Broncos Update Insider - 10/1

Josh McDaniels wanted a physical team. He brought in big players. Anyone who was signed or drafted had to have signs of being a good tackler. In training camp, pads were on almost every day

. So far, the plan is working. The Broncos are 3-0 and are displaying a tough attitude -- mentally and physically. Denver will be tested by a huge Cowboys team this Sunday, but McDaniels is enjoying what he sees so far.

"We've said from day one we wanted to be that type of team, and our players bought into that," McDaniels said. "They've got to buy into it every week, though. You can't take a week off. If you're a physical team, that's what you have to hang your hat on."

The dominating performance against the Raiders showed what the Broncos are capable of. They pushed Oakland around in a 23-3 win. The line didn't allow a sack and paved the way for 215 yards rushing. Denver controlled the line of scrimmage no matter which team had the ball.

"We felt like they were a physical team," running back Correll Buckhalter said. "We felt like we were a little more physical than them."

McDaniels' confidence in the toughness of his team was on display with the game plan. As Buckhalter said, the Broncos knew Oakland had a physical team. That didn't matter to McDaniels, who built his plan around lining up and going right at Oakland in the running game..

"We've got tough guys on our team, too," McDaniels said.

The Broncos' defense has allowed only 16 points, and hasn't allowed much up the middle in the running game. The linemen are being physical at the line of scrimmage and the linebackers aren't missing tackles. Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said the team missed only three tackles against Oakland..

This week will presen a different challenge. The Cowboys have a massive offensive line and might be the best power-running team in the NFL. They are first in the NFL in rushing yards, even with starter Marion Barber missing a game..

The Broncos haven't faced a team quite like Dallas. Their physical attitude will be a benefit in the matchup, but the game will go a long way in determining whether the Broncos' 3-0 start is for real.

"They look like a good football team," quarterback Kyle Orton said. "Probably the most talented team we've played."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Kyle Orton hasn't ditched the glove on his right hand, although he wants to. Orton has played all three games with the glove after dislocating his right index finger in Denver's third preseason game. Although he doesn't like the glove that much, he said it hasn't been a big factor.

"I've thrown a couple low balls I wish I wouldn't have had," Orton said. "But on a majority of the throws it hasn't been an issue."

Orton said the healing process for his finger might have gone slower than normal because he has kept playing, but it is improving..

"This is as good as it has been so far," Orton said.

--Brandon Marshall had his best game this season against Oakland, which is a good sign for him going forward. Marshall didn't play in the preseason, but seems to be getting more comfortable with the offense. He also looks more confident, although he said his confidence never changed.

"I've always been the same," Marshall said. "I've never gone anywhere. Just excited about going 3-0 and preparing for Dallas this week.".

--Broncos kicker Matt Prater was named AFC special teams player of the month. He got off to a rough start in training camp but had a great preseason. He carried that over into the season. He is 7 of 9 on field-goal attempts and has regularly reached the end zone with his kickoffs..

Prater is taking a different approach this season, kicking less during practice to keep his leg fresh. Prater started well last season and faded in the second half

BY THE NUMBERS: 11 - Number of times in Broncos history the team has started 3-0. Josh McDaniels and Red Miller are the two coaches in team history to start their Broncos careers 3-0.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "They've got great players all over the field." -- Broncos coach Josh McDaniels on the Cowboys.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Broncos might have to reevaluate their goal-line rushing game after Peyton Hillis was stuffed twice at the 1-yard line against Oakland and LaMont Jordan was stuffed once. Hillis said he wants to keep the job, but he is also dealing with a head injury which could force the staff's hand.

Knowshon Moreno scored on a short run against Oakland and could get a crack at the job if Hillis can't play or the team wants to try something else. Correll Buckhalter also did well during goal-line drills in training camp.

PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES --G Russ Hochstein has become a mainstay in the goal-line offense as a lead blocker. However, he could have to play left guard if Ben Hamilton sits out with a hamstring injury. The Broncos could be short at fullback, because Spencer Larsen is unlikely to play with a shoulder injury and Peyton Hillis has a head injury.

--RB LaMont Jordan has been active on game days and has 15 carries, but hasn't done much with them. He has 36 yards and a long rush of only 5 yards. The Broncos have two capable backs in Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter so Jordan isn't guaranteed to keep seeing carries.

--RB Peyton Hillis' injury also could hurt the Broncos' special teams, which are already without standout Spencer Larsen. Hillis leads the Broncos in special-teams tackles this season.

--LB Robert Ayers picked up his first NFL tackle against Oakland. Ayers has been used extensively in passing situations, but has been slow to produce big plays as he learns the defense.

--DL Marcus Thomas has been Ronald Fields' backup at nose tackle, and can also play end. His versatility is one reason he has been active instead of rookie Chris Baker, who was impressive in preseason but plays only nose tackle.



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