Broncos Update Insider - 9/11

Going into the season, the Denver Broncos knew there might be questions surrounding their quarterbacks. They just didn't expect injury questions.

Quarterbacks Kyle Orton and Chris Simms each enter the regular-season opener at Cincinnati nursing injuries. Orton dislocated his right index finger in the third preseason game, a week after Simms suffered a sprained ankle. Both might play, but both could each be less than 100 percent, which would be a hindrance to a team that already is not favored to beat the Bengals. The team isn't positive Orton will start, but they're prepared either way.

"I don't know what's going to happen," receiver Brandon Stokley said. "But we've got a lot of confidence in both guys."

Orton and Simms are considered fairly interchangeable in the offensive game plan. Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said their strengths are pretty similar so the team wouldn't worry about putting in a backup plan if Orton can't go.

Although the two may be similar, Orton is the starter. Despite a rough start, he played better in the second and third preseason games before suffering the injury -- a dislocation that also necessitated stitches because the bone broke Orton's skin. He felt fortunate that playing in the regular-season opener was an option.

"I think we got lucky it wasn't more than it was," Orton said.

The reason Orton or McDaniels didn't want to declare Orton a starter in the middle of the week was they had to make sure Orton could be fully functional with his bad finger. He wore a glove on his hand in the first few practices to help his grip. He has never played wearing a glove on his throwing hand, and was unsure if he would wear it against Cincinnati.

Orton did look good in his first couple of practices, throwing a good spiral with his normal velocity. The offensive coaches were impressed and said they didn't notice any limitations.

Orton did acknowledge that he would only play if he was the most effective quarterback, and he was working during the week anticipating he would be able to answer the bell on Sunday.

"I'm preparing that I'm going to play, no question about it," Orton said.

Simms, who missed the final two preseason games, said he felt good on his injured ankle and declared himself completely ready if needed in Sunday's game.

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Broncos have had a good opening-day history. They are 31-17-1, and the .646 winning percentage is the second-best in NFL history.

--Another good historical sign for the Broncos: Coaches making their debut for the club are 8-0, not counting interim coaches. Josh McDaniels will be making his NFL debut as a head coach.

--Even though WR Brandon Marshall didn't leave the team on good terms when he was suspended before the third preseason game for conduct detrimental to the team, the players welcomed him back. They understand his importance to the offense.

"It's great," receiver Brandon Stokley said. "He made a mistake and now we're all ready just to move on from that."

"He's got to move past this whole deal and go out and play the football he can," tight end Tony Scheffler said.

--The Broncos have seven captains for the 2009 season: QB Kyle Orton, C Casey Wiegmann, TE Daniel Graham, LB Wesley Woodyard, LB Mario Haggan, CB Champ Bailey and S Brian Dawkins.

Orton and Dawkins were voted as captains by their teammates after only a few months with the team.

"That obviously speaks to how they interact with their teammates, how they lead their teammates on the field, what they do when they're not on the field, how they conduct themselves as far as their preparation," McDaniels said. "They're both in here early and out of here late, and take care of their bodies and do all the right things. That's recognizable when you're around them all day long."

BY THE NUMBERS: 5 -- Consecutive seasons, including this one, in which the Broncos have opened on the road. That's a team record.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Because those receivers are so much of a threat, if you give him time to get them the ball, he'll pick you apart." -- Broncos CB Andre Goodman on Bengals QB Carson Palmer.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Broncos' new 3-4 scheme required a different roster makeup. The team kept nine linebackers and seven defensive linemen -- and Denver might have kept one fewer defensive lineman had Le Kevin Smith not missed the final two preseason games with an injury.

Having so many linebackers should give the Broncos some extra options for its special teams coverage units. Denver's nine defensive backs will also form a big part of the kickoff coverage teams.

PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES

--G Russ Hochstein might start at right guard if Chris Kuper (ankle) can't play. Hochstein has more experience than the other candidate to fill in, rookie Seth Olsen.

--QB Tom Brandstater impressed the team with two good performances in the preseason. He will have the chance to show he can develop into the team's quarterback of the future.

--WR Brandon Lloyd could play a role in the opener because of an injury to Jabar Gaffney. Lloyd was kept on the squad over fellow veteran Chad Jackson, who was cut when Brandon Marshall was reinstated from his suspension.

--TE Richard Quinn was arrested on Monday on harassment and domestic violence charges. The rookie was back at practice Wednesday. The team had no comment, other than to say they'd let the legal system run its course.

--DT Chris Baker could see plenty of playing time in a rotation, to keep Ronald Fields fresh. Denver will need to stay fresh on the line against Cincinnati's big offensive line.





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