4:34 P.M. CDT: Just arrived here in the press box at Reliant Stadium a few minutes ago. There’s already music blasting through the speakers even though it’s clearly not open to the public yet.
4:34 P.M. CDT: The Bull Pen Pep Band was just warming up on the sidelines, and the Texans cheerleaders got in a quick practice before running off the field a couple seconds ago. The music stopped for the national anthem singer to practice the anthem a few times in a row — kind of cool to hear repeatedly a day after the Olympics started.
4:37 P.M. CDT: One quick note: Spencer Larsen has changed his number from 54 to 46. The switch allows him to play both fullback and linebacker without having to check in on every play.
4:38 P.M. CDT: A few players from both teams are already on the field practicing, including Ben Hamilton. The press box here is at the very top of the stadium, so it’s pretty tough to tell which players are which, but Hamilton’s hair is a pretty quick give-away.
4:40 P.M. CDT: In case you hadn’t heard, former Bronco Mike Bell was released from the Texans on Friday.
4:45 P.M. CDT: Alright…headed down to the field to snap a couple pictures. Talk to you guys when I get back.
5:20 P.M. CDT: Back with some pictures to post. Adam Zinser and I went and scoped out some good warm-up shots. A couple more updates: the Broncos will be wearing their home blue jerseys for the game tonight. And the roof of Reliant Stadium is closed, making for a much nicer atmosphere inside than it is on the very humid outside.
Now for the pictures.
5:25 P.M. CDT: Jay Cutler was just out on the field having a conversation with Texans quarterback Matt Schaub. Players are coming in and out to stretch, and the public still hasn’t started filing in an hour and a half before kickoff.
6:09 P.M. CDT: The team just released a couple of line-up changes for tonight:
-Casey Wiegmann will start at C for Tom Nalen
-Kenny Peterson will start at DT for Dewayne Robertson
-Domonique Foxworth will start at CB for Champ Bailey
-Marquand Manuel will start at SS for Hamza Abdullah
In addition to the four players mentioned, Chad Mustard, who is on the PUP list, Ryan Torain, who recently had surgery on his elbow, and Peyton Hillis are also not dressing for tonight’s game.
6:20 P.M. CDT: The teams are out on the field for some warm-up drills with their respective position coaches. Fans are starting to fill the red and blue seats and it’s starting to get pretty exciting — it’s about 40 minutes until the first real football action of 2008 for the Broncos and it’s also my first NFL game in a press box. Pretty cool stuff.
6:35 P.M. CDT: The Broncos are running through some 11-on-11 drills and the Texans are jogging off the field. The clock counting down to kickoff just above the giant video screens reads 30:31. Now the Broncos are jogging off the field as well.
6:43 P.M. CDT: The video screens are playing what looks to be the Texans’ theme song — the chorus keeps repeating “Welcome to the greatest city of all: Houston, Texas,” and it just flashed up the lyrical gem: “The spirit of victory is blowing round in the air.”
6:58 P.M. CDT: The national anthem is finished and the Broncos introduced the defense as a whole. Now the crowd is standing and applauding as the Texans cheerleaders are running out in between balls of flame.
7:03 P.M. CDT: The Texans are introducing their defense as well — and the team ran out between the cheerleaders in their positions. The teams
7:04 P.M. CDT: The teams are ad midfield for the coin toss. The Broncos captains for tonight are Ebenezer Ekuban, Jay Cutler, Daniel Graham and Mike Leach.
7:05 P.M. CDT: The Broncos call tails. It is tails. The Broncos want the ball. Alright, the first quarter is on the way — time to switch on over to the first quarter blog.
-Gray Caldwell, DenverBroncos.com