ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A unique challenge lies ahead of the Denver defense in trying to contain quarterback Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers.
While the Broncos have already faced eight Pro-Bowl quarterbacks this year, none have possessed the combination of abilities that Newton does. With more than 1,000 yards rushing and nearly 6,000 yards passing in his 24 games in the NFL, the second-year quarterback is the definition of a dual-threat.
"He runs the ball and throws the ball," safety Mike Adams said. "He's got a big, strong arm. He's got a cannon. We've got to limit him. We've got to limit his runs, because he's athletic. At the same time, we've got to contain his arm."
At 6-foot-5, 245 pounds, Newton is bigger than any of the Broncos linebackers. His combination of size and speed make him difficult to bring down in the pocket and illusive once he gets out of it.
Both Head Coach John Fox and defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson used the adjectives "big," "physical" and "fast" in describing last year's NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Linebacker Von Miller added that his strength often goes unnoticed or overshadowed by his speed.
"I don't think he gets enough credit for him being strong and able to shed defenders," Miller said. "He sheds (tacklers) like Ben Roethlisberger."
Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio faced Newton in Week 3 of the 2011 season as the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars and held him to his lowest total yardage of the year, as the quarterback mustered 158 passing yards and 27 rushing. Carolina won the game by not giving the ball away.
This year, turnovers have been Newton's kryptonite. Of the Panthers' 15 giveaways in 2012, 11 have been from Newton - eight interceptions and three fumbles lost. He also fumbled another five times that his team recovered. That's one way the Denver defense will look to gain an edge.
"He's not the modern-day quarterback, the pocket passer," defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson said. "But if we can force him into doing some things that he doesn't like to do, it will be good for us."
But ripping the ball away from him won't be easy with Newton's strength.
"He's a big, strong, guy," Miller said. "You have to attack the arm and attack the body to get the ball out."
But if the Broncos defenders get too aggressive on defense, they could be in for a long afternoon.
"He's big, for one, and when he runs, he's hard to get down," cornerback Champ Bailey said. "He'll make you look stupid, and he has a cannon."