While rookie Robert Ayers is new to the Broncos-Raiders rivalry, he is far from new to the talent on the Oakland sideline.
Ayers’ battles against JaMarcus Russell and Darren McFadden date back to their college days as rivals in the Southeastern Conference.
Leading the LSU Tigers, Russell completed 24-of-36 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-24 victory over Ayers’ Tennessee Volunteers on Nov. 24, 2006. The best term Ayers could use to describe Russell’s arm was “cannon.”
“He can throw that thing anywhere as hard as he wants,” Ayers said. “He can get it to the receivers and he’s a guy that keeps getting better. Each year he’s gotten better. He’s a tough guy to gameplan against.”
Complementing Russell in the backfield is another former foe in McFadden. Ayers saw the Arkansas alum rack up 117 yards on 25 carries in a 34-13 victory by the Volunteers over the Razorbacks on Nov. 10, 2007.
With the 1-2 punch of McFadden and Michael Bush, Ayers said the Broncos’ defense will be tested.
“McFadden is more of an outside guy, he likes to hit the edge and turn the corner,” Ayers said. “Bush, he’s an inside guy, but he has game-breaking speed too. Both guys are real fast and real physical and they are tough to contain.”
PREPARING TO SEE MORE OF SEYMOUR
During his tenure with the New England Patriots, Head Coach Josh McDaniels saw Richard Seymour’s skills on a daily basis.
While McDaniels has minimal knowledge of how the trade to Oakland happened, he’s plenty aware of what Seymour’s addition does to the AFC West landscape.
“I know this: a really good football player came into our division, and we have got to block him two times a year,” McDaniels said. “I am not really sure exactly how that all transpired, but I know this: he is in Oakland and playing really good football and is excited to be there. You can see how he is getting acclimated to their system.”
As Seymour finds his role in Oakland’s scheme, McDaniels hopes his familiarity with the all-pro defensive end will help the offense find a better understanding of the Raiders’ gameplan.
“I think the more familiar you are with the people on the other side, you can try to explain their style of play or maybe some tendencies that they have, the way that you feel that you could be most successful against those guys,” McDaniels said. “Hopefully, that will carry over for us on Sunday.”
The Broncos’ Week 3 Injury Report included several changes on Friday. After fully participating in Thursday’s session, Brandon Marshall (illness) was not listed on Friday’s report. A limited participant in Thursday’s session, Brandon Stokley (thigh) did not participate in Friday’s session. He is questionable for Sunday’s game against Oakland. After not participating in Thursday’s practice, Ben Hamilton (hamstring) was a full participant in Friday’s practice and is probable for Sunday. After not participating on Friday, Knowshon Moreno (groin) was added to the report. He is questionable for the Raiders game.
On the Oakland side, wide receiver Johnnie Lee Higgins (shoulder) went from limited participation on Thursday to full participation on Friday. He is probable for Sunday’s game. Defensive end Richard Seymour (knee) did not participate in Friday’s practice, but is probable for Sunday’s game.
Here are some more photos from the onset of Friday’s practice, including a quartet of wide receivers wearing pajamas on a brisk day at Dove Valley.
– Chris Gentilviso, DenverBroncos.com