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Competition in the trenches sharpening Broncos' offense and defense for regular season


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —** Whether the offense or defense is winning the battle on the ground simply depends on whom you ask.

The victor is obvious, if you ask safety Darian Stewart.

"The defense is definitely winning," Stewart said. "They've broke some good runs and they have great vision amongst all four of [the running backs]. I definitely consider us winning since we started camp."

Broncos fans set a training-camp record on the eighth day of camp. (photos by Gabriel Christus unless noted)

Not so fast, says running back C.J. Anderson.

"We're running the ball effectively," he said. "We're finding the right spots. We're picking the right spots."

Defensive end Derek Wolfe, who is obviously championing the defense's efforts, refuted that notion, saying the proof is in the pudding — er, the tape, rather.

"I've seen it on the film where everybody is fitting in the same gaps and holding the point," Wolfe said. "[NT] Domata [Peko] is doing a great job in the middle, [DE Jared] Crick is holding it over there — he's put on some extra weight. Our linebackers are hitting and we're fitting really well."

In the media or on the field, no one's budging. But the players know who wins these battles isn't really important. Rather, it's how their altered approaches to the run on offense and defense fare against other opponents. Based on their impressions so far, the outcome will be positive.

"I think our offensive line is doing a great job," Wolfe said. "They're nasty, they're playing mean and playing tough. They're way bigger — [OT] Menelik Watson is a huge dude. [G] Ron Leary, me and him are going to make each other better because he's a great player and I'd like to think of myself as a pretty good player."

Anderson likewise thinks the defense is stouter against the run.

"They're doing a really good job," Anderson said. "Their linebackers are running completely different than what they did last year."

If it all adds up, the offense or defense still may not decisively edge out one another on the ground, but it might just be enough to consistently edge their opponents on both sides of the ball in 2017.

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