The Denver Broncos defense was the most dominant part of the team’s 22-20 victory Friday night over the Seattle Seahawks. They allowed only 181 total yards of offense and stifled every facet of the Seahawks’ offense.

At the center of the defense’s attack was their formidable pass rush led by the familiar face of Von Miller. However, after his spectacular strip-sack of Russell Wilson, several players stepped up and made their talent visible for the remainder of the game. Six sacks, by six more players, were tallied in the contest and it illuminated the Broncos’ most encouraging depth on the roster.

“We got a lot of young guys coming in here and stepping up,” defensive end Malik Jackson said Monday. “When you go out there in your first outing and get seven sacks, a bunch of people are used and get a bunch of pressure it makes you feel good but we got to keep working.”

Miller, Jackson, Shaquil Barrett, Gerald Rivers, Kenny Anunike and Darius Kilgo all got a sack from the line while Shane Ray constantly applied pressure as well. It was an impressive effort that showed how much the group has progressed in training camp.

“It was encourage because of how we flew around,” head coach Gary Kubiak stated Monday. “You don’t want to see your success come from just one guy or two. You want to see it come from across the board because of the scheme you are playing and the guys are playing hard. So that was encouraging.”

Miller and DeMarcus Ware, who did not suit up for the game simply for veteran rest, get the majority of the attention due to their career accolades but they also have been coaching up the rest of the team and it has created a palpable energy each day from camp.

“We’ve been working all offseason and man, they went out there and played real good,” backup outside linebacker Larentee McCray said Monday. “Everybody is hungry. Everybody is trying to come out and play. Everybody feels like they can be a starter. We definitely want to be known as one the most dangerous pass-rushing defenses, along with the best defense in the league.”

The depth Kubiak and the team referenced have come as somewhat of a surprise. Miller and Ware were the only two players to consistently get to the quarterback last season and were on the path to a great combined season. However, Ware slowed down significantly in the last seven games of the season. That may be way the coaches are so ecstatic to see the pass rush come from so many players on Friday. Antonio Smith, a pass rushing defensive lineman entering his 13th NFL season, knows the importance of depth and has been pleasantly surprised with the group during his short time with the team.

“The talent is from top to bottom. By far the most talent I’ve had on one team,” Antonio Smith said Monday. “Anytime you want to be dominant team in rushing the passer you have to have more than one or two guys who can do it. I don’t think this team is one of those teams that their aim is to have just two guys getting 15-30 sacks. A goal we want to have is to lead the league in sacks.”

Ray and Jackson will have a lot of the responsibility and expectations on their shoulders to apply pressure to quarterbacks but the depth will be beneficial to keep multiple starters fresh down the stretch of the lengthy season. It was made clear who Ray’s biggest influence is on the team Monday.

“I think Von is great in everything that he does. To watch how he plays every down and every snap, (I’m) trying to build that to my own game. It is definitely very helpful for me,” Ray said.

Miller was asked Monday if he was surprised by the team’s performance Friday and his response was to the contrary.

“Yeah, I mean it’s the same stuff that we do in practice. We just got it do it against different guys. I think Shaq (Barrett) looked great. He’s been looking great in practice. Kenny (Anunike) looked awesome out there, too. It was some of the same stuff that he does in practice. I think we just had some carry over from what we did at practice into the game.”

The Broncos already boast an impressive amount of starting talent. If they second-string and relief players can continue to grow, it will only add to what should be a noteworthy defense. Smith commented Monday on the team’s mentality and it is just what Broncos coaches and fans would want to hear as the regular season quickly approaches.

“Everybody is receptive because everybody, I would say, is committed to excellence.” Smith said of the team’s mindset. “I know this is just training camp but you’re still are part of the team, you’re still family, you’re still here every day, day-in day-out with the same people trying to work to get this team to be the best they can be.”


McCray, Emmanuel Sanders and Marvin Austin Jr. were held out of practice for various injuries. McCray and Sanders should be back fairly soon. Charles Sweeton dislocated a finger and Tony Carter cramped up in his hamstring. Both left practice early. Chris Harris Jr. was held out of team drills but did participate in individual drills.

The Broncos practiced in shorts and helmets Monday and the offense started off slow. Manning was picked off twice before finishing practice strong. Andre Caldwell had two spectacular catches, one from Manning and one from Brock Osweiler. Both were for distances of 40-plus yards. Benny Fowler, who made an impressive catch in Friday’s game, had another big catch at practice.

Darian Stewart, T.J. Ward had interceptions and Kenny Anunike batted down a throw to end a team drill session. Bradley Roby ran with the starting defense at right cornerback and Tony Cater was in as the nickel corner before he left due to a cramp.

The special teams practiced at length on kick return and field goals. New kicker and punter, Spencer Lanning failed miserably on his first kickoff before displaying a strong leg in his subsequent tries. Brandon McManus, once again, displayed the strongest leg while Connor Barth continued to struggle getting elevation on his kickoffs.

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