Denver Broncos flip script and work on the weekend

BY foxsports • January 9, 2016

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) The Denver Broncos are the only one of the four teams with a first-round bye who had to work this weekend.

The Patriots, Panthers and Cardinals all practiced Wednesday through Friday.

Broncos coach Gary Kubiak gave his team a three-day furlough at the start of the week and gathered the players for three days of light practices that concluded Saturday.

''I've been a part of the week where you go early in the week, give them a long weekend, you come back. I don't like that,'' Kubiak said. ''I want to stay in the moment of football.''

Kubiak said his players will get two days off sandwiched around Monday's hour-long practice. ''So, we're going to get plenty of reset, but not to the fact that we're getting away from ball,'' Kubiak said. ''I want them in the moment watching what's going on today and focused.''

Kansas City visited Houston and Pittsburgh was at Cincinnati in the AFC's wild-card round Saturday. The lowest remaining seed will visit Denver on Jan. 17 in the divisional round.

Five Broncos missed the entire three days of workouts: DeMarcus Ware (knee); Chris Harris Jr. (shoulder); T.J. Ward (ankle); Darian Stewart (hamstring); and Brock Osweiler (knee). Stewart's injury is the most concerning. The others are expected back at practice next week.

''We would have had a hard time playing this week,'' defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said.

Peyton Manning saw to it that wouldn't happen.

He replaced Osweiler in the second half last Sunday and led Denver to a 27-20 over San Diego that clinched the AFC's top seed for Denver for the third time in four years.

A loss would have sent the Broncos (12-4) tumbling into the wild-card round and a trip to Houston on Saturday.

Kubiak said Manning had no setbacks with his sore left foot this week.

''He's good. He's really had a good week. He looks really fresh out there and is throwing the ball well,'' Kubiak said. ''I think it's been a good three days for our team. ... We've gotten some guys freshened up and in a good frame of mind.''

During the three days his team had off this week, Kubiak decided to stick with Manning as his QB.

''I love Peyton,'' linebacker Brandon Marshall said. ''I like Brock, too. It doesn't really matter to me. As long as our defense is playing at a high level, we're going to win every game.''

Denver's defense finished No. 1 in the NFL for the first time in franchise history. The Broncos came up 33 yards short of leading the league in rushing defense. They were tops in total defense, sacks and yards allowed through the air.

Despite their swagger, they felt they deserved more than four Pro Bowlers and one All-Pro first-teamer, Von Miller said.

''But the most important (honor) is the Super Bowl,'' Miller added, ''and that's what we're here to get.''

To join the pantheon of great defenses - the `85 Bears, the Ravens of 2000 - the Broncos realize they'll have to use their perceived snubs as kerosene to get the real kudos, linebacker Danny Trevathan said.

''All we can do is put together the best three games, the best performance that the NFL has ever seen, and let them decide who deserves to be there and who doesn't,'' Trevathan said.

NOTES: Trevathan and Marshall are Denver's co-winners of the Ed Block Courage Award after recovering from offseason surgeries to post 110 and 101 tackles, respectively. ... Marshall (high ankle sprain) returned to practice Saturday. ... Manning said he was thrilled that Adam Gase, his QB coach and OC in Denver, was hired as coach of the Dolphins on Saturday. Said Manning: ''He'll be an excellent head coach.''

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton



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