John Lynch could scarcely contain his excitement Monday afternoon.
The Broncos had just worked their way through a practice that lasted a little over an hour, but if ever there was a practice session that got Lynch’s blood coursing through his veins at just a little quicker pace, it was this one — not so much because of the on-field work, but because of what it symbolized.
“Now you get this feeling in your gut, when you wake up (Monday) morning that it’s finally game week,” he said.
It’s game week for everyone — players and fans alike. The Broncos work into their normal game-week schedule Wednesday with meetings and practice; from this point forward, the haphazard recent slate — two games in five days last week — yields to a routine familiar to all but the rookies in Denver’s midst.
If you don’t want to read about my fantasy-football doings, skip the next paragraph:
I was involved in the last of my fantasy drafts Tuesday night, and I was fairly pleased with my outfit in the eight-team league that includes a raft of fellow DenverBroncos.com contributors, although a communications snafu — and I’m not blaming anyone here; these things happen — meant that the draft came up one round short of what I expected it to be, leaving me scouring the waiver wire for a defense. It’s my own fault; I just couldn’t resist taking a late-round flier on Jacksonville’s Matt Jones, nor could I pass up quarterback Kurt Warner in the 13th round, even though he shares a bye week with my projected starter, Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb.
If you skipped ahead, welcome back. If not, thanks for indulging.
There’s a few storylines we’ll come back to over the next few days in our coverage leading up to the game, and here’s four that come to mind as I write well past the midnight hour:
1. Openers: Denver has won eight of 11 Week 1 games under Head Coach Mike Shanahan. One of the three losses was at St. Louis, when the Rams had a new coach just as they do Sunday, although the situation around the club was very different for Mike Martz in 2000 as the defending champions than it is for Scott Linehan, even though some of the names in the blue and gold are the same: Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Adam Timmerman, Andy McCollum, Leonard Little, Orlando Pace and Jeff Wilkins.
2. Running Backs: Shanahan reminded the press Monday that he won’t divulge the Broncos’ starter at the position until Sunday. St. Louis, meanwhile, charges headlong into the Steven Jackson era with Marshall Faulk on injured reserve and working with the NFL Network.
3. Corners vs. Receivers: Both teams brandish a pair of wideouts who have recent Pro Bowl appearances on their résumé: Rod Smith and Javon Walker for Denver; Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce for St. Louis. But no Rams cornerback is nearly as decorated as Denver’s Champ Bailey.
4. Artificial Turf: We have to mention it, since this will be the Broncos’ only game on an artificial surface during the regular season, and the Rams were not too long ago dubbed the “Greatest Show on Turf.” They were 2-1 on artificial surfaces last year and have won four of their last six regular-season games on artificial surfaces — all on the road, of couse. St. Louis is 38-25 on artificial turf since 2001 (12-11 on grass), but was 4-9 on artificial surfaces last year versus 2-1 on grass.
Over and out for now.