ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –** The Broncos have been preparing for the Sunday night's game against the Colts for months. Circled on their calendars, it marks the dawn of a new football season.
But for the Broncos' defensive line, the players they will line up across are vastly different today than they had anticipated a few weeks ago. The Colts seem to be plagued with injuries up and down the line in what Andrew Luck said is almost like "a horror movie."
The Colts' starting guard Donald Thomas re-tore his quad in the preseason, ending his return party before it began. Starting center Khaled Holmes sprained his left ankle during the Colts' preseason opener and just returned to practice on Wednesday with limited participation.
Colts tackle Ulrick John has a broken ankle and rookie Jack Mewhort has been struggling with a hamstring issue. The line added Jamon Meredith and A.Q. Shipley within the last week. Both Joe Reitz and Xavier Nixon are not expected to play on Sunday.
Needless to say, it's been a hectic few weeks for the Colts' line.
This game is what the Broncos have been preparing for all offseason and so many of the Colts' linemen lack substantial film to study. Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio says the moving pieces on the offensive line aren't a concern for the Broncos.
"We're familiar with the guys that may be in there," Del Rio said. "We understand that they'll approach it much like we do: 'next man up' and expect to play well. So we're getting ourselves ready and we know it's a good group and defensively we want to make sure we're ready to do our part. Make sure we help our football team get this 'W.'"
During the preseason, Colts gave up 14 sacks for 72 yards.
Both defensive tackles Sylvester Williams and Marvin Austin agree that the personnel changes do not affect how the Broncos will prepare and that schematically the Colts are the same as last season.
"They're still great players," Williams said. "I mean, I watched film on them. They're still all good players. They're all physical and stout. So we've got to go out there and be dominant and play the game we know how to play and try to come out with the most dominant group."
When the Colts handed the Broncos their first loss of the 2013 season, the Broncos were outrushed 121-64.
While the Colts look very different, the Broncos defensive line looks different too. Last season the Broncos were able to bring Luck to the ground twice in their matchup. But new Broncos defensive linemen, specifically DeMarcus Ware and Austin, will look to make an impact in their Broncos debut. They will look to take advantage of the Colts' beaten and battered offensive line.
But Ware said he's focused on how he and the rest of the defense play, not on the Colts' lineup changes.
"I think the first game and any game after that, you've always got to be confident going into those games," he said. "You can't look at if a guy is young or how many years he's played, or if the offensive line is beat up or not. It's all about how we play and we've got to get out there, starting with the front four and being effective and it has to start this week."