Demaryius Thomas summed up the Colts defense in two players.
“Two defensive ends that play,” he said. “The whole defense is fast.”
Head Coach Josh McDaniels took a similar stance.
“They have very disruptive players, which starts with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis on the edge — who get to the quarterback plenty and also take the ball away,” he said.
Last year’s AFC Pro Bowl starters at defensive end both start for the Colts. Together they have seven combined Pro Bowl selections and 153 sacks.
Neither defensive lineman tips the scales heavier than 270 pounds, and neither is taller than 6-foot-2, so they rely on leverage and — most of all — speed.
“Their defensive ends are as fast as a lot of teams’ wide receivers and backs,” McDaniels said.
Preparing for the tandem requires a creative mind. This week it means pitting two of the team’s defensive backs against the offensive line to give the linemen an idea of the style they’ll see on Sunday.
“They are going to be spinning, they are going to be rushing and they are going to line up a yard offside, too,” McDaniels said. “Anything we can do to simulate it, that’s what we are going to try and do.”
Freeney and Mathis outweigh Cassius Vaughn and David Bruton by a combined 107 pounds, but the Denver defensive backs will line up at defensive end on the scout team to simulate the speed of the Colts’ pass rushers.
“It’s going to be exciting to play a defensive end spot that you haven’t played,” Vaughn said.”(I’ll) just go out there and freelance a little bit, go against people bigger than you and try to outwork them a little bit.”
Of course Vaughn and Bruton can’t mix in the power-rush moves in Mathis and Freeney’s repertoire.
“It doesn’t matter what we do in practice, we are not going to be able to simulate Freeney and Mathis,” McDaniels said.
But they can try, and putting two of the teams fastest players at end is a good start.
“With Freeney and Mathis just being so fast off the ball, it’s going to help us a lot,” Vaughn said. “Whatever is going to help the team, I’m just going to try my best in doing it.”
VOTE FOR THOMAS
Following a debut in which he caught eight passes for 97 yards and a touchdown, Demaryius Thomas is up for multiple NFL awards online. You can vote for the wide receiver to win Pepsi Rookie of the Week here, and you can vote for his day to be named the GMC Never Say Never moment of Week 2 here.
BRIGGS SIGNS TO PRACTICE SQUAD
The Broncos signed linebacker Diyral Briggs to the practice squad. The 6-foot-4, 230 pound defender originally signed with the 49ers in 2009 as a college free agent from Bowling Green. He suited up for San Francisco in four games last year and the first game of this season. Now he takes over the practice squad spot vacated by Andre Brown, who was recently elevated to the active roster.
-Gabe Hiatt, DenverBroncos.com
Below are photos from today’s practice: