ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —** Sunday's matchup between the Broncos and the Bears must make for an odd feeling for much of Denver's roster as they prepare for a team coached by many familiar faces.
Former Broncos head coach John Fox was hired in the same role for Chicago, and Denver colleagues Adam Gase (offensive coordinator), Dave Magazu (offensive line), Sam Garnes (assistant defensive backs), Jay Rodgers (defensive line), Jeff Rodgers (special teams coordinator) and Derius Swinton (assistant special teams) joined his staff.
Gusty winds forced the Broncos indoors for Wednesday practice at the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse at the UCHealth Training Center.
"I've got a lot of love for Coach Fox," nose tackle Sylvester Williams said. "Everybody in this locker room has a lot of love for Coach Fox. He was a great guy for us and obviously it's no hard feelings. Like I said, it's kind of like going to play your family. Obviously you want to win so you can have bragging rights, just like I know he feels the same way over there."
The impact Fox has had on players like Williams resounds with other players, too. After all, Fox and many of those coaches are part of the reasons why they're in Denver, and why they're playing at the level they are.
"Them taking a chance on an undrafted kid, that's huge," running back C.J. Anderson said, reflecting on how they impacted him. "And then just the relationship you have with Coach Fox and Goose [Gase]. They're good people, they're good coaches. There's a little bit when you see them before the game. 'Hey, what's up?' But when you get between the lines during kickoff, it's just time to get it in."
Quarterback Brock Osweiler, preparing to make his first NFL start, is well aware that a familiarity with the Bears' coaches could give them a little bit of an advanced scouting advantage.
"I'm sure that he [Gase] knows a few things," Osweiler said with a chuckle. "How many secrets and things like that—shoot I don't even know what I have. I hope he doesn't look too hard into that and try to do a crystal ball thing over there, but at the end of the day, it's just a football game. Eleven guys are going to line up against 11 guys and we have to go play ball. I'm not going to really buy into the what ifs, 'What could they possibly do? What has Coach Gase told the defensive staff?' I'm not going to buy into that. I'm just going to go out there, believe in what I see and go play football."
But as the Broncos come off a two-game skid, the result is more important for its impact on their trajectory than the ties to the sidelines.
"I'm happy to see them, but we've got to go out and get the win," wide receiver Demaryius Thomas said. "That's all that really matters right now.
"It's just about the Broncos just getting back on track. We've lost two in a row. The main thing is trying to go out in Chicago and get a win."