First Look at ... Denver Broncos

Stop us if you've heard this before: An opposing offense wants to establish a running game against the Packers. Green Bay's run defense is atop the league ledger after a dominant performance against Chicago.

The Denver Broncos are going to want to play keepaway Sunday from the high-powered Green Bay Packers offense at Lambeau Field.

One way to accomplish that time-management strategy is with a strong running game.

But for the second time in three weeks, Denver (1-2) has shown an inability to move the line of scrimmage against a top-notch, physical front. The Packers certainly qualify as a top-notch run defense. They lead the league with 55.0 rushing yards allowed per game, including just 13 yards for Chicago on Sunday.

Tennessee stoned the Broncos' running attack, holding Denver to 59 yards on 23 rushes in posting a 17-14 victory.

Denver made sure to stick with the ground game so not to be overly reliant on quarterback Kyle Orton. But while Willis McGahee continues to demonstrate his toughness as an inside runner (22 carries, 52 yards), the Broncos haven't executed up front enough to open holes for significant gains — an ongoing issue dating back to last season.

Four of McGahee's totes went for a loss. Three more went for no gain and five others for 1 yard. Of 19 first downs gained on offense, just two were via the rush. And just four McGahee carries went for 5 yards or more.

Coach John Fox has preached a physical run game since his hire in January. And Denver had a modicum of success in its only win against Cincinnati, when McGahee went for 101 yards but averaged just 3.6 yards per attempt.

Denver's failure to produce in short yardage reared its head on a fourth-and-goal gamble against Tennessee from the 1-yard line that was busted by Titans end Derrick Morgan.

It turned out to be the game-changing play after Tennessee scored a late touchdown.

"I think at the end of the day on the road, fourth down, not even a full yard, I'd do it again next week," Fox said. "We've got to be able to execute that and get that in."

Denver should get Knowshon Moreno back for Green Bay. Moreno dressed for Tennessee but that was on an emergency basis only and he didn't play after suffering a Week 2 hamstring injury. Moreno has more speed than McGahee and can potentially bounce plays outside for yardage.

LINEUP WATCH: D.J. Williams, the team's leading tackler in three of the last four years, returned to the active roster for the Titans but was held out after practicing just one week following a dislocation of his right elbow in Week 3 of the preseason. Wesley Woodyard continued to start in Williams' place and once again led Denver with nine tackles. Williams could be in line to start against Green Bay with the additional practice time. But Woodyard's solid play may mean more of a rotation rather than Williams resuming his every-down role.

NUMBERS GAME: The Broncos have played three consecutive games that were decided by a field goal or less. It marks the first time in club history that a team has opened the season in that fashion and just the fourth time overall it's happened, matching streaks in 2004, 1997 and 1984.

Player notes

— WR Quan Cosby handled punt and kickoff return duties in his first game with Denver. His 40-yard return on his first punt set up the Broncos' initial scoring drive. Cosby's return skills are needed with Eddie Royal out and Eric Decker and Cassius Vaughn moved to starting roles due to injuries.

— WR Matt Willis scored his first career touchdown on a 5-yard pass from Kyle Orton in the first quarter. Willis is playing in three-wide packages with Eddie Royal out with a groin injury. Royal will likely be out again against the Packers.

— DE Elvis Dumervil didn't make the trip with a strained shoulder after practicing all week in limited fashion. Given Dumervil's participation in those workouts, it would be a surprise if he missed the Green Bay game, too. Dumervil's been out since the opening week. — LB Von Miller, the second overall draft pick, had a strip-sack of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck late in the third quarter. It was the second sack and forced fumble this season for the NFL's No. 2 overall draft pick last April.

— CB Jonathan Wilhite, pressed into action as the nickel corner with Champ Bailey out with a hamstring injury, for the second straight week did a nice job coming off the edge on the blitz. Wilhite had a sack, tackle for loss and two quarterback hits to go with six tackles.

— CB Chris Harris had two special teams tackles for the second consecutive week.

— TE Julius Thomas missed the Tennessee game with a high ankle sprain. He's hoping to get out of his walking boot Monday.


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