ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Early in Denver's preseason opener against Chicago, inclement weather and a red-zone turnover threatened to make for a long first night for the Broncos. But the skies cleared up and the team rebounded from to turn in a dominant 31-3 victory over the Bears.
Three Broncos quarterbacks tossed touchdown passes, the defense forced two turnovers and racked up six sacks and the coaches saw strong play throughout the roster as Denver outgained Chicago 338 to 132 in total yards.
"We made a good first step," Head Coach John Fox said. "We've got the one game to look at. It'll be fun to be in our own stadium with the preseason home opener this weekend. Again, it's just another test and we try to get better every week. We'll see how that goes."
Despite the strong all-around effort, Fox elected to have the team practice in full pads instead of holding a walkthrough in shorts.
"I think the easy thing to do would be to bring them out in shorts shortly after playing in a ballgame," Fox said. "We've got certain opportunities to go in pads and build the mental toughness of our football team, so I thought they responded well. I thought the whole practice was crisp enough."
Linebacker Wesley Woodyard said the win against the Bears gives the team a solid starting point as it continues to use the preseason to make sure everything is running smoothly by the start of the regular season.
"We've come some ways," Woodyard said. "We've still got to take advantage of these opportunities that we have these next three preseason games, and just take it in full stride. We had some good things this past game, and we've got to continue to keep building on them."
IRVING STANDS OUT
It was hard to single out just one player from a strong defensive effort that held the Bears to just 132 yards of total offense on Thursday.
With two sacks apiece by defensive linemen Jeremy Beal and Derek Wolfe and a fumble recovery by linebacker Von Miller, it would have been easy for second-year linebacker Nate Irving to get lost in the shuffle.
But Irving, who played sparingly during his rookie season, shined against Chicago, leading the team with five tackles, including one in the backfield. Irving said he feels like a different player than he did his rookie year, when he spent a lot of time trying to adjust to the speed of the game.
"My first year here, I can admit, I went out there and I was like, 'Wow. It's the NFL, (I've got a) big game ahead,'" Irving said. "I had butterflies and everything. This year, being through a year, going through the offseason and practicing, it was just like going out there and playing football again."
Irving said a full offseason has made a world of difference. He now understands everyone's assignment on defense, and recognizes how the defense matches up against opposing offenses.
"It's a whole lot more fun than it was last year," he said. "Last year, it was just like scrambled eggs. I was just trying to run around and trying to get everything right, hopefully. But this year I know more about what I'm doing and I'm able to do it."
Head Coach John Fox on the play of the offensive line:
"I think for a first outing they did fine. There's always room for improvement. That's one of the great things about playing preseason games. It's the first time in game situations against another opponent. They've been practicing against our defense and Chicago presented some different issues. All-in-all, they reacted very well."
Fox on Willis McGahee's potential production in 2012:
"Even last year, I obviously had great respect for Willis from watching him and competing against him. I thought he stepped in last year and did a tremendous job. He's come in here in great shape and I look for him to build on top of that and have a bigger season. I've been real pleased with Willis, how he's gone about his business and his performance on the field."
Linebacker Wesley Woodyard on whether the Broncos defense is flying under the radar:
"That's how we like it as a defense. Let the offense get all the credit, and at the end of the day, we've just got to be there to do our job and make sure we're playing as hard as we can."