ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Wednesday marked the Broncos' first practice in pads in preparation for San Diego this Sunday, and it came with Jack Del Rio running the show.
Now the interim head coach/defensive coordinator, Del Rio said he is honored to have been entrusted by Head Coach John Fox to lead the club in his absence.
"I'm just doing the best I can to lean on the players and the staff we have here and make sure that we carry on," he said.
Quarterback Peyton Manning said Del Rio has been "excellent" this week.
"It's very easy to see why he's been a head coach for 10-plus years," Manning said. "He's got great leadership, good command of the room and Jack's a good leader. I think guys will answer the bell and follow him."
Del Rio said the team has already shown a readiness to step up in Fox's absence, doing whatever it takes to make sure there is no dropoff.
It was obvious, the interim head coach said, in Wednesday's practice in preparation for the Chargers.
"We were very businesslike," Del Rio said. "I think our guys were attentive in meetings and came out and practiced well, practiced with spirit, practiced with the focus we need to have to get ourselves ready. I think that's really what it's about – something occurs, and you've got to adjust and then how do you handle it? Can you get your focus back and get back in the groove and do the things you need to do? I feel really good about the way it started this week."
In his new role, Del Rio said his schedule has changed a bit, but for the most part the team has stayed in its normal routine.
There have been two team meetings and two practices under Del Rio, and while Shaun Phillips said the new head man has his own way of running the team, "we still have Coach Fox's voice in our ear."
Del Rio joked that he will have "very little" input into the offensive side of the ball, and won't implement any changes on special teams, either.
"We have good people there, they're doing their job," he said. "I will be in charge of game-day decisions."
He'll handle what he called the head-coach duties, which include making decisions like whether to go for it on fourth-and-1 or send in the kicking unit.
Most of all he'll lean on the leaders around him.
"I think we've got a good group; we've got a good veteran core and good leaders we've talked about, a good staff," Del Rio said. "I think what happens is typically what happens when something goes on that causes a void, that we all work hard to kind of collectively fill the void and help each other out. That's really the sense that I get."
Manning said that Fox will remain in the team's thoughts and prayers as he recovers from heart surgery, and that it will take everyone on the team to make up for his absence.
"It is probably impossible to replace Coach Fox's high-energy, charisma, personality," the quarterback said. "So that cannot be replaced by one guy and Coach Del Rio mentioned that. All of the players, everybody has to try to step that up in that department to fill that void."
"At the same time, when it's time to work out there, guys are working and we're following Coach Del Rio's lead."