ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- As Head Coach John Fox likes to say, the addition of Peyton Manning at quarterback will "raise all boats" for the Broncos.
The signal caller's first day on the practice field during OTAs Monday drew positive reviews, and his offensive teammates are anxious to build with him toward the season.
Earlier this month, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas proclaimed he's preparing for his "best year yet" working with the future Hall of Fame quarterback.
But the defense believes it can benefit just as much.
A common phrase in the media room Tuesday was, "I'm just glad he's on my team."
"For one, you just want to go to him and ask him as much as possible because it's his job to read coverages as well," cornerback Tracy Porter said. "Having an elite quarterback that can do that like Peyton – you go and ask him questions. 'If I'm playing this technique, what does a quarterback usually look for?' If he has any questions on why I played a certain technique, we help each other. He's very knowledgeable of the game, so it can go both ways."
In the offseason, Manning can help prepare the club for what's to come when September rolls around. But once the regular season hits, that's when he really pays off -- for both sides of the ball.
In fact, cornerback Drayton Florence is already excited about the benefits of potentially playing with a lead.
"That's going to be fun when you have a lead and you can build on that lead with the type of offense we have," cornerback Drayton Florence said. "It enables the defensive coordinator to send a lot of pressure toward the quarterbacks. If we can do that and play with a lead early, which I haven't done a lot in the last four or five years, turning Von (Miller) and (Elvis) Dumervil loose and letting them get after the quarterback takes a lot of pressure off the secondary."
Defensive tackle Justin Bannan is plenty familiar with what preparing for Manning means to an opposing defense, having faced him in the playoffs with the Baltimore Ravens.
"I think a guy like Peyton Manning, the pressure it puts on defensive coaches, when you're putting that game plan in on Wednesday and getting ready to play this guy, you wouldn't believe the pressure and the intensity the defensive coordinator feels to figure out what this guy is doing," he said. "I came from a D-coordinator like Rex Ryan in Baltimore and these guys would watch hours and hours and hours of film on him just to find something. I think he's one of the few guys that it's (darn) near impossible to find something on him that you can key on. He switches things up so well."
In other words, the Broncos are glad Manning's on their side.
"When I heard he was coming here, I definitely jumped for joy," safety Mike Adams smiled.
PRESSURE FROM INSIDE
One of the best ways to stifle an opposing offense is bringing pressure from a pass rush.
The Broncos have that pretty well covered on the edge, with 2011 Pro Bowler Elvis Dumervil and 2011 Defensive Rookie of the Year Von Miller as the centerpieces of the attack.
But Fox said what can really bother a passer is pressure from the interior of the defensive line.
"It's something that we're building on," Fox said in a conference call with season ticket holders. "I think we injected some currency in the draft this year inside. I think our perimeter of pressure is maybe as good as most with Elvis and Von Miller on the edge. We've just got to increase our pressure inside, because that's what makes quarterbacks uncomfortable. That's something that we're building and hopefully we get there sooner than later."
When asked about how the the defensive tackles are working on their pass rush, Bannan said there's only so much they can do during OTAs.
"I think it's great, but when No. 18 is out there, you better stay the (heck) away from him," he laughed, referring to avoiding contact with Manning. "We're going to talk about pass rush, but I love my job at the same time.
"So we're going to work on our pass-rush techniques, but at the same time, let's be smart out there."
A LOOK AT THE WIDEOUTS
On Monday, Manning touted the benefit of finally lining up against a defense as opposed to throwing passes against air.
OTAs provide a similar situation for the defense.
"(It's) definitely (better), because you're out there and we basically have to envision a receiver out there running a route and that's fairly difficulty," cornerback Tracy Porter said of offseason conditioning prior to OTAs. "You're basically learning the defense – receivers, they can run any route. Coaches can come out and say, 'They're going to run this route,' but you never know what they're going to run. Being out there against the offense going full speed – that's definitely a big help."
And Adams has already been impressed with what he's seen from the offense -- even if he was confused about one of the receiver's positions.
"It's a young group, pretty impressive," Adams said. "It's my first time really seeing DT (Demaryius Thomas) in action, and I thought he was a tight end. Don't tell him that (laughs). He's a big boy, and he's got some nice, soft hands for being big. Seeing (Brandon) Stokley in the slot, finally playing with him instead of against him in that slot, he still has it. He's still got every little bit of quickness that he had seven years ago, five years ago. I'm excited. It's a young group, but Peyton Manning is getting them ready."
Adams described himself as a competitor, and said it's important for everyone on the team to approach the game with that mentality.
"You just don't want to give anybody a position," he said. "I just had a talk with the young guys in there. Rahim Moore had a great day today. I told him, 'Don't make it easier for me. Don't make it easy for Quinton (Carter). Don't make it easier for anybody. Make it hard for the coaches to make a decision who's going to start and who's going to play when September comes.' That's what I'm all about. I'm all about competing. I'm all about making everybody better, including myself."