ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Instead of taking the field on Sunday, many of the Broncos sat at home and watched football on their televisions, enjoying the bye week. The break was much earlier than usual this season as the team only has three games to look back on, but the players have been working hard all offseason and appreciated the time off.
Montee Ball went to his alma mater, Wisconsin, and watched the Badgers defeat South Florida 27-10. Head Coach John Fox watched NFL RedZone and Terrance Knighton did "absolutely nothing."
"I stayed out here in Colorado and I got a chance to explore the state," Rahim Moore said. "It's beautiful. I went to some nice restaurants and I really enjoyed just getting to know more about my state. A lot of times, we just come here to play football and then we kind of leave."
"This time, I just wanted to settle down and just check out the landscape, the trees, the mountains, stuff like that. I really enjoyed it. It was much needed."
The Broncos are back at Dove Valley after their bye week. Check out photos from Monday's practice.
The time for exploring Colorado's nature came and went and it was back to business as usual on Monday as the Broncos practiced and continued preparing for Sunday's matchup against the Cardinals.
Moore called it "surprising" to have the bye so early in the season as he is accustomed to having the break closer to the middle of the season. He didn't watch any football on television, but he still worked out on Sunday, following his pregame ritual.
"Whenever you get a bye, it's not fun, because you want to play football," he said. "But at the same time, it is needed, because we've been nonstop."
The Broncos are back to going nonstop; preparing for the 3-0 Cardinals is not an easy task. Fox describes the Cardinals as a "very, very good football team." He complimented their coaching staff and their defense's performance during his press conference on Monday.
While the Broncos had the bye week to recover after a tough first three games of the season, including a physical battle that went to overtime with the Seahawks, there isn't much drop off in competition level.
"I think when we looked at the schedule, six out of the first eight were playoff teams from a year ago and the team coming to town [Sunday] somehow didn't make the playoffs," Fox said. "Obviously it was the rules but they were 10-6, very, very good football team that's sitting at 3-0. [Cardinals Head Coach] Bruce [Arians] has done a great job with that football team. They've got very good players really in all three phases and it will be a tough, tough test here in Denver."
The Cardinals are fifth in the NFL in yards allowed per game and are 2-0 with backup quarterback Drew Stanton at the helm. It's possible that Carson Palmer, who is recovering from a shoulder injury, will play on Sunday. They're an arduous opponent. Unlike the Broncos' first three opponents, the Cardinals were not a 2013 playoff team, but their status as just one of two remaining undefeated teams is no fluke.
They shut the 49ers out in the second half during the Week 3 win and rallied from a 11-point fourth quarter deficit to defeat the Chargers in Week 1. Moore said the Broncos need to be prepared for Sunday's game or "it could be ugly."
In the four games following Sunday's, the Broncos have two East Coast road trips to face the Jets and Patriots and also take on the 49ers and AFC West rival Chargers at home.
When the Broncos received their 2014 schedule, they knew it would be a tough battle facing so many talented teams early on. While the bye week was early, it provided the team with the perfect break before continuing their march through a tough first half of their season.
"I feel fine and I think it was a perfect time for our team to rest with those first three games we had against tough opponents," Knighton said. "As long as we do what we have to do and let the pieces fall to where they're supposed to be, we'll have another bye come playoff time. So as long as we do what we got to do, we'll have plenty of time for rest, but now is the time. This will be a stretch where we have to really buckle down."