Speedy Hillman, Sanders lead Broncos past AFC West foes San Diego
By Johnny Hart
The San Diego Chargers may have been on the field for Thursday Night Football this week, but it was the Denver Broncos who showed the lightning.
It’s only fitting that on a quick turnaround for Denver that the Broncos were able to show off some speed in Thursday night’s 35-21 win over the Chargers
On the ground, speedster running back Ronnie Hillman notched his second straight 100-yard as a follow up to his breakout performance Sunday night.
In the air, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders burned the Chargers secondary for three touchdown score.
It’s no coincidence that both Sanders and Hillman rank among the fast Broncos on the 53-man roster.
Following the win at home, head coach John Fox said the club’s front office made a conscious effort during the offseason to pick up the pace on the field –– including bringing the free agent Sanders.
“One of the things that (general manager) John Elway and his staff went out and wanted to increase our team speed in all phases of the game,” Fox said. “I think we’ve done that.”
Manning said he asked around about Sanders when the club first signed him, trying to get “an idea” about him as a player, but that he didn’t know about the fifth-year wideout’s quickness.
“He was much faster than I anticipated, and he’s got that acceleration where he’s a hard guy to overthrow, or for me anyway,” Manning said.
For Sanders, who set a career high with three touchdown scores Thursday, said he’s just blessed to be in what he’s dubbed “wide receiver heaven” with Manning at the helm.
“When I entered the free agency process, I said I wanted to go to a team that is going to spread the football around and that’s going to throw it, because that’s what I was used to in college at SMU …,” Sanders said. “I’m just happy to be a part of it, obviously, and hopefully we just keep throwing the football.”
As for Hillman, Manning praised his burst and lamented a missed opportunity to hook up with the young running back late in the game.
“I’m so disappointed I missed him on that one throw late, and we had to punt. Getting him the ball in space when he had a chance for a big play,” Manning said.
Denver will have the weekend away from football before they get back to work Monday in preparation for road matchup with the New England Patriots a week from Sunday.
Broncos DT Knighton: Short week 'more mental,' 'about who wants it more'
Editor's note: Catch Monday Night Madness with Terrance Knighton at 5:30 p.m. in The Locker Room with Nate Kreckman live from Dave & Busters throughout the football season. Tune in on 1023 and 1055 ESPN or listen online at ESPNDenver.com.
By Johnny Hart
The Denver Broncos had but a few (regular season) blemishes in 2013 on the way to a 13-3 record and a trip to the Super Bowl.
Among those blemishes was a Thursday Night Football loss at the hands AFC West rivals San Diego in Week 15 –– Denver’s only home loss of the season.
The Chargers and Broncos again will face off this week on a short turnaround, in prime time, on Thursday Night Football.
In The Locker Room this week for Monday Night Madness, Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said it’s a mental challenge to have such a quick turnaround –– in Denver’s case from prime time Sunday to prime time Thursday.
“You know, it’s more mental. A lot of guys bodies aren’t ready by Thursday, but it’s about who wants it more,” Knighton said. “So it’s about who prepares themselves mentally and who can fight against adversity better.”
Knighton said preparing better for the short week is something the team took away from the loss last season to San Diego.
“Well I think something we learned from last year, guys are more focused on getting their bodies back. And we’re just going to let the process handle itself,” Knighton said. “Our coaches are going to take good care of us.”
Denver’s players had film and a short lift Monday, according to Knighton, but no interaction with coaches.
Tuesday, he said, would be like a regular Wednesday practice, minus the pads and more like a walkthrough.