ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Last Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, the Broncos put together arguably their most complete offensive effort of the season.
While quarterback Peyton Manning threw for 305 yards, running backs Willis McGahee, Ronnie Hillman and Lance Ball combined for 222 yards on 39 carries, averaging 5.7 yards per touch.
"I knew we were going to have a good day," McGahee said after the game. "We just showed glimpses of what our offense can do when we all work together."
Hillman's 14 carries for the most the rookie has seen all season, and Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy said that gets back to a philosophy he has shared with Head Coach John Fox since their days together in Carolina.
"We've always played two guys and we kind of just roll guys, who's hot, if they get on a roll and just let them keep going," McCoy said. "Then when they've got to tap out because they're getting tired, put the other guy in and just go with the flow of the game, really."
Hillman, who McCoy said has improved every week, chipped in 86 yards to McGahee's 122 as the Broncos piled up 530 yards of total offense against New Orleans.
McCoy said the offense will look to continue that sort of one-two punch going forward.
"Being a running back, you're going to get beat up a little bit as the year goes on and that's why it's always nice to have a couple backs to just keep staying in the flow of the game," he said. "(Hillman) and Willis and Lance kind of go as the game goes along and we'll let whoever's playing well get in there."
PORTER A FULL PRACTICE PARTICIPANT
Tracy Porter returned to the practice field Wednesday, but Thursday brought an even bigger milestone.
The cornerback was a full participant in Thursday's practice session.
"He hasn't played in two weeks, so obviously his health is the biggest concern and that seems to have been taken care of with medication," Fox said. "Now it's just about getting back in to playing football at the highest level there is."
Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio praised the competitiveness and "sticky" man coverage that cornerbacks Chris Harris and Tony Carter have brought to the field in Porter's absence, and said he expects them to continue to respond if Porter can't suit up again this week in Cincinnati.
But he's glad to see Porter at practice for two consecutive days.
"We'll just take it from there -- one day at a time," Del Rio said. "He's a great young man. It's good to have him back out here on the practice field and that's the first thing. We're happy with that. We'll bring him along and he'll be ready to help out when he can, and when we can utilize him, we will."
Porter's running mate in the secondary, cornerback Champ Bailey, said it's a relief to have his teammate back.
"It's great because I know he has a chance to still go out there and be effective for us this year," Bailey said. "That's all I want for him, for him to be able to perform and not have to worry about everything."
The Broncos know the perils of playing on the road in the NFL.
"You're going against their whole stadium -- I think our guys understand that," Fox said. "We had a little bit of a rocky start earlier in the year. We've felt what it's like to win a game on the road now, so hopefully we can feed off of that and understand you're against a lot of things when you go on the road."
This week, the test comes against a 3-4 Cincinnati Bengals team fresh off its bye week. Fox said the team expects that the time off gave Cincinnati a chance to work on the issues that led them to three straight losses.
And record aside, the Bengals present a challenge in the form of a defense that is tied for third in the league in sacks and an offense featuring the likes of 2011 Pro Bowl quarterback Andy Dalton and playmaking wide receiver A.J. Green.
"We've faced a gauntlet of really talented quarterbacks that are proven guys, and we're getting now a guy that's younger but very talented and has a good cast around him," Del Rio said of Dalton. "(We'll) do the best we can to slow them down and get the ball back for our offense. That's the No. 1 key for us is to get the ball back for our offense, for Peyton Manning and our guys to go out there and do their thing."
If the Broncos want to stretch their winning streak to three games, they'll have to match the style of play of a physical Bengals squad.
"No. 1, they play in a very tough division," McCoy said. "Every week, when they play in that division, is a street fight. We've got to go in there with the attitude that it's going to be a smash-mouth football game and then we've got to take care of what we've got to do."