Broncos Update Insider 9/27/07

The Denver Broncos face a huge test this Sunday when they travel back to the RCA Dome to face Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. Get all the latest inside information in today's edition of Broncos Update Insider

The Indianapolis Colts haven't been too kind to the Denver Broncos secondary through the years, but they've rarely been full strength.

The addition of Dre Bly this offseason to go along with Champ Bailey, and a strong start for the Denver pass defense this year has the Broncos hoping they won't repeat some of the nightmares they have had against the Colts and quarterback Peyton Manning.

"They have great talent, but we believe in ourselves as well," Bailey said. "I believe we can get it done."

Not counting a game at the end of the 2004 season, when Indianapolis rested its starters, Manning has dominated against Denver in the last three meetings. He has averaged almost 400 yards per game. Two of the games were embarrassing playoff losses at the RCA Dome, each game done by halftime.

The Broncos have either had injuries or young cornerbacks playing a key role, which won't be the case this time. Denver feels better about its chances with an improved, veteran secondary.

"You can't dwell on the past too much," Bailey said. "It was frustrating back then, but it's a whole new season."

Bly and Bailey have been tough to beat. Only once in three games has a receiver gotten more than a 21-yard gain against Denver, and that was a 46-yard touchdown by Oakland's Jerry Porter, who beat Bly in Week 2. Oakland had 73 total passing yards that game.

Having Bailey and Bly together means there shouldn't be an easy day for Reggie Wayne or Marvin Harrison.

"I'll tell you what, it gives us a hell of a chance," Broncos safety Nick Ferguson said of having Bly and Bailey. "Before we had guys injured and maybe the scheme was not right, call it whatever you want to.

"Does it change things? We don't know. We'll have to get to game time to see."

Throw in Domonique Foxworth, who was penciled in to be a starter until the Broncos acquired former Pro Bowler Bly in a trade, and the Broncos are confident with their chances of matching up against Indianapolis' receivers.

"They're the best pass offense in the league," Foxworth said. "We feel like we're the best pass defense, so I look forward to the matchup."

As was the case in both playoff losses at the RCA Dome, the Broncos might not be going in with a healthy secondary. Safety John Lynch has a strained groin and the Broncos will wait until later this week to determine if he can play. Foxworth has missed two games with a sprained ankle, but appears back at full strength.

The Broncos are still in better shape in the secondary than some of their previous trips to the RCA Dome, and they are anticipating the challenge.

"I really want these guys to come in and throw the football," Bly said. "That's something I look forward to. That will give us an opportunity to make plays."

SERIES HISTORY: 17th meeting. The Broncos lead the series 11-5, but the Colts have dominated lately. Indianapolis has won five of the last seven meetings counting two blowout playoff wins at the RCA Dome.

NOTES, QUOTES
--Broncos receiver Brandon Stokley spent four years with the Colts, is still good friends with many players, and might be able to offer a bit of insight into Indianapolis' offense this week.

"I think everybody tries to use as much knowledge as they can," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "That's a part of the game, especially if you have a guy that has been a part of their system."

--Indianapolis has won five of seven from the Broncos, who have often been helpless to stop the Colts offense. One of those Broncos wins was against Indianapolis' backups, when the starters were pulled early in the regular season finale. Still, Stokley said the Colts never thought of the Broncos as an easy win.

"Whenever we played the Broncos we knew it was going to be a tough, physical game," Stokley said. "It was nothing like we thought we were going to come in here and have an easy game."

--The Broncos had trouble with their headsets on Sunday, which caused them to burn their final two second-half timeouts in the third quarter. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan and quarterback Jay Cutler said the communications device in Cutler's helmet wasn't working well and they had trouble getting the play in.

Cutler said he has had problems with the helmet headset, sometimes even hearing frequencies from the stadium's concessions crews in it.

"They're not the finest contraptions they have out," Cutler said.

--The Broncos are positive Cutler will play against Indianapolis, barring a setback to his sprained ankle, but Cutler said on Wednesday his ankle is sore and he might be limited some during the game.

"If we had to play today, yeah," Cutler said. "Luckily we don't. There's still a time left, a lot of rehab. I'm confident I'll be ready."

BY THE NUMBERS: 393.3 -- Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning's average of passing yards in his last three games against Denver, not counting a one-series appearance in the 2004 regular-season finale.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Obviously we are concerned about it, so we're working on it. That's really all you can do." -- Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, on his team's run defense.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Broncos are thin at safety. John Lynch has a strained groin, and could miss this week's game against Indianapolis. Hamza Abdullah has a hip flexor injury and will probably miss a few more games. Curome Cox filled in for Lynch last week, and Domonique Foxworth could move from cornerback to safety to fill in for Lynch. Steve Cargile could be promoted from the practice squad for depth.

Cargile is a versatile player who also played some outside linebacker in the offseason camps. He was used often in nickel and dime packages in preseason because he is big enough to be a factor against the run.

PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES
--WR Domenik Hixon missed all of last year as a rookie, and was given Denver's return duties this year. He hasn't broken any long punt returns and has been average on kickoff returns. The Broncos also have Brian Clark, who spent some time as their kickoff returner last year.

--P Todd Sauerbrun is averaging 50.4 yards per punt in three games. He has also been pretty good kicking off, which helps the Broncos, who had trouble covering kicks last year.

--TE Daniel Graham got three catches in Denver's opener, and one since. The Broncos trust him, even though he dropped a big fourth-down pass last week, but third receiver Brandon Stokley is getting most of the leftover passes that don't go to Javon Walker or Brandon Marshall.

--DT Amon Gordon has played well on the line for the Broncos. Sam Adams is still very good clogging up the middle, and Gordon gives the Broncos a mobile tackle to play alongside him.

--DE John Engelberger has played a solid few weeks for the Broncos, which is what they expected when they made him a starter. But with Elvis Dumervil playing very well, Simeon Rice getting more comfortable and Jarvis Moss improving, Engelberger isn't guaranteed to hold a starting spot all year.



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