USA TODAY Sports Weekly

Miller, Bron­cos em­brace spot­light

Team will use week to re­lax af­ter three prac­tices in Den­ver

- Lind­say H. Jones @bylind­say­hjones USA TO­DAY Sports Sports · College Sports · American Football · Super Bowl · NFL Football · Denver Broncos · Gary Kubiak · Denver · Stanford University · Arizona Cardinals · Arizona · John Fox · Seattle · Pittsburgh Steelers · Pittsburgh · Peyton Manning · Cameron Newton · Tom Brady · Ben Roethlisberger · Trevor Siemian · England · Indianapolis Colts · Antonio Smith · Seattle Seahawks · Manny Ramírez · Brock Osweiler · Wade Phillips · New England Patriots · Andrew Luck · Indianapolis Colts · Indianapolis

Coach Gary Ku­biak said the Den­ver Bron­cos did all of their game-plan­ning and in­stal­la­tion dur­ing three prac­tice ses­sions in Den­ver.

There­fore, this week’s prac­tice ses­sions held at Stan­ford Univer­sity were ex­pected to be shorter than nor­mal and in­tended to sharpen and re­in­force what the team worked on at home.

“It’s re­ally hard when the game is two weeks away to ask your play­ers, your or­ga­ni­za­tion to say, ‘No, no, no, we’re play­ing this week, we’re go­ing to fo­cus this week.’ That’s hard on them, but they’ve all done a re­ally good job,” Ku­biak said.

“We’ll con­tinue our meet­ings and that stuff, and how we pre­pare to play (this week), but I want them re­laxed. They’ve done the work. I want them to en­joy them­selves and get ready to go.”

That’s a change from the way the Bron- cos han­dled their prepa­ra­tion be­fore the Su­per Bowl two years ago, and it was dif­fer­ent for de­fen­sive end An­to­nio Smith, who played in the Su­per Bowl with the Ari­zona Car­di­nals af­ter the 2008 sea­son.

The Bron­cos, then coached by John Fox, lost Su­per Bowl XLVIII 43-8 to the Seat­tle Sea­hawks. The Car­di­nals, un­der Ken Whisen­hunt, were edged 27-23 by the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers in Su­per Bowl XLIII.

“We be­lieve in him,” Smith said. “He be­lieves us get­ting the bulk of our work (ahead of time) will help us (this) week, with all the things that are go­ing to be go­ing on, all the dis­trac­tions. You al­ready have a good base­line, where you won’t be try­ing to take in knowl­edge and at the same time, you got all this other kind of stuff go­ing on.”

An­other change for the Bron­cos prac­tice rou­tine from their Su­per Bowl prepa­ra­tion two years ago was prac­tic­ing with crowd noise, as they don’t want to get caught un­pre­pared if they find them­selves need­ing to use a silent count on of­fense.

That hap­pened on their first se­ries in the Su­per Bowl against the Sea­hawks, when they opened the game near their goal line. Quar­ter­back Pey­ton Man­ning and for­mer cen­ter Manny Ramirez mis­com­mu­ni­cated on the open­ing snap, and the ball whizzed past Man­ning’s head for a safety.

Brock Osweiler, who led the team to four wins while Man­ning was side­lined with a foot in­jury in Novem­ber and De­cem­ber, is again play­ing a key role. He’s spend­ing prac­tices pre­tend­ing to be Carolina Pan­thers quar­ter­back Cam New­ton.

That means a big change from his job over the pre­vi­ous two weeks, when as the scout team quar­ter­back he im­i­tated pocket passers Tom Brady and Ben Roeth­lis­berger.

“He’s a one-of-a-kind foot­ball player, so I’m not go­ing to say I’m go­ing to be Cam,” Osweiler said. “But I’m go­ing to do my ab­so­lute best to sim­u­late what he does dur­ing games and give our de­fense the best look pos­si­ble so that they’re pre­pared.”

That means plenty of run­ning, on the di­rec­tive of de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Wade Phillips, cer­tainly far more than he or No. 3 quar­ter­back Trevor Siemian was asked to do while pre­par­ing to face the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers or New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots.

“But (Phillips) wants us to make plays in the pocket, be­cause that’s what makes Cam so dan­ger­ous. He can run, he can throw, he can throw in­side the pocket, out­side the pocket,” Osweiler said.

Osweiler said the clos­est com­par­i­son of this scout team work as New­ton could be when he sim­u­lated An­drew Luck while the Bron­cos pre­pared to play the In­di­anapo­lis Colts in Novem­ber. Just don’t ask for one of New­ton’s touch­down cel­e­bra­tions.

“I don’t think I have that club in my bag,” Siemian said, laugh­ing.

 ?? RON CHENOY, USA TO­DAY SPORTS ?? Bron­cos coach Gary Ku­biak, left, had Pey­ton Man­ning, right, and the team do the bulk of their prepa­ra­tion last week.
RON CHENOY, USA TO­DAY SPORTS Bron­cos coach Gary Ku­biak, left, had Pey­ton Man­ning, right, and the team do the bulk of their prepa­ra­tion last week.

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