ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — When he was a kid, D.J. Jones says, his dad would tell him, "Act like you been there before."
It's a saying that sticks in the back of Jones' mind, and it's one that helps him stay grounded and calm.
But on Monday, Jones knows that at Seattle's Lumen Field, it will be hard for any visitor to stay calm, even though Jones quite literally has "been there before." As a divisional opponent, Jones played three games in Seattle, and he considers it to be the most hostile environment in which he's played during his NFL career.
That's not always a bad thing, though, as the former 49er said on Friday.
"For me, it's energetic," Jones said. "It gives me energy. Always has. I love playing out there, it's one of my favorite places to play. The fans are gonna be in it from the beginning to the end. Pregame [until] once you're walking off the field, they're gonna still be there. But they're loud. 'The 12th Man' is real."
However, the noise will not be at full roar when Jones and Denver's defense are on the field, generally speaking. Seattle's crowd will want to ensure the Seahawks offense can communicate easily against them.
Instead, it'll be when Denver's offense is on the field that Seattle fans are at their loudest, hoping to disrupt the lines of communication that run from quarterback Russell Wilson all the way down the line to the receivers split out wide.
On Tuesday, Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett said they would utilize crowd noise at practice and "turn it up as loud as we possibly can" to prepare for the experience. Offensive Coordinator Justin Outten also said the preparation goes back well beyond just this week, as well.
"That is something that we worked [on] in the offseason, and that is something that we are preparing for," Outten said Friday. "I know a lot of questions were happening [like], 'Why don't you do seven-on-seven? Why don't you do one-on-ones?' These are in preparation for games like this. You want to have silent cadence not be new to them Week 1 in a loud environment. You don't want the offense doing separate things. You want to be working together, all 11 [players], as much as we can. These are the advantages that we have not doing those sevens-on-sevens and one-on-ones. You get to let the system go and kind of let it flow."
READY FOR THE REAL THING
Most of the Broncos' rookies probably won't play key roles in Monday's game, but if there's one who is the most likely to, it's Montrell Washington.
The receiver out of Samford made waves during training camp and came out of the preseason as the Broncos' starting return specialist after averaging 16.3 yards per punt return and 27.5 yards per kick return.
In Seattle, Washington will see his first regular-season action for the Broncos. Special Teams Coordinator Dwayne Stukes said he'll communicate with Washington about what depth to field punts or let them go, but if he had to give him a message about his first game in general, it would be simple.
"It's football," Stukes said. "He's been doing it his whole life. Nothing has changed, and we really need to ignore the outside noise because there are only going to be 22 people on the field at one particular time. Everything is going to happen between the white lines. That's his main concern — not the crowd, not Russell returning to Seattle, not all of the other hoopla that is surrounding the game. It's about him focusing and doing his job to the best of his ability. That's all we asked of him to do."
Asked about expectations for Washington, Hackett emphasized that it will be a process, as it would for any rookie seeing their first action.
"I think any expectation for any rookie — it's a process for them," Hackett said. "Coming from one system to a new system, and the adjustment to the speed. For any rookie, it is very difficult, especially in the environment that we're about to go into. Obviously, we always want them to be the best version of themselves. We're going to do everything we can to make it so that he can contribute consistently."
In the locker room on Friday, Washington seemed ready to start that process off on the right foot.
"It's crazy, but I'm just ready," Washington said. "I'm looking forward to it and ready to get out there make the plays I need to make."
A TRIAL RUN
Like Jones, Defensive Coordinator Ejiro Evero shared a saying that he found meaningful on Friday.
"We've got to stop the run to have some fun," Evero said.
He said he thinks the Seahawks will "no doubt" try to test them early in Monday's game in that regard.
Rashaad Penny will be Seattle's most dangerous weapon on the ground, as he carried the ball 119 times for 759 yards and six touchdowns in 2021 on a 6.3-yard-per-carry average.
"I think it's just the whole defensive scheme, the whole mindset we have of wanting to stop the run," Hackett said Thursday. "… It's a challenge for them to be able to stop No. 20 [Penny]. That whole offensive line, they are a very good run-blocking offensive line and very well coached. So, we just have to step up to that challenge, because we know that's what they're going to do."
Jones, whom the Broncos signed to bolster their run defense, said he welcomes the challenge of an opposing team trying to impose their will on the ground early.
"I wish they would," Jones said.