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Hostile environment 'Just the way we like it'


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --** Aqib Talib has played the Seahawks in Seattle once, back in Week 15 of 2009, the corner's second season in the league when he was on the Buccaneers.

The Seahawks lost 24-7, part of a four-game losing streak to end a 5-11 campaign that got Jim Mora Jr. fired as head coach, making way for Pete Carroll. But the home crowd -- which helped its team to a 4-4 record at home that year -- still made an impression.

"It was quite loud," Talib said Wednesday. "It was loud five years ago and they weren't close to as good as they are now, so I can imagine how it's going to be on Sunday."

Sunday will mark the Broncos' first trip to Seattle in the regular season since 2002, the first year after their old AFC West rival moved to the NFC West during the NFL's realignment. They have traveled there twice in the preseason recently, in 2009 and 2013, where the crowd noise was still quite palpable, especially for exhibition games.

"They're like that throughout the season, whether it's preseason, regular season, playoffs," Seattle corner Richard Sherman said of Seattle's fans during a conference call with Denver media on Wednesday. "It really gives us a chance to feed off their energy."

The Broncos are well aware and are planning accordingly, starting with changes to the music that blares at practice -- Head Coach John Fox noted the need to "make it louder" -- and keying on silent communication.

"We're going to have to lean on each other and really play with a lot of focus out there this weekend," Julius Thomas said.

"It's something you have to concentrate on, prepare during the week," Peyton Manning added. "Be on the same page and work extra hard on communicating, lip reading and whatever you've got to do so all 11 guys are trying to do the same thing."

In addition to making communication more difficult, the crowd noise can help the defense's pass rush get off the ball at the snap quicker, with the offense using a silent count instead of a hard count. The Broncos helped shore up the team's pass protection this offseason when they moved Orlando Franklin to guard and installed Chris Clark as the starter at right tackle, offering more beef inside and more mobility on the edge opposite the returning Ryan Clady. That move could pay dividends against a versatile group of rushers in Seattle's defense.

On the other side of the coin, the Broncos' defense will get a break of relative silence after two rowdy games at Sports Authority Field at Mile High against 2013 playoff teams. Talib says he expects to "be able to whisper and hear each other" as the crowd quiets for Russell Wilson and Co. to operate on offense.

Check out the best shots from Wednesday's practice at Dove Valley, where Wes Welker was back on the field.

Through all the hype about facing the defending Super Bowl champions on a field where they've gone 18-1 over the past three seasons, it's easy to forget Sunday is also the Broncos' first regular season road trip of 2014, period. The team's last time heading into the stadium of a playoff-caliber opponent was in Week 13 of 2013 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

"I definitely get extra hyped up going on the road," Chris Harris Jr. said on Monday. "I love playing on the road and feeling like it's just us against the world, so that definitely gets me more amped up."

Terrance Knighton echoed those thoughts on Wednesday, while saying the opponent certainly adds to his anticipation.

"No I haven't been this excited (for a regular season game)," Knighton said. "Saturday when we get on that plane, a lot of guys' adrenaline will start boosting. It'll be a hostile environment and that's just the way we like it, with our back against the walls."

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