DENVER (CBS4) – While you were BBQ-ing and relaxing this Labor Day weekend, the Denver Broncos were putting in some true labor and working to improve.
The NFL’s regular season is now only five days away for Denver, who kicks off against the Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday in one of the most eagerly anticipated Mile High season openers in recent history.
The two teams last met up in January with the Broncos sending the Steelers home early, beating them 29-23 in a truly wild overtime Wildcard playoff game. After a back-and-forth battle all day long, Tim Tebow connected with Demaryius Thomas on a spectacular 80-yard touchdown on the first play of overtime.
While the Steelers will be hungry to exact revenge, they won’t be playing against the same team.
Peyton Manning now holds the reins of the Broncos’ offense, and the team enters the first week of 2012 extremely healthy.
Veteran guard Chris Kuper was the only player to sit out of practice Monday according to the Denver Post’s Lindsay Jones, and he won’t play this Sunday. Kuper, who broke his right forearm on August 14, is still one-to-two weeks away from suiting back up. An anchor on the offensive line with seven years experience, he is the most veteran player of the unit. Sixth-year professional Manny Ramirez has stepped in and played well, but there’s no doubt Denver wants Kuper back ASAP.
Outside of Kuper, the Broncos haven’t announced any injuries — solid news heading into Week 1 and an indicator of well managed preseason.
Tony Dungy visits Dove Valley
Practice ended up being more than drills on Monday — It was inspirational for some, nostalgic for others, as former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy was at Dove Valley for the day.
Dungy, a renowned leader both on and off the field, coached Manning for seven years, from 2002-2008, including the Colts’ Super Bowl XLI win over the Chicago Bears in 2007.
Dungy also coached current Denver wide receiver Brandon Stokley and tight end Jacob Tamme in Indy, and he took time to talk with the three about life, not football.
“It’s always great to see him. When you see someone like that and you haven’t seen them in a long time it’s just catching up on some old times, how his family’s doing,” said Stokley to Andrew Mason of CBSSports.com.
Denver Depth Chart changes slightly
Making some final tweaks for Sunday’s game plan, there were some noticeable modifications to the lineup.
Running back Knowshon Moreno, who was originally listed as the team’s No. 4 back, has leap-frogged Lance Ball and Ronnie Hillman into the No. 2 spot behind starter Willis McGahee. It’s still unclear how many handoffs Moreno — who has battled back from a torn ACL in December — will receive as McGahee looks to be the featured back.
On defense, veteran Mike Adams has moved into the starter role at strong safety, while second-year man Quinton Carter is now listed as the backup. Carter was starting along 2011 draft mate Rahim Moore, but coaches apparently are seeking more experience in the secondary, which Adams brings.
The Broncos enjoyed a day off from practice Tuesday.
Rich Kurtzman is a Denver native, Colorado State University alumnus, sports nerd, athletics enthusiast, and competition junkie. Currently writing for a multitude of websites while working on books, one on the history of the Denver Broncos and Mile High Stadium. Find more of Rich’s Denver Broncos pieces on Examiner.com.