Hanie has thrown six interceptions.

"We definitely want to make him make mistakes," Bailey said. "I'm sure they are going to try to minimize that as much as possible and not put him in those situations, but there are going to be times - he's got the ball in his hands every play."

"If we can create some pressure," Allen added, "I think we've got a chance to make some plays."