Broncos Update Insider - 9/14

Going into this week's game against Oakland, Mike Shanahan's biggest job might be to make sure the Denver Broncos aren't too excited. There was reason to be happy after the first game.

Denver pulled out a win against Buffalo, rushing out to hit a game-winning field goal as time expired. That set off a celebration that even surprised Shanahan a bit.

"I think it's the most excited I've ever seen a pro team, where everybody hits the field and it's kind of like a college atmosphere," Shanahan said.

The Broncos didn't lead until Jason Elam's kick went through after the final second was off the clock. That wasn't the best sign for Shanahan, who found some faults with the Broncos performance.

Denver's offense gained 470 yards but didn't finish many drives. The Broncos scored only one touchdown, which was far less than Shanahan expects with that many yards.

"Usually with about 470 yards you should have 40 points," Shanahan said. "So we have some work to do."

The special teams also struggled for most of the game. They got on the field in the final 10 seconds and Elam won the game, but they were trailing most of the game in part because of their special teams. Roscoe Parrish beat them for a 74-yard punt return and Terrence McGee had a long kickoff return. The normally reliable Elam missed two field goals.

"Special teams, we didn't play very well with the exception of the field goal," Shanahan said.

The brightest spot for the team was the defense, which was criticized in preseason. But the Broncos didn't show much of their scheme in the meaningless games, but had a good plan for Buffalo, confusing quarterback J.P. Losman by lining up many players at the line of scrimmage. Denver allowed 184 yards, a great sign going forward.

"People get caught up in preseason," cornerback Champ Bailey said. "Now we're going to create our identity. We're a tough defense, and we're going to be like that every week."

With the Raiders coming up this week, the Broncos have to guard against being content after starting the season with a win. Oakland had the worst record in the NFL last year and lost both games to the Broncos. But Shanahan thinks the Raiders offense, which was horrible in 2006, has improved and the defense is strong. So while it seems unlikely that Oakland would come to Denver and pull off the upset, Shanahan wants to make sure his team is ready.

That's a reason he was dismissive about the excitement immediately following the win against Buffalo.

"It's a 16-round fight," Shanahan said. "We won the first round, and we have a lot of rounds to go."

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Broncos will play against defensive tackle Gerard Warren, who was traded to Oakland during the preseason. Warren didn't have a tackle in the season opener.

--The Broncos were happy to hear about the positive prognosis for Bills tight end Kevin Everett, who suffered a neck injury against Denver on Sunday. Everett moved his legs and arms Tuesday and should be able to walk again.

"You look at that as a miracle," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "The doctors didn't think there was much of a chance."

--Broncos assistant head coach/defense Jim Bates said he wanted the NFL to allow a defensive player to wear a communication device in his helmet, which would avoid another sign-stealing controversy like the one New England is involved in.

"I've always been a proponent, because it helps us and you don't get into a situation where people can steal your signals," Bates said.

--On the advice of the captains Denver selected last week, the Broncos added receiver Rod Smith as a fifth permanent captain. Smith will miss the first six weeks of the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list.

"They know if he would have been healthy, he definitely would have been one of the captains," Shanahan said.

BY THE NUMBERS: 11-1 -- Mike Shanahan's record in home openers as the Denver Broncos coach. QUOTE TO NOTE: "I look at them as a team who was third in the National Football League on defense with an offense that was very poor. Their offense is much better and their defense has the same personnel back." -- Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, on the Raiders.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Broncos will start to use defensive end Simeon Rice more as the season progresses and he could start this week. He played 17 snaps in his first game, and had a couple of nice plays. He batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage and made a tackle on an end around. Rice is listed as a starter on this week's depth chart.

PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES

--OT Matt Lepsis appears fully recovered from a knee injury he suffered last year. He played well in the preseason and in the season opener against Buffalo. His return to full speed was important for the Broncos offense.

--TE Daniel Graham played almost the entire game against Buffalo. He will rarely come off the field. He is a tremendous blocker and can be a reliable pass catcher. Graham also lined up some plays in the backfield on passing downs to create confusion.

--TE Tony Scheffler did not play in the season opener. He is still recovering from a foot injury and may lose playing time to Nate Jackson, who had a very good training camp.

--FB Cecil Sapp played well in his return to fullback. He was moved from tailback late in preseason. Sapp is a tough player who has great instincts and he gives the Broncos more athleticism than they had with former starter Kyle Johnson, who was released.

--DT Amon Gordon isn't well known, but he is starting for the Broncos. The Broncos liked him when they claimed him off waivers from Cleveland, but he had to recover from a knee injury. Now that he's healthy, he's a strong player who also has lateral quickness.





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