ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —** As a new practice week begins and the focus turns to the Detroit Lions, Broncos Head Coach Gary Kubiak reiterated the importance of establishing the rushing attack to set up the offense.
"The biggest thing right now offensively to me is protecting the quarterback and finding a way to make big plays in this league," Kubiak said. "The thing that enables you to do those two things is running the football, and we're not running the ball well at all, regardless."
The Broncos took to the practice fields Monday morning to start preparations for the Detroit Lions.
Physicality has become another emphasis to create that impact, and Kubiak wants to see that, no matter what formation the Broncos use.
"Regardless of whether you're under center or in the gun, I mean, you've got to be physical running the football," Kubiak said. "Being physical is a state of mind. It's an identity. It's a commitment. It's not something you talk about and go do. It's something you work at all the time."
After examining two games, Kubiak identified that the offensive line has to get better push at the line.
"Too many line-of-scrimmage plays where the line of scrimmage is ugly, nothing going on," Kubiak said. "We've studied the heck out of it through the weekend and obviously got to do some things to try to make it better, but you've got to get your guys space and sometimes they've got to create their own space, too."
Odds and Ends
… DE Kenny Anunike practiced for the first time since undergoing a knee scope Aug. 20. With fellow DE Derek Wolfe out with a four-game suspension, the Broncos have missed Anunike, who could make an impact in Wolfe's absence.
"Derek will be back in what, two weeks, so that's very encouraging," Kubiak added. "Kenny was playing really, really well in preseason so we're counting on him big-time. I mean, to have him totally healthy, to have [OLB Lerentee McCray] totally healthy—now you start to have problems with who you're suiting up. So that's a nice problem to have. We have not had that problem up to this point, so [it's] a good sign today to have everybody back on the field looking good."
... After a playoff season in 2014, the Lions are off to slow start with an 0-2 record to begin the season. However Kubiak sees the potential their offense can have with players like QB Matthew Stafford, WR Calvin Johnson and WR Golden Tate, and he knows they're no team to overlook.
"They're an explosive football team on offensive side of the ball. I think they were the No. 1 defense in football last year, if I'm right, or they were up there very, very high as a defensive football team," Kubiak said. "They've been missing the leader inside, they've been missing [OLB DeAndre] Levy for a couple weeks here, so that's been a big miss for them.
"But in this league you don't get too carried away when you're off to a good start and if you're not off to a good start, you keep your frame of mind right and keep going. It's a long, tough season. It's their home opener, another tough place to play. So kind of the same challenge we had in Kansas City, in a lot of ways."
… With Johnson's 6-foot-5-inch frame, Kubiak knows preparing for him will be a challenge, but it's one the Broncos cornerbacks are not strangers to with Johnson's similarities to Demaryius Thomas.
"You can do things coverage-wise and stuff, but still the thing that's tough is just the jump balls and the size," Kubiak said. "We all know what type of physical speciman he is, so regardless if you're doing things to double him or to so call 'take guys away,' they're just so physical. It's a lot like DT. He's just so physical. Even though Kansas City was trying to roll people over the top in help, he just makes a lot of plays on jump balls and tough stuff like that."
Kubiak continued, noting Stafford's arm and how dangerous Detroit's passing attack can be.
"It's a huge challenge, and the quarterback makes a lot of plays, makes a lot of off-schedule plays. They're going to get the ball in those guys' hands. I was there a couple years ago. They're very difficult and make it even more difficult to deal with in their place. So we've got our hands full this week. A different type [of] football team, offensively, than what we saw in Kansas City."
… Following his game-winning fumble return and big plays in the season opener on the final drive, CB Bradley Roby has followed through on his hard work over the offseason.
"Bradley's had a good offseason, good training camp and things tend to translate or continue to move in that direction," Kubiak said. "You look at Aqib [Talib and] the type of camp he had, you look at Bradley [and] how he's worked. Bradley's worked as a starter for most of the offseason because of Chris' things going on in camp. I think he's just reaping the rewards of his work. He's playing well."