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Bronco Rob
11-17-2010, 08:40 PM
USA Today: Denver Broncos Team Report

Broncos defensive end Kevin Vickerson thinks he knows what to expect when the top two passing teams in the NFL square off on Monday night in San Diego.
"Bombs away," he said. "It might be 800 yards, you never know. We have to get them off the field and defend the deep ball, because we know their tendencies. But they may change that, too."

Probably not.

In passing for 2,944 yards this season, San Diego has failed to reach a net of 300 yards or more only three times, the Chargers average a league-high 312.4. The Broncos' 2,668 passing yards include four games with a 300-plus net and another at 472.

The teams also are ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the AFC in passes covering at least 20 yards and 40-plus yards, with 110 such plays combined.

Quarterback Kyle Orton joked this might be the first time in his career one of his matchups might be billed as a battle of gunslingers. There's no question he envisions Philip Rivers in that vein.

"I like the way he plays," Orton said. "He's tough. He stays in the pocket with a lot of guys around him, and he and Norv (Turner, Chargers coach), it's just shot after shot after shot. Norv's a great play-caller who has a lot of imagination. Throughout the week, I always watch San Diego's offense."

Rivers has a 6-3 career record against the Broncos with some gaudy peripheral numbers. He's completed 67.1 percent of his 222 attempts for 2,078 yards — 9.36 per attempt — with 14 touchdowns against just five interceptions. He's been helped by a receiving corps that's contributed 943 yards after the catch.

"He is the best deep-ball thrower that we are going to play or that I have studied," Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said of Rivers. "He has an uncanny ability to ignore everything that is going on right around him in the pocket, and he maintains all of his focus down the field. So every time you make a mistake, it doesn't matter how close you are to him in the pass rush, if you make one small mistake in the secondary in coverage, he always sees it, and once he sees it, he has a quick release and is extremely accurate."

Vincent Jackson's holdout, Antonio Gates' foot issues, Malcom Floyd's hamstring and other ailments have had Rivers throwing to a relatively unknown cast, and he's still produced a 102.9 passer rating that's No. 3 in the NFL.

"Obviously Philip Rivers is the engine, man, and if we can just stop this guy at any point in the game, I think we give ourselves a chance," Denver linebacker Mario Haggan said.

San Diego likely feels similarly about Orton. He may be coming off his best overall game with the Broncos, producing just the 10th game in club history with at least four touchdowns and zero interceptions. Orton has a trio of receivers with at least 40 catches despite frequent attempts at double-teams, particularly on top target Brandon Lloyd.

"The schemes in general are not the same," McDaniels said of his offense compared to San Diego's. "We've just found a way to be productive in different ways."

SERIES HISTORY: 101st regular-season meeting. Broncos lead series, 54-45-1. The Broncos and Chargers split the 2009 series, with each winning on the road. Denver WR Eddie Royal became only the 11th player in NFL history with TDs via punt return and kickoff return in Denver's 34-23 victory at Qualcomm Stadium last Oct. 19.


Brandon Lloyd is older, wiser and, most surprisingly, more productive than he's ever been during his eighth NFL season.

With 32 yards Monday night against the Chargers, he'll become just the 16th player in NFL history to reach 1,000 at this late a date in a career.

The last five players to wait then dominate are: Seattle's Bobby Engram (12th season, 2007); Kansas City's Eddie Kennison (ninth season, 2004): New England's Troy Brown (ninth season, 2001); Denver's Ed McCaffrey (eighth season, 1998) and Detroit's Brett Perriman (eighth season, 1995).

"I work hard. I always have," Lloyd said. "I'm dedicated, devoted. This is just something that happened. I think I've been prepared for it my entire career, and I didn't do anything different or extra to make it happen this year. It was just right place, right time, right opportunity. I'm just seizing the moment."

Denver released linebacker Jarvis Moss, the team's 2007 first-round draft pick.

Moss' career numbers suggest the bust label the ex-University of Florida star always tried to avert. He started just once in 34 appearances, and he had 42 total tackles (25 solo) and 3.5 sacks.

His exit leaves two players from that '07 class, as those draftees taken during the Mike Shanahan era continue to dwindle, now just seven players in all: D.J. Williams (2005), Elvis Dumervil and Chris Kuper (2006), Ryan Harris and Marcus Thomas (2007), and Ryan Clady and Eddie Royal (2008).

"I know he wasn't drafted to play in this system necessarily," coach Josh McDaniels said, saying there were "a number of different reasons for Moss' release. ... It just hasn't been a perfect fit, and we wish him the best and hopefully he can find a place that better suits what he does and what he does well."

Moss started his Denver career as a 4-3 end but didn't have the bulk to fend off opposing tackles with regularity. In the pass rush, he didn't have elite speed to the outside and lacked an array of counter moves.

Some of the same issues cropped up once he moved to a 3-4 outside linebacker. He had difficulty holding the edge, so the team was reticent to play him on run downs. And he didn't have the necessary burst to reach the quarterback.

"You're losing a family member. But we all know that when we sign on the dotted line, it's a business. The job is kind of dangerous when we took it. That's how we've got to look at it," linebacker Mario Haggan said. "I'll continue to be friends with Moss and talk to him. You never know; he may end up back with us."

BY THE NUMBERS: 19 — Consecutive years that Denver has appeared at least once on "Monday Night Football," which is the longest active streak in the NFL and tied for second in NFL history. Oakland had 28 straight years with at least one MNF game from 1970-97.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't know what's kept them from winning. What I do know is they have players that can get things going in a hurry. You can't worry what they've done, but what they can do." — Broncos safety Renaldo Hill, on the Chargers (4-5) seemingly coming on again after another slow start.


The Broncos' linebacking unit received a huge boost Wednesday with the return of OLB Robert Ayers to practice off a foot injury. Ayers and Jason Hunter, with D.J. Williams and Mario Haggan inside, gives Denver the stoutest group against the run that it can muster with its current roster. Ayers may not be ready for full-time duties given he's sat for more than a month. So the Broncos may have to get creative with their sub packages, shifting Haggan to outside linebacker some — he had three sacks last week, a career high — and also giving Joe Mays some playing time on a rotational basis. Ayers has the versatility to be a standup outside linebacker or play with his hand on the ground, providing defensive coordinator Don Martindale more flexibility in his pass-rush schemes.


—LB David Veikune was signed after Moss' release. Veikune last played for Cleveland and had tryouts with Houston, Tennessee, Miami and Philadelphia. Veikune could fit in initially on special teams and has experience as both a 4-3 defensive end and 3-4 inside linebacker.

—PK Matt Prater badly missed a 58-yard field goal Sunday, and only two of his eight kickoffs were touchbacks vs. Kansas City. Prater, though, chalked it up to a poor day and not a recurrence of a late-season "dead leg" he's experienced in the past. Prater's foot nicked the ground on his long field-goal attempt. His high kickoffs actually resulted in two returns tackled inside the 20 and another at the 21.

—QB Kyle Orton, the reigning AFC Offensive Player of the Week, completed 20 of 29 passes for 229 yards and two TDs against San Diego on "Monday Night Football" last season.

—QB Tim Tebow last Sunday became the first Denver rookie quarterback to rush and pass for a TD in the same game since Gary Kubiak on Nov. 20, 1983.

—TE Daniel Graham needs one TD to join Tony Gonzalez and Todd Heap as the only players at the position to have at least one scoring reception from 2002-10.

GAME PLAN: The entire key to the Broncos' huge effort last week, setting up their 49-29 win over Kansas City, was their ability to score early and keep the Chiefs guessing behind a suddenly effective running attack. Denver had only seven points all season in the first quarter but exploded for 21 last Sunday. The team now has a line configuration it will attempt to use for the remainder of the season — RT Ryan Harris, RG Chris Kuper, C J.D. Walton, LG Zane Beadles and LT Ryan Clady — and the hope is with continued balance they can turn what were considerable early-season yards into more points.

The return of Robert Ayers from a foot injury this week can't be understated. It allows Mario Haggan to slide back to middle linebacker and sets up by far the team's best run-stopping configuration. Ayers also gives Denver another legitimate option rushing Philip Rivers off the edge.

Denver will look to crank up its return game, with San Diego already allowing punt and kickoff TDs. Eddie Royal had two such scores in the last meeting at Qualcomm Stadium in 2009.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Chargers TE Antonio Gates, who has 11 TDs in his last 12 games, vs. a Denver defense that's tried a group approach against opposing tight ends this season. The Broncos have used safeties Brian Dawkins and Renaldo Hill and LBs D.J. Williams and Mario Haggan on various tight ends this season. Any or all of those players could at some point see Gates on Monday night. During Mike Shanahan's reign, he put CB Champ Bailey on Gates, matching what he thought were the two best athletes. And that's not an uncommon approach now, with teams playing nickel even against San Diego's base offense to get a corner on Gates. Of course, that presents a huge size disadvantage for the DB. And the Chargers move Gates around the formation so that he doesn't take many clean shots coming off the line of scrimmage while effectively passing off play-action. Best bet for Denver is that Gates' plantar fasciitis acts up.

Chargers safeties Eric Weddle and Steve Gregory vs. a Denver offense that is tied for the NFL lead in 40-yard catches (10). The Broncos are an even more dangerous team now pushing the ball downfield if their once-dormant running game that produced a season-best 153 yards last week can continue to thrive. It makes the play-action game that much more effective, allowing Brandon Lloyd and Jabar Gaffney to get behind defenses. The Broncos have at least one 40-yard catch in every game this season. Last week, safety help was late on at least two of Kyle Orton's four TD throws. Gregory and Weddle will be busy.

INJURY IMPACT: CB Andre Goodman (thigh) was the only Broncos player missing practice Wednesday, with Ayers returning to the field. Goodman has missed five of the last seven games with various issues with his quadriceps, and he made a hasty exit in the Oct. 10 game vs. Baltimore. Perrish Cox will continue to start at right cornerback in Goodman's place until he's completely healthy, but the fact Goodman hasn't practiced since the Oct. 31 San Francisco loss points to yet another DNP this week.


11-18-2010, 07:15 AM
Great work up.

11-18-2010, 07:29 AM
jesus christ the font

11-18-2010, 08:00 AM
QB Tim Tebow last Sunday became the first Denver rookie quarterback to rush and pass for a TD in the same game since Gary Kubiak on Nov. 20, 1983.

So he's gonna be good at holding a clipboard you say.

11-18-2010, 08:02 AM
So he's gonna be good at holding a clipboard you say.

Isn't he already?

11-18-2010, 10:08 AM
Isn't he already?

If all Tebow ever amounts to is a backup-QB as reliable as Kubiak was... it was worth everything we spent.