Saturday 21st October, 2017
13.6
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Broncos back and refreshed from bye

Sports Xchange - Thursday 12th October, 2017

ENGLEWOOD, Colo.-- Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph wanted his team to come back from the bye week with an edge, and he wanted his players to take the battered New York Giants seriously.

He likes what he has seen -- at least when it comes to the preparation.

"We had our best Wednesday (practice) of the year," Joseph said after the Broncos concluded their mid-week session.

"There was a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of speed," said cornerback Aqib Talib. "Put those things together and that will make a good practice."

That stood in stark contrast to the Wednesday leading up to the Broncos' only loss this season, a 26-16 defeat to the Buffalo Bills in Week 3. The team lingered through a sluggish practice, and Joseph felt the after effects of it helped lead to the team's eventual defeat.

Conversely, he saw increased energy and focus a week later before the Broncos' 16-10 win over Oakland.

"I think the difference is that we're off a bye so guys are feeling good," Joseph said. "We've got very few injuries -- knock on wood -- thus far. It's beautiful out, it's nice weather -- that helps.

"I think it's just guys being fresh and being excited about playing a football game again. We're in a good spot right now. We have to continue to do more and push our guys to continue to focus and push forward and get better every day."

The Broncos will not have the luxury of a bye week to refresh themselves mentally and physically the rest of the season. Nevertheless, Joseph does not believe that getting his team back to this level of energy during practice will be a problem.

"No, that won't be a challenge," he said. "That's on the coaches. That's on myself to keep pushing guys."

The practice schedule also plays a role. The Broncos ditched the helmets for their Friday practices this year, opting for a walk-through session. In a typical week, they don helmets for only the Wednesday and Thursday sessions, and have not always used their opportunities to hold one practice a week in full pads at this point in the season.

Rest and recuperation have been crucial to Joseph's plan to keep his players from mental and physical fatigue, and it will remain that way.

"I think working Wednesday, working Thursday and having recovery Friday, that's part of it," Joseph said. "We're doing that schedule to keep guys healthy and fresh all year."

SERIES HISTORY: 12th regular-season meeting. Broncos lead series against Giants, 6-5. Broncos have won three of the last four. Most historic meeting between these two teams was on Jan. 25, 1987, when the Giants defeated Denver 39-20 in Super Bowl XXI.

--Four games into the season, it looks like the Broncos have no regrets about releasing T.J. Ward at the cutdown to 53 players.

The eight-year veteran safety has yet to make his first start for the Bucs and has missed two games altogether because of a hip injury. Meanwhile, his replacement, Justin Simmons, had a game-saving interception against the Raiders. Second-year safety Will Parks, who saw his playing time increase as a result of Ward's departure, also had a fourth-down stop against the Raiders to give the Broncos a turnover on downs.

"When you look at those decisions, you've got to look at health, age, and what's coming behind them, what players are coming up behind him, and how everything fits together," Broncos general manager John Elway told KDSP-AM 760 on Tuesday. "So those are the toughest decisions, because obviously fans fall in love with him, because he played great for us, so any time you let go of a veteran like that, there's going to be a lot of questions about it, but there's a lot of different things that go into a decision when we release any player."

The decision was "tough," Elway reiterated, but the presence of Simmons and Parks made it a possibility.

"That's what's tough about this league, is No. 1, we have a salary cap, and No. 2, we have young players that continue to come up," Elway said.

--Cornerback Aqib Talib has never been shy about embracing a challenge, which is why he was looking forward to the opportunity to face Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants' dynamic fourth-year receiver.

That opportunity evaporated when Beckham suffered a fractured ankle last Sunday against the Giants.

"Definitely, man. That would have been my first time guarding OBJ, and I like to guard the best," Talib said. "Seeing him go down to an injury like that, it's just prayers up for him. It's ugly."

Former NFL receivers Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens both took to Twitter to let the Giants know that they were available to help if needed, given the extent of the team's wide-receiver crisis. Their interest came despite the fact that Johnson hasn't played an NFL regular-season snap since 2011 and Owens since 2010.

The Giants didn't sign either of them, of course. And if they had, Talib would have been ready.

"I wish Ochocinco and T.O. would have come out there, man," Talib said. "They'd get the clamps put on them."

NOTES: WR Cody Latimer is expected to miss another one to two weeks after having a blood-injection procedure on his right knee. Latimer did not play against the Raiders on Oct. 1 and has been battling knee soreness in recent weeks. ... QB Paxton Lynch is expected to have a brief throwing session Thursday or Friday. He has not practiced since suffering a sprained right shoulder in the third preseason game against Green Bay on Aug. 26. ... RB Jamaal Charles needs just 87 yards from scrimmage to reach the 10,000-yard mark for his career. He would become the 11th active player to surpass 10,000 yards from scrimmage. ... OLB Von Miller is 1.5 sacks away from tying Karl Mecklenburg for second place all-time on the Broncos' all-time sack list with 79. ... RG Ron Leary has adjusted well to his new position after working at left guard with the Cowboys. According to Pro Football Focus, Leary has not allowed a sack, hit or quarterback hurry in four games this season.

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