Attitudes change on Broncos squad

Nobody will anoint the Denver Broncos the frontrunner in the AFC West just because they beat Cincinnati and Cleveland, but they are 2-0.

The Broncos also lead the AFC West by themselves as they gear up for their first divisional game of the season against Oakland on Sunday. Denver will go into that game riding a wave of momentum and confidence. Even though the team's first win has to be considered lucky, after Brandon Stokley caught a tipped pass and ran 87 yards for a touchdown, the team is carrying itself like most undefeated teams do.

"I think they feel good about each other out there, they communicate well and sometimes you play better," Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said. "Certainly, if you go out there with no confidence, you are going to have a hard time making plays. I think right now we are w we are gaining confidence, and our team believes in itself and believes in what we are trying to do each week."

The Broncos didn't begin the year feeling that good. They lost their first three preseason games and looked as if they had plenty of things to fix. Safety Brian Dawkins said he noticed some changes in the fourth preseason game. Even though the starters played only one series, the Broncos won 19-0 and came away feeling good going into the regular season.

"It's a feeling, a mentality," Dawkins said. "When the things you practice start to come to fruition, you see those things materialize, it's a feeling you get. I can't explain it."

Denver's defense is playing at a very high level so far. The Broncos have allowed only one touchdown and two field goals in two games. In Week 2, Cleveland's first field goal came off a fumble on the opening kickoff, and then the Broncos did a pretty good job holding the Browns down the rest of the game.

With Oakland coming off a poor -- yet winning -- offensive effort against Kansas City, Denver is confident it has a good chance at picking up its third straight win to start the season.

"We're far from perfect, but we're playing good enough defense right now to give ourselves a chance when we play like that," McDaniels said.

LINEUP WATCH: Correll Buckhalter started against Cleveland, but it's becoming apparent that Knowshon Moreno is quickly emerging as Denver's lead back. Moreno had 17 rushing attempts to Buckhalter's nine. Buckhalter did nothing to lose his starting job, though, rushing for 76 yards including a 45-yard touchdown. Moreno looked good, too, rushing for 75 yards and catching two passes for 22 yards. Denver had other tailbacks get work against the Browns: LaMont Jordan had seven carries and Peyton Hillis had one carry. Hillis' lone carry came as the goal-line back, and he scored from 2 yards.

UNDER THE RADAR: Tight end Richard Quinn won't put up huge numbers but he could become an important part of the offense. In the fourth quarter against Cleveland, Quinn was often on the field as Denver ran three tight-end sets to establish the run game with a lead. Quinn, a rookie second-round pick, is best known for his blocking ability and gives the Broncos' offense more power up front.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

-- G Chris Kuper returned to the starting lineup after missing one game because of an ankle injury. Kuper's return should be a big help to the Broncos run and pass offense.

-- WR Jabar Gaffney had three catches for 82 yards, including a big 49-yard gain in the fourth quarter to set up a touchdown. Gaffney is getting a lot of playing time in Denver's receiver rotation.

-- WR Brandon Marshall started but sat out most of the second quarter. Broncos coach Josh McDaniels offered no reason why Marshall was out in the second quarter, but he was back on the field in the third quarter because Eddie Royal needed intravenous fluids at halftime.

-- TE Tony Scheffler caught a 2-yard touchdown pass, but that was his only catch. There might be weeks when Scheffler has a bigger role, but he hasn't been used much in the first two weeks.

-- LB Andra Davis had a good game against Cleveland, his former team. He led the Broncos with 10 tackles, including two for loss. Davis should have a good amount of tackles playing the inside in Denver's 3-4 scheme.



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