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Broncos Embracing Butterflies as Opener Nears

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –Peyton Manning has played 15 season openers over the course of his career.

But all of that experience won't help keep away those butterflies that accompany kicking off the season against the defending Super Bowl champions in front of a primetime national audience this week.

"I think if you don't, you ought to be doing something else," Manning said about getting those pregame butterflies. "So (this is my) 16th opening day and I've played in this opening game three times. It's got a little something extra to it. I think everybody will be excited and have some healthy butterflies. I think it's a good thing."

Even though these NFL players have been performing in front of crowds their entire careers, that doesn't mean they don't get nervous like anyone else would before a big audience.

"I think I get butterflies every game," wide receiver Demaryius Thomas laughed. "I try to tell myself I don't, but I do. I get nervous every game, but after the first play is over with, it's all about business. But before that first play, I always have butterflies."

With the game drawing closer, so are those initial anxious feelings.

"No question. Who said we stopped getting butterflies?" tight end Julius Thomas smiled. "First game of the season for anybody and we're excited. It's four days away -- you can already start feeling it a bit."

It's been a while since the players have laced up their cleats for a game that counts in the standings.

So once those initial nerves go away on Thursday, it will become just another game.

Albeit with a raucous crowd that has been waiting eight months to fill Sports Authority Field at Mile High and cheer on the Broncos.

It just so happens that the last time the fans filled the stadium for a Broncos game, the Ravens were the opponent.

"It is going to be a playoff-like atmosphere out there," Ravens running back Ray Rice said. "It's my second time playing in Denver. It won't be as cold, but I'm sure it will be probably one of the hardest hitting games of the year."

Wide receiver Eric Decker said he's not looking ahead to gameday with three days of preparations still to go. But when time comes for the fourth-year receiver to take the field, he knows he'll be feeling that combination of nerves and excitement.

"Every time you run in that tunnel it's a mix of being anxious and a mix of being a little nervous," Decker said. "It's good. If you've got those feelings you know you're ready to go and ready to play. I'm definitely, at this point, worried about practice itself.

"But when that day comes, I know I'll be ready."

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