ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --The Falcons offense and Broncos defense have something in common as they enter Monday's matchup.
Both have watched plenty of Peyton Manning quarterbacking a no-huddle offense.
Denver's defenders see it daily in practice, while Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has watched it on tape as the Atlanta offense has incorporated more and more no-huddle into their offensive game plan.
"I think he kind of set the benchmark for quarterbacks playing in that no-huddle system really in the modern era," Ryan said. "I think if you're not looking to see how he does it and to see some of the things that he does in it, you're putting yourself at a disadvantage. I think every quarterback in the league will tell you that at some point or another they've watched what Peyton's doing to try and learn from it and take some of the things that he does and apply it to what they do."
Since the Broncos defense has gotten plenty of first-hand looks against a Manning-led no-huddle offense, Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio expects them to be ready to handle whatever the Falcons throw at them on Monday night.
"We certainly got enough looks at it during camp, during the OTAs and everything with our own offense," Del Rio said. "It's something that teams that have smart, talented quarterbacks like to utilize. They have one and so do we."
MANNING MAKES OPPORTUNITIES
One of the many aspects that quarterback Peyton Manning brings to the offense is his pre-snap reads that help turn a potentially negative play into a positive one.
A great example of that was his 400th career touchdown pass, a 71-yarder to against the Steelers.
Earlier in the game, Pittsburgh blitzed from the left side and sacked Manning. This time, he saw the blitz coming before the snap and delivered a strike to Thomas, who had nothing but blockers and green grass between himself and the end zone.
"I look at it as it's an opportunity for a big play," Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy said about facing a blitz. "That's the way we've always been from the very first day in back in Carolina."
Having a signal caller like Manning gives McCoy another coach on the field that can adjust the play to the way the defense reacts to a formation and give the team a better chance.
"When teams come at you, when you have a good quarterback, he can get you in a good situation, or if it's not, audible – he knows where the hots and sights are to get rid of the ball and make a good decision," McCoy said. "Because, like you saw in the game the other night, one little mistake on the defense, or something that we put him in a bad situation with, you can make a big play with it."
CARTER READY TO COVER
If cornerback Chris Harris, who missed the first two days of practice this week with an ankle injury, isn't able to play against Atlanta, Tony Carter could be the next man up.
The fourth-year player out of Florida State has played eight career games, including one start.
Fellow cornerback Champ Bailey has noticed Carter's improvement in the four seasons since he joined the team the first time as a college free agent in 2009.
"I think he understands what he's great at, and I think that's part of maturing when you're a pro, to know your strengths and know your weaknesses," Bailey said. "The guy, you see his speed, you see how quick he is. Now it's just showing up because he understands how to play the game now. That's the reason we kept him—he's a great cover corner, and those are hard to come by."
Carter emerged from a competitive and crowded position to make the roster out of training camp after splitting time between the Broncos' practice squad and active roster last season.
"He just was one of the top guys in the group," Del Rio said. "We end up keeping five corners over there and he was one of the top five and that's the way it worked out. That's why he's here."
Should Harris miss the game, the team will count on Carter and rookie cornerback Omar Bolden to fulfill the team's "next man up" philosophy.
"We have got good depth at the position," Head Coach John Fox said. "We feel good about who we'd have out there."