Broncos get cricket lesson on Day 1 in London

Only hours after touching down in London, two Denver Broncos

were already getting their first taste of British culture at one of

England’s most famous cricket venues.

The Broncos arrived Friday for their regular-season NFL game

against the San Francisco 49ers at Wembley Stadium on Sunday. Their

opening practice was at The Oval, a well-known cricket ground south

of the River Thames.

But before getting down to business on the football field,

offensive lineman Chris Kuper and tight end Daniel Graham each took

swings with a cricket bat, hitting the ball around the

gridiron-lined stadium.

”It was cool,” said Kuper, who traded gifts and stories with a

pair of Surrey County cricketers.

Tom Lancefield, a Surrey batsman, seemed particularly impressed

with Kuper’s position on the offensive line, where he’s constantly

butting heads against other behemoths on the other side of the


”So basically (you) just smash into other people,” Lancefield

said to Kuper, who was about twice the size of the Englishman. ”I

love it.”

The foray into cricket was short-lived, however, because the

Broncos (2-5) came to London with a job to do, notably trying to

get their season back on track in the NFL’s fourth regular-season

game at Wembley.

”Everything’s kind of going ahead as planned,” said Broncos

coach Josh McDaniels, who decided to bring his team over to Britain

four days after the Niners arrived. ”We chose to have three good

practice days back at our facility, somewhat of a normal

preparation for our players, and then go ahead and make the trip in

what we believe will still be enough time to get out bodies


Both the Niners (1-6) and Broncos are coming off losses last

weekend. Denver, however, got blown out by the Oakland Raiders

59-14. At home.

”It was an embarrassing loss. It was an embarrassing

performance for us,” Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton said. ”We’re

excited to get back on the field. It’s been a long week.

”Whenever you go out and play like that, you want to get right

back on the field and make corrections and we’re excited to do


Kuper, one of the team’s captains, said he and the other

veterans have been trying to help the younger players deal with the

lopsided loss.

”We tried to stress to everyone that adversity happens,” Kuper

said. ”We obviously didn’t think that would happen to us. We

thought we’d battle it out.”

The Broncos and the 49ers have byes after Sunday’s game, giving

them a week to recover from their European trip before they play

again stateside.

A victory for either team would certainly make that week go much


”We need to get a win,” Broncos safety Brian Dawkins said.

”That’s the main thing.”