ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –The Broncos defense in the first six games has racked up 17 sacks – putting them in the top-10 in that category in the NFL.
The defensive unit has done so without its team leader in sacks from a season ago, but that comes to an end this week as Von Miller returns from a suspension.
"I think he'll come in here and he's going to be hungry," defensive tackle Malik Jackson said after the Broncos' 35-19 win against Jacksonville. "He's going to be real hungry. He's going to be itching to get those sacks under his belt… It should be real fun to watch."
Champ Bailey, who made his 2013 regular-season debut against Jacksonville, said that he expects that Miller will make an impact but he won't be able to do everything by himself.
"When you have a dynamic player returning to your lineup, he's definitely going to cause some problems for people, but we can't rely on him to do everything," Bailey said. "It's an 11-man game, so we've got to make sure we do our part."
So far this season the defense has done its part – doing what has been required of the group to maintain the undefeated start. Safety David Bruton said Sunday that getting Miller back would be huge, but the Broncos have done a "great job" in the pass rush so far this year.
Bruton listed off all of the guys up front and credited them for their work in getting pressure on the quarterback and added that with Miller added to the mix, they'll be even more effective.
"They've done a great job getting pressure on the on the quarterbacks and (Miller is) just going to add another dynamic to our defensive rush," Bruton said. "You expect to see more sacks and more turnovers on defense."
The Broncos' 35-19 win might not have featured their best execution of the season – a season-high three turnovers, a season low in yards – but it was enough to secure their sixth win of the season.
"At the end of the day, a win is a win," wide receiver Eric Decker. "But we know we could play a lot better. We knew from the start all this talk about lines and whatnot – this is NFL football. And we knew we had to come to play. We made some mistakes offensively. We thought the defense really played well, gave us some good field position. The best thing about this team is that we always find a way to win."
Quarterback Peyton Manning added that it was a good win for the Broncos but one that would provide an opportunity to "learn a lot from the film."
"There were some good things and certainly some things we can correct," Manning said. "Some mistakes – a bad decision to throw on the interception giving them the touchdown. I pulled out on a snap early under center, caused that fumble and then Manny (Ramirez) had a low one on the shotgun play down there.
"(There were) some good things as well that we can learn from and that's what we have to do."
Julius Thomas, who pulled in his seventh touchdown of the season Sunday, agreed that this game would be a learning experience.
But at the end of the day, the important thing was that the team earned another win.
"It wasn't clean, it wasn't how we would have liked it to go," Thomas said. "We made some mistakes out there and it's something that we'll learn from. We'll clean it up. We have to play better. We can't have turnovers. We can't have missed assignments. We got a little sloppy out there for a while but ultimately we were able to win another game."
For the first time in his NFL career, Manning will play in the city of Indianapolis as a visitor. The Broncos will take on the 4-1 Colts – who play their Week 6 matchup with San Diego on Monday Night Football.
Bruton said after the Jacksonville game that they would enjoy the win for a couple of days before focusing on the next task.
"Come Wednesday we're on to the Colts and playing for Peyton and playing for (Jacob) Tamme because they're going back to their old team," Bruton said. "We'll just go ahead and put forth that hard work and continue to get better on a weekly basis."
Wide receiver Wes Welker, who will travel to face his most recent former team in Week 12, added that the focus won't be on any of the outside factors, just on trying to get better and the game plan for the Colts.
He also said that he didn't think playing his old team would have Manning any more inspired than usual.
"I think he wants to put on a great performance no matter who he's playing," Welker said. "He's a competitor who wants to go out there and be perfect all the time. Hopefully all of us can go along with that."