Denver CB coming off tough outing

Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams might be a target the rest of the season, starting this week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he's fine with that. Williams had a tough game against ...

... Colts receiver Reggie Wayne last week. Wayne had 10 catches for 138 yards and three touchdowns. Not all of the damage was against Williams -- Denver had some busted coverages because of miscommunications, including on two of Wayne's touchdowns -- but Williams took plenty of heat.

Less than 24 hours later, Williams seemed to be back to normal. He blew off the media after the game, but he was at his locker joking around and explaining what happened the next day.

"There's nothing you can do to take it back," Williams said. "It's time to move on. I'm going to make my presence felt in every other game."

As the cornerback opposite Champ Bailey, Williams expects to get a lot of attention. He was a second-round pick last year and started as a rookie, and handled himself with a lot of confidence from his first days as a Bronco.

He seemed to bounce back quickly from the worst game of his pro career.

"It's nothing, man," Williams said. "I hold whoever I want to hold. I don't back down from nobody."

Williams' day reminded many of Roc Alexander. Alexander was a rookie two seasons ago, and in a wild-card playoff game the Colts manipulated matchups to get Wayne on Alexander most of the game. Wayne had 10 catches for 221 yards in a blowout victory. The Broncos said the two situations were not similar.

"It's night and day from that year," Bailey said. "It is not the same. Darrent played well. He played great. It's just one of those things. You play a guy like Peyton Manning, if he's going to put it on the money, what can you do, really?"

Wayne said after the game that he saw Williams make plenty of plays on film in the week leading up to the game, and the Colts didn't set out to pick on him.

Williams watched the video of the Colts game and was upbeat afterwards. He said even though he made some mistakes and wasn't aggressive enough, he didn't think he played that bad. Denver didn't get much of a pass rush, and Manning had plenty of time to wait for Wayne to get open. And when Wayne had a little bit of separation, Manning didn't misfire.

"He was doing double and triple moves, and I was right there," Williams said. "It's just the great Peyton Manning put the ball right there."

On two of Wayne's touchdowns, Williams and safety John Lynch had a miscommunication that led to Wayne being open in the end zone. Williams figured those mistakes would be corrected and he would move on.

The Broncos have been high on Williams, whose speed and playmaking skills make up for his lack of height. In his second year, he had a very good training camp, holding off Domonique Foxworth for the starting job, and played well to start the season.

After the Indianapolis game, the Broncos weren't worried about Williams.

"All in all, Darrent played a pretty good game," Shanahan said.

SERIES HISTORY: 19th meeting. The Denver Broncos lead the all-time series against the Pittsburgh Steelers 11-6-1. However, the Steelers got a huge postseason win last season. Pittsburgh came to Invesco Field at Mile High for the AFC Championship Game and won 34-17 to advance to the Super Bowl.

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Broncos have been second-guessed for not blitzing more often against Peyton Manning in last Sunday's loss. The Broncos couldn't get pressure with their front four but kept trying, and Manning eventually led the Colts on a game-winning drive in the final minute.

Broncos defensive coordinator Larry Coyer said he didn't think sending extra players at Manning, who is masterful against the blitz, would work.

"There was a time or two, then I thought wiser of it," Coyer said. "Because he was truly masterful. He was reading unbelievably. I couldn't tell what we were doing. But he knew."

--Running back Tatum Bell, who has turf toe injuries on both feet, practiced Wednesday and is listed as probable on the injury report. The injury has been tough on Bell, who took himself out of the game against Indianapolis because he couldn't cut, and he could lose some playing time to Mike Bell, who had a big second half against the Colts.

"I'm getting better," Bell said after Wednesday's practice. "I feel like I had a good day today."

--Many Broncos have admitted to watching the video of last season's AFC Championship Game loss to Pittsburgh many times since last January. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said he has watched it about 30-35 times.

"The reason why I can remember it is because I watched it so many times," Shanahan said. "You look at the things you did poorly and try to rectify those mistakes if you're presented with the same situation. But once it's over, it's over."

Some players said there is a revenge factor in this week's game at Pittsburgh.

"Yeah," Lynch said. "I think that's human nature."

BY THE NUMBERS: 12-7. The Broncos are 12-7 against defending Super Bowl Champions in their history.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Our players own this defense, just like it was when it was going good. We're the same. It didn't change overnight. We're going to come back. I promise you we're coming back." -- Broncos defensive coordinator Larry Coyer after his team gave up 34 points to Indianapolis last week.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

When wide receiver Brian Clark was being wooed by the Green Bay Packers, the Broncos knew they had to keep him. Clark, a rookie who was on the practice squad, impressed coaches with his speed in training camp. The Broncos liked him but didn't have a roster spot, so they stashed him on the practice squad.

To keep Clark from signing with Green Bay, the Broncos offered him a spot on the active roster, and also matched the Packers' promise that he would suit up on Sundays and play. So Clark was put on the active roster a few days after the Packers contacted him, after Matt Lepsis was put on injured reserve, and he was the kickoff returner against Indianapolis last week.

PLAYER NOTES

--RB Mike Bell stayed sharp despite not getting starter's reps during practice. He still got a good amount of reps because the Broncos don't have that many tailbacks, but it reflects well on Bell that he was ready to play against Indianapolis.

--WR Quincy Morgan was the odd man out when the Broncos elevated Brian Clark from the practice squad and made Clark their kickoff returner. Morgan goes back to Pittsburgh this week, where he played last year, but might be inactive again.

--OT Adam Meadows was active but did not play against Indianapolis. The Broncos signed Meadows with the hope that he would regain the form he had when he was a starter with the Colts. But Meadows hasn't been fully healthy and hasn't broken into the lineup.

--DT Kenny Peterson made his Broncos debut last week. The Broncos used him because Gerard Warren was inactive. Peterson can play end and tackle, so he provides depth on the line.

--WR David Kircus caught a long pass against Indianapolis. Kircus has a lot of value as a deep threat who can stretch the defense. Javon Walker is Denver's only other true deep threat at receiver.

GAME PLAN: This game should be an old-school slugfest. Both teams like running the ball and are good against the run. Neither team has thrown the ball very well this season, so don't expect a lot of wide-open football.

The biggest key for the Broncos will be picking up Pittsburgh's pass rush when they do drop back. That was a problem in the AFC Championship Game. The Broncos will probably line up on defense, won't try to trick anyone and attempt to force a turnover or two. Pittsburgh has turned the ball over a lot this season, and whoever wins the turnover battle this week will have a huge edge.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Broncos CB Darrent Williams vs. Pittsburgh receivers Cedrick Wilson, Nate Washington and Santonio Holmes. Champ Bailey will probably spend a lot of time on Hines Ward, and the way Bailey is playing, the Steelers can't expect a huge game from Ward. So they'll turn to the other side, where Williams will attempt to redeem himself after a tough game against Indianapolis.

--Broncos QB Jake Plummer vs. Steelers S Troy Polamalu. The Broncos have to steer the offense away from Polamalu, who was a big difference maker for the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game last season. Denver, and especially Plummer, has to be aware of where Polamalu lines up.

--Broncos LT Erik Pears vs. Steelers OLB Joey Porter. Pears fared pretty well in his first NFL start, subbing for injured Matt Lepsis. Pears has another tough test against Porter, a relentless rusher. Expect the Broncos to give Porter extra attention and roll out away from him plenty of times.

INJURY IMPACT: DT Gerard Warren practiced on Wednesday and is probable on the injury report. He missed last week's game with a sprained big right toe, but he should be able to play this week if there's no setback.

--RB Tatum Bell practiced Wednesday, but his turf toe injuries could linger for a while. If he plays, he will likely share carries with Mike Bell.


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