ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Ample respect for Colts quarterback Andrew Luck from Von Miller is where today's roundup begins ...
1. MILLER: THIS YEAR, LUCK "LOOKS EVEN BETTER"
The next sack Miller gets off Luck will be the first.
As has been the case for the entire Broncos team, Miller has struggled to bring down the strong, mobile fifth-year veteran. In four games against the Luck-led Colts, the Broncos have averaged one sack every 28.3 pass plays -- well below their rate of one sack every 15.8 pass plays against the rest of the league.
In last November's game in Indianapolis, the Broncos hit Luck 12 times. Just one resulted in a sack, and he averaged 8.4 yards per attempt every time he managed to release the football.
"I've gotten close, but he just has that knack for keeping his eyes downfield, feeling defenses and still making great passes," Miller said. "And this year, he looks even better. He's able to roll out, have two guys on him and throw crazy passes."
And even though Miller was effusive in his praise of Luck Thursday, he feels like the Colts' signal-caller deserves more respect than he's provided.
"He's definitely tough. He's Andrew Luck," Miller said. "I think over my years of going against him, the respect that he should get, I don't feel like I've given it to him. He's one of the best quarterbacks in the league."
- DEMARYIUS THOMAS' HIP REMAINS SORE, BUT HE EXPECTS TO PLAY SUNDAY**
Still, he acknowledged that he has to exercise caution as he recovers, after playing through a neck injury last year.
"The hip comes with a lot more things, especially with what I do as a receiver: stopping out of breaks, going downfield, even taking hits," he said. "I take hits with my neck, as well, but with my hip, you never know."
After suffering the injury on his second reception last week, he sat out Monday's practice before returning Wednesday. Thomas' workload did not increase Thursday, but the prominence of his repetitions did.
"He pretty much took the same amount of snaps; it's just that the snaps were a little more significant as far as what we asked him to do running routes," Kubiak said. "He ran really well today."
Added Thomas: "I feel like it's been getting better every day."
The Broncos were back on the practice field on Thursday to get ready for Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts. (Photos by Eric Bakke unless noted)
- DeCAMILLIS ON RILEY DIXON: "INCONSISTENT"**
"He had a nice punt on the 54-yarder," Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeCamillis said, but after a night in which Dixon's three punts were 42, 44 and 54 yards, DeCamillis wants to see more consistency and distance -- particularly on the 42-yarder with 3:17 remaining that left the Panthers just 20 yards from viable field-goal range.
"You can do some things," DeCamillis said. "We've watched some tape. We've watched some tape of other people around the league, in trying to get him to where he's locked into his technique and what makes a successful punter in the league, and that's what we're going to keep doing with him."
Some of the issues could be attributed to rookie jitters.
"I've seen it with a lot of rookies, not just punters," DeCamillis said. "He did have a great warmup, and that's why I don't get really jacked up about the warmups anymore, because I've seen it with 10-year vets, too. So he's just got to keep working, and I think he will. I think he's going to be a really good player down the road."
Dixon's net average was solid; at 42.7 yards, it was 10th-best in the league for Week 1. But good coverage against Ted Ginn Jr. -- particularly from Kayvon Webster, Andy Janovich and Cody Latimer -- made that possible.
"I thought the guys covered well, which was good holding Ginn back," DeCamillis said. "But we're going to have to see better, and that's what I said going into last week: We want to see him progress as the year goes on."
- NO ONE IS MORE THANKFUL FOR ANDY JANOVICH THAN VIRGIL GREEN ...**
... and that's because Green doesn't have to do much at fullback anymore.
"I'm glad that it's not me back there," said Green, who occasionally worked at fullback in recent years.
"Andy's back there handling business," Green said, smiling.
It helps that Janovich is a better physical match for the fullback role; at 6-foot-1; he's a stouter, shorter presence than the 6-foot-5 Green.
"Those linebackers are 5-11, 6-1," Green said. "That [the height] is just the toughest part."
With the knowledge that Janovich can clean up and block a linebacker who steps into the gap, it becomes easier for the offensive linemen, Green and other tight ends to focus on their one-on-one matchups, knowing that Janovich can clear up any free defender.
"It's great to know we've got a fullback back there that's physical, that's a dog," Green said.
- THE BUSIEST ROOKIE WAS JUSTIN SIMMONS ...**
... but he still has a ways to go in his progress.
With 49 total snaps on defense and special teams, Simmons played seven more snaps than Janovich, who was the second-busiest rookie last week. He did a good job getting downfield on special teams, but also had some first-time mistakes as he assumed the nickel alignment/dime personnel sub package role held by David Bruton Jr. last year.
"He played young," Kubiak said.
"He made a couple of rookie mistakes, I thought, but came back from [them]," added Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips.
After a preseason spent moving around and even seeing some snaps in the box, Simmons lined up deep for most of last week's game, and was rarely tested downfield. That could change Sunday if Luck buys time to try to find receivers like Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett downfield.
"[Carolina's] longest pass was 18 yards, and [Simmons] was mostly in deep-middle stuff, so he wasn't involved that much," Phillips said. "But we trust him enough to play him on all of our third downs. We feel like he's got a good future."