KU­BIAK LEANS ON SHANA­HAN FOR PREP WORK

The Denver Post - - OFF & RUNNING -

When Gary Ku­biak won the AFC cham­pi­onship game, one is­sue re­mained un­re­solved for Bron­cos crit­ics. Ku­biak has never won a Su­per Bowl. He has, how­ever, worked for a coach who has won three Su­per Bowl ti­tle rings. Mike Shana­han’s 49ers of­fense dom­i­nated the San Diego Charg­ers, and, as boss of the Bron­cos, he won the team’s two NFL cham­pi­onships.

Shana­han didn’t earn the nick­name “Mas­ter­mind” for his ap­pear­ances on “Jeop­ardy.” His foot­ball blue­print left an im­print with Ku­biak, who has leaned on his ex­pe­ri­ence with Shana­han in shap­ing his prac­tices this week as he in­stalled the game plan as if the Bron­cos were play­ing Sun­day in Su­per Bowl 50.

“Ab­so­lutely. I saw Mike last week, spent some time with him. I watched him pre­pare for th­ese games,” Ku­biak said. “Yeah, I take a lot with me on what Mike taught me and how he pre­pared this team for th­ese types of sit­u­a­tions.”

Shana­han, who in­ter­viewed for head coach­ing jobs with Mi­ami and San Fran­cisco this win­ter, is proud of Ku­biak’s achieve­ment. They be­came close while Ku­biak worked as his of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor.

“Any­time you go into a sit­u­a­tion­where a team has­won and they ex­pect you towin and get back to a Su­per Bowl, it’s very hard to do that. Gary has met the chal­lenge,” Shana­han said. “And you can see­why his lead­er­ship skills have given them the abil­ity to get back to the Su­per Bowl. I knowGary as well as any­body— he’s not hap­py­with just get­ting there. Hewants to win it.”

Cam ses­sion.

There’s no­body in the NFL like Carolina quar­ter­back CamNew­ton. So said Bron­cos de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Wade Phillips. New­ton fea­tures a spe­cial skill set. He is ca­pa­ble of throw­ing out of the pocket, but is fea­tured reg­u­larly in the run game. The lat­ter is the hard­est part to du­pli­cate in prac­tice. Den­ver QBs Brock Osweiler and Trevor Siemian have been sim­u­lat­ingNew­ton on the scout team.

“He’s one of a kind,” Osweiler said of the for­mer Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner.

“I have done my best,” Siemian said. “You are not go­ing to do too good a job of im­per­son­at­ing him. He’s such a dy­namic ath­lete.”

In­jury re­port.

Safeties Dar­ian Ste­wart ( knee) and T. J. Ward ( an­kle) and guard Louis Vasquez ( knee) didn’t prac­tice Fri­day. Vasquez in­tended to, but he was held out from work­ing on the ar­ti­fi­cial turf when the team went in­side Pat Bowlen Field­house be­cause of the wind. All are ex­pected to be ready for the Su­per Bowl. Vasquez re­mains in a three- man ro­ta­tion at guard with Evan Mathis and rookie Max Gar­cia, a con­ces­sion to his knee in­jury.

Foot­notes.

Den­ver play­ers ap­pre­ci­ate the dif­fer­ences in how this Su­per Bowl has been han­dled. Play­ers on in­jured re­serve will fly on the team char­ter Sun­day, same as ev­ery­one else, and were in­cluded in the team pic­ture. Two years ago, the in­jured play­ers ar­rived late in the week of the game. “It shows the true team as­pect. Ev­ery­body has con­trib­uted,” said cor­ner­back Chris Har­ris, who missed the Su­per Bowl two years ago be­cause of an in­jury. “Look at a guy like ( of­fen­sive tackle Ryan) Clady. He has missed both Su­per Bowls ( with in­juries). I def­i­nitely know this means a lot for him.” ... Phillips has down­played his role in the team’s suc­cess, even as his play­ers praise him. “I am just rid­ing the train, clang­ing the bell,” Phillips said.

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