'Pack your defense': Broncos prep for first road game of the season

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As the Broncos take the first step Sunday toward improving on last year’s 1-7 road record, Chris Harris Jr. knows the onus may very well fall on his unit.

“When you play on the road, you have to pack your defense,” Harris said Wednesday. “We’ve got to be ready to go and be ready to out-play their defense. That’s how it is on the road. Defense, you’ve got to ball on the road. You always plan on the offense to struggle a little bit on the road, so we have to try and give them a little help — hopefully get an early turnover and get Case going early."

Harris could be the player to record one of those turnovers. The eighth-year corner has picked off Joe Flacco twice in four career meetings, including a 98-yard pick-six in a 2012 game against the Ravens.

“I like Flacco,” Harris said. “He’s thrown me a couple picks, so I like going against him.”

Harris said he expects Flacco to hold the ball and look for the “home-run ball” to players like Willie Snead, Michael Crabtree and John Brown. Unlike last week, when the Broncos faced quick pass after quick pass from Derek Carr, the unit should have a chance to make plays.

“He wants to take you up top,” said Harris of Flacco. “He wants the deep, 70-yard bomb. It’s a totally different mindset. I’ve had plenty of experience playing against Flacco, so I’ll try to share any information I can [with] the young guys.”

Denver’s defense will also need to be wary of first-round pick Lamar Jackson, who has shared the field with Flacco at times. In some situations, Jackson has lined up out wide before cutting into the backfield, which gives him the option to either run or throw the football. But he’s also taken snaps at quarterback with Flacco split out wide.

The Ravens haven’t shown these formations often — just a handful of times per game — but it’s enough to make Head Coach Vance Joseph and the Broncos pay attention. 

“He’s a good athlete, so you can’t treat him like a wildcat player because he can throw the football,” Joseph said. “Obviously, we’re going to have a plan for him. I won’t share that, but we have a plan for him.

“… We can’t be surprised by that and give up a cheap play. That’s why they’re going to do it, obviously, to catch you slipping and to make a big play on you. We can’t allow it.”

Whether it’s Flacco or Jackson or both on the field, the Broncos won’t make excuses.

And Joseph wants that mentality spread to the rest of Denver’s preparation. He stressed Wednesday that no matter the situation — if the weather is bad, if they’re shorthanded, if the Ravens run a trick play — the Broncos simply “don’t care.”

“We just want to go out and play the game,” Joseph said. “Again, it’s all about mindset. We’re not going to worry about how far we’re traveling, what time the game starts — we don’t care. It’s going to probably rain on Sunday. We don’t care. I think pushing it back and just going on Saturday is all about our mindset and not worrying about going east, who we’re playing or where we’re playing. It’s worrying about the Broncos playing the best we can play.

“Our attitude this year is, ‘We don’t care about where we go or who we play or when we travel or where we travel.’ We’re just going to go play.”

If the Broncos do that, they may very well pick up a win while they’re out.

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