Dennison looking for balance in bounce-back**
In Sunday's loss to Indianapolis, an early 17-point deficit forced the Broncos offense to turn away from the balance that contributed to its finest performance of the season, a 500-yard outburst in a win over Green Bay. They were able to even the score in the third quarter, but another Colts score had the offense playing catch-up again, and the eventual result was the Broncos' first loss of the season.
With just 14 rushing attempts against the Colts to 37 passing plays, C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman struggled to get in rhythm, and defenders found their way into the backfield for four tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
"It's a challenge. I don't know if it's maddening; you can't let it get to you," Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison said. "We're just trying to find different ways to move the ball, and certainly balance is one of the ways we believe in."
In recent weeks, the tight ends corps has been a major part of the balance, helping drive the edge in the rushing game and showing their prowess as receivers. Owen Daniels and Virgil Green totaled 105 receiving yards against Green Bay and 115 yards against the Colts.
"They all play off each other. If we can run the ball, if we've got more people that can catch the ball, they've got to cover more people," Dennison said. "It's like I said last week: the more options you have, the better off you're going to be. We certainly like to have as many guys out there that can stretch the field and make them have to defend them. So, one less guy in the box hopefully helps us in the run game and if they put it down, then we can stretch with him."
Phillips confident in depth facing Chiefs offense without Jamaal Charles**
For many NFL teams, missing two Pro Bowlers would deplete a defense. For the Broncos—who have five Pro Bowlers on defense alone—it is an undesirable challenge, but one that they have prepared for with the rotation of young players through eight games this season.
"You don't want, obviously, your Pro Bowl players out, but it happens," Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips said. "We've got to step forward. We've had a guys that have played, though, in those positions, which helps us.
Relive the Broncos' series history with the Chiefs with photographs dating to the teams' AFL roots in the 1960s.
"We've had different guys out at different times—[S] T.J. [Ward] was out, [DE Derek] Wolfe was out four games. That's what you have to do in this league."
With CB Aqib Talib suspended for the week and OLB DeMarcus Ware recovering from a back injury, the Broncos can lean on the likes of Bradley Roby and Kayvon Webster at cornerback, and Shaquil Barrett and Lerentee McCray at outside linebacker, as well as Shane Ray, should he be ready to go on Sunday after making his return to practice on Wednesday.
"Shane Ray has come back pretty strong," Phillips said. "We still practiced in pads today. We'll see how he is tomorrow. That's a factor of how sore he is or if there are any setbacks, but he's practiced well so far this week."
The Chiefs have reeled off two wins in as many weeks before hitting their bye week, and they've done it without Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury against the Bears in Week 5. In his stead, the Chiefs have relied on RB Charcandrick West, who has totaled 207 rushing yards in the previous two games.
"Jamaal is obviously from Texas, so that hurts them with him being out," Phillips said, giving his customary mention to his home state. "They've played really well. They're playing well. They scored 40-something points the last game that they played and they've had two weeks to get ready for us. Obviously, we had a really close game the first game, so we're expecting a big battle and we're trying to get ready for it."
Bolden's touchdown a promising start
Safety Omar Bolden had fielded six punts in the preseason in the past four years in the NFL, but never had he done it in the regular season prior to facing the Colts in Week 9.
With WR Emmanuel Sanders nicked up with an ankle injury, Bolden made his debut, and he sure made the most of it, returning the punt 83 yards to end the first half. It ended Indianapolis' 17-point run and sparked the Broncos' 17-point rebound to tie the game in the third quarter.
"We were very fortunate to get that ball before halftime the way it was," Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeCamillis said. "I think our guys have been learning different techniques than what they've had here in the past. I think it all helped us out on that one, obviously, and they all came together fortunately on that one.
"They've been working at it and I think they're going to get better as we go. Hopefully we can get more big returns. We need to keep getting as many returns as we can, no question."
And with Sanders unable to practice as of Thursday, Bolden could see more time returning punts.
"We'll see what happens. Emmanuel hasn't practiced, obviously, as you all know this week. We'll see how it goes going into the weekend," DeCamillis said. "It was a great play by [Bolden]. I just wish we would have made more, to be honest with you. It's nice to get a play like that, but it didn't result in a win. [We have] got to keep working."