Josh McDaniels, Kyle Orton and Brian Dawkins took their usual turn at the podium in preparations for the Broncos-Chargers showdown this Sunday at Invesco Field @ Mile High. While Orton hopes he can go on Sunday, he DID NOT participate in Wednesday's workout.
Here is the transcript for the Presser, brought to us by our friends in the Denver Broncos P.R. Staff -
HEAD COACH JOSH McDANIELS
On QB Kyle Orton's status
"I don't know. We'll see. He's going to do everything he can to get better every day. We'll make that decision at the end of the week."
On adjusting an offensive line to a left-handed quarterback vs. a right-handed quarterback
"We're not going to really change our system, so it's not that the plays are going to be different. If we feel like we need to do something different on the backside of a player, whether he be left handed or right handed, than that is up to us as a staff to do that, but I don't think the preparation for the linemen, in general, is going to be much different. They've got to still block the same guys, and the protections that we use, we use protections where we slide left, where we slide right, where the left tackle is singled (and) where the right tackle is singled, and we do that when we have either quarterback in the game. That shouldn't make a difference in terms of what we're doing and how we're preparing. They've got to do their assignment the same no matter what hand the guy throws with."
On if Orton is questionable for Sunday's game against San Diego
"You're going to see it on the injury report today."
On switching the left and right tackles based on what arm the quarterback uses to throw
"Nobody that I know does it. I've only coached one other left-handed quarterback in my career, and he never played in a game. In terms of speaking for other coaches and other staffs that have done different things when they've had a left-hander and a right-hander, I have no idea. We're not doing that. We're going to play left and right tackle the way that we know how to play it and get ready to play the game."
On if momentum from the Broncos and Chargers' last few games will affect Sunday's result
"I don't think so. They've obviously played extremely well since we played them four weeks ago. They've really gotten on a roll and played a lot of good football. I think that they're a team that has really improved in every phase of their game. They're playing better defensively, better offensively, more balanced (and) really have improved significantly in the kicking game in basically every area on special teams. We've lost three games in a row, and I understand it seems like we're going in opposite directions, but I think this game is going to be determined by how we play on Sunday and how they play. If we have a good week of preparation and practice and go out there and play well, we know what we are capable of doing, and it ought to be a really difficult game for either one of us to get away from one another. We'll see who plays better in the second half (and) wins the game."
On how San Diego has improved since its last game against Denver
"There are a lot of things. They've only given up four sacks in the last 16 quarters. They haven't turned the ball over very much. (RB LaDainian) Tomlinson is running the ball very well. They've got the running game going pretty well right now. (They) ran the ball very effectively last week against Philadelphia. I think they're fourth in defending the run (during) the last month of the season. They've created a lot of turnovers. (OLB Shawne) Merriman and (OLB Shaun) Phillips have 10 sacks in the last four games. They've moved up significantly in punt return, net punting (and) their kickoff return in terms of where they stand in the league and how productive they've been. We know that they've been in this predicament before where they haven't necessarily started as well as maybe they would have liked, but that hasn't fazed them at all. Three years ago, they won the last 10 (games). Two years ago, they won the last eight. Last year, they won the last five. We know we're playing a team that's going to be very confident, and they should be based on the way that they're playing."
On if the special teams touchdowns in the last Broncos-Chargers game greatly affects both teams' game plan this week
"I don't believe so. I think those kick returns kept the game kind of tight. The whole second half was basically played within a score of one another. I don't think we're going to get a whole lot different in terms of what they're going to try to do to defend us or attack us on offense. Schemes will change, we understand that, but it's an explosive offense that makes a lot of big plays in the passing game. They're running the ball well. They do what they do on defense. They blitz you, and they get plenty out of their pass rush in their blitz game. We're going to have to block that in the run game, block it in pass protection and try to make some yards doing that. That's really what the first game was all about, anyways. This is a team that is very talented, and I think when you're playing a team like that, they don't have to change dramatically from one game to the next. We're going to prepare for what we've seen, and what we've seen the last four games is very similar to what we played against. They just have done things better, and they're getting better as a team. I think that last game does matter. I think there are some things that we will take from it and try to get better at, and I'm sure they're doing the same."
On if having only four days between the next two games affects the quarterbacks' repetitions in practice this week
"I don't think the short week has anything to do with it. I think if Kyle can practice then he will. If he can't practice or he is limited to some degree, than (QB) Chris (Simms) will take the reps that we feel like he needs to take just to be ready to in case we have to play him this week. If Kyle can't practice, then he'll take most of the reps, just like Kyle would. I don't really think next week is going to have a big bearing on how we handle our quarterbacks this week during the course of the week. We're going to practice the players we think are going to play in the game, and if Kyle is not out there today and he is tomorrow, whatever day it is, then we'll make that determination of how many reps he needs to get versus how many reps Chris gets, but I don't think that has anything to do with the game next week."
On if QB Tom Brandstater will get reps in practice this week
"That'll all depend. He could get a few reps. If Kyle is not practicing, yes, he will get a few reps. He always takes plenty of the defense's reps when the defense is out there. We try to get him a lot of work against high-level competition."
On if Simms will get more reps in practice as the season continues in case Orton gets injured again
"No, there are too many things that go into a game plan that you need the guy that you think is going to play-we're playing the percentages. If we've got a healthy quarterback, by and large, he's going to go play the game and hopefully, most of the time, play the whole thing. We do give (Simms) those kinds of things. He does the same drills, and we get a lot of reps in those kinds of periods in practice that simulate some of that stuff. That's what it is. Any backup player, you're talking about a backup left tackle, he doesn't get a lot of reps either, but if he has to go into the game, we're not going to change the protections because he didn't necessarily rep them in practice. It doesn't make any difference what position it is. If you're a backup player, you've got to do a great job of studying and understanding the play and knowing what to do even though you may not do it at full speed in practice against the same look that you're going to play against. That's just life, and we deal with that on a weekly basis. It just so happens it's not normally the quarterback, but there are many times in the course of a game where we're playing with a backup defensive tackle or a backup left guard or whatever it may be because we've got an injury or a bump or a bruise, and that guy goes in there and he's got to do his job."
On if timing is a factor when using a backup quarterback in practice
"Yeah, but the same case would be made with the starter. If you're going to take him out of those reps, then the guy who's playing 95, 99 percent of the time is not going to have the same reps that he needs to be effective."
On how Orton and Simms' personal strengths affect his game plan for San Diego
"Really, the only thing that's going to change-to me, the game plan is going to be set up to beat the Chargers not to just cater to one or the other (quarterback) because both quarterbacks are here because they can function in our system. The game plan this week is designed for whichever quarterback is playing to be able to be effective, and it's not going to change that much. The only thing that may change is if we're going to sprint out right or sprint out left, it'll be based on which quarterback is in the game. Other than that, the run game is the same (and) the pass patterns that we feel like can be successful this week, either quarterback is going to have to get ready to throw those. San Diego does an excellent job of defending the deep part of the field. They've given up the fewest number of big plays in the league this year. We understand what kind of defense we are playing this week. It's a talented defense that does a lot of things well and puts a lot of pressure on you, so we're not going to try to mess around to create some magical game plan for Chris and then have one kind of in the hole for Kyle or vice versa and have one ready for Chris if Kyle can't go. The game plan is the game plan. I don't think you can do that to your other players. They have to practice and they have to study one type of plan, and you have to make it go with whoever is in there. Whichever quarterback plays, that's what we're going to do."
QB KYLE ORTON
On if he will play on Sunday against the Chargers
"I sure hope so. That is the goal. I'm going to do everything that I can to be on the field Sunday. Myself just like everybody else, we're excited to move on and play San Diego and just play in this big game for the AFC West."
On the status of his ankle
"We're going to see. It is going to be a day-to-day deal. I haven't done much on it as of yet. We'll go out there and see what we can do. I'm not positive I can go today or not."
On if the injury is similar to the one he suffered last year with Chicago
"(It is a) different foot and different deal. It is different. It is not the same type of thing, but I've played with leg injuries in the past, and I hope that I can do it this time."
On if it is a high-ankle sprain
"If you're going to get that specific, you've got to talk to Greek (Head Athletic Trainer Steve Antonopulos) or (Head Coach) Josh (McDaniels)."
On comparing last year's ankle injury to this year's
"Last year was so tough because it was (painful) pushing off and that was my back leg. That was tough. This will present a different challenge, I'm sure, but we'll see if I can play through it."
On if he returned to play too early after his ankle injury last year
"I come back as fast as I can and try to lead my football team and try and be in the huddle like everybody else. This sport, you've got to play when you are dinged up, and the quarterback is no different. Did my play go down or whatever? I don't know. That is opinion, I guess, but I came back last year as soon as I could, and I'll do the same thing this year."
On how his ankle has improved since last Sunday
"I have had improvement. I haven't tried to do a whole lot, so I can't really give you any details, but I have made improvement every day so that is definitely a positive. (I am) feeling better, and I'll hopefully feel better tomorrow."
On getting treatment for the injury
"I've been in the training room every day, and I'll continue to do that until Sunday."
On how San Diego's defense has improved since Denver's first meeting with the Chargers
"The pass rush is really getting to the quarterback. It seems like the quarterbacks have had to move a lot and get out of the pocket, and they've really got into the inside of the pocket, which makes it tough. Just like when we played them last time, the cornerbacks are extremely good. There are not a whole lot of plays being made outside on them, and they are stopping the run, so we will have to be able to stay balanced."
On if San Diego's pass rush will affect his status for Sunday's game
"No. If I can sit there and throw the ball and do everything that I need to do, then I'll be playing."
On if it is difficult to play in a game after missing the majority of the team's preparation
"It is tough. It is not an ideal situation, but it is what it is, and we are going to make the best of whatever situation it is."
On if he was fully healthy when he returned from his injury last season
"No. I wasn't. I wasn't even close for the Green Bay game. That's just how it is. I don't know if anybody is feeling 100 percent right now on our team. It has been a physical season, and I'm no different."
On if he will talk to Chris Simms more this week
"We talk a bunch every week, and that won't change this week. I'm going to prepare like I'm playing, I'm sure he is going to prepare like he is playing and we will communicate throughout the entire week and make sure whoever is playing is going to do a good job."
On the offense's performance in the first half against Washington last Sunday
"We were playing well up until (I was injured), offensively speaking. We did some decent things in the first half. When the deal happened, I thought I had a decent chance for coming back out (to play) in the second half, and I came out and tried to do it, and I just wasn't able to, unfortunately. We didn't play 60 minutes, and that is why we got beat."
On if he will be a game-time decision on Sunday
"Hopefully, it is better tomorrow and I'll be practicing tomorrow. Hopefully, I'll be able to practice today. We'll just have to wait and see every day."
S BRIAN DAWKINS
On how San Diego has changed over the past few weeks
"I've always had a healthy respect for this team and the weapons that they have. (QB Philip) Rivers has always been a competitive guy. (RB) LaDainian (Tomlinson) has always been able to do the things he needed to do in big-time situations. They are playing with a high intensity right now. They are very confident. All the things that we expected in the first game, we are expecting the same things in this game, a very tough battle. (We are) going to have to be very mentally strong both sides of the field. It is going to be a very, very exciting game."
On if he will be checking on QB Kyle Orton's status
"Our job does not change. I've said this quite a few times. Our job does not change. No matter who our quarterback is, no matter what the offense is doing or whatever you want to say, our job does not change. It remains the same. We have to do a better job of doing what we are supposed to do this game and then be consistent at doing it, not having spurts of doing it and then trying to do too much at other times. We've just got to do what we are supposed to do and go up against a very, very talented team."
On San Diego RB LaDainian Tomlinson's age affecting his play
"You just go out and play your game. That is going to happen as long as you continue and mount up years. It is a blessing that you are playing. It can be a curse if you listen to the outside people because once you get past a certain age, no matter what you do or whatever mistake you make out on the football field, it is always going to be because of your age. That is what people are going to say. I know that that is not the truth. I look at him on film and still see him making the same cuts and stopping on a dime and leaving people standing right there in their shoes while he is going the other way. I see those same things happening on the football field from him. I'll let all the experts, so called, say that he can't do it because of his age. I'm going to respect (him) and I'm going to go in and expect his best game and expect me to have to be a very sure tackler against a very, very talented running back."
On players being criticized for poor play because of their age
"That's just the way it is. People, they want to find the reasons why you aren't doing something. It doesn't have to be anything, but the fact that you made a wrong read (or were) a step too slow because of guessing on something. It is always going to be because of your age, so I've learned (to) leave that alone, let people say whatever they want to say (and) use it as motivation if you want to. As I've said in the past also, I've never let somebody's opinion of me define who I am. That will never change."
On rebounding from three consecutive losses
"I've been in these things a couple of times, these things being losing streaks (and being) completely counted out, whatever the reason was, or whether we lost (Philadelphia QB) Donovan (McNabb) or whatever. I've been in these situations before. I love being put in a situation where people don't expect you to do something, or they think you can't do it. I love that. I relish that. I feed off of that. We're put in a situation that we've got to go out and do our job, but like I said, this is going to be (an) exciting, playoff type of atmosphere. These are the type of games that should just get your blood pumping and get your heart beating fast, get you breathing hard, like I'm doing right now (in) anticipation of the game."
On if having people doubt his ability due to his age motivates him
"I use those things. I told you guys that before. I won't shy away from that. I use those things as motivation. I put them into my pile and burn them, and then during the offseason, (I) make sure that when I come out that all of those questions that somebody may have had, that I answered with a definite. The things that they were saying won't be answered from a positive stand(point) from their side. The thing that I wanted to do coming here was be who my teammates needed me to be here. I've tried to give everything that I've had emotionally and physically (and) to do everything that I needed to do to let my teammates here-which I believe, they do now have complete and total confidence in me. If I'm one-on-one, I'm going to make that tackle nine times out of 10. If I'm in coverage, there is going to be a great percentage that I am going to be able to knock the ball out, get a pick or bring him down immediately. Those are the types of confidence builders that I wanted my teammates to have in me. I think that they have that in me."
On helping the Broncos stay positive mentally
"I practice what I preach, and I preach what I practice first. In other words, I'm out doing what I'm supposed to do on the football field. I'm doing what I'm supposed to do in the meeting rooms. I'm still engaged in every phase of preparing for a team with my teammates (and) having conversations. My head is not held low. My smile, it doesn't disappear from my face in the midst of a losing streak. I'm still going to have fun playing this game. Those things, young guys, especially, see that and understand that this is not a panic situation. It is a situation where the things that we've talked about the last couple of weeks of doing consistently, we haven't done consistently. In order for us to get back to where we want to be, we have to do those things consistently. The challenge is put forth, absolutely. I don't think there is not a guy in the locker room that shouldn't feel a thirst for this game. There is so much excitement for this game. There really is."
On the Chargers' performance during the past month
"You look at tape, regardless. (You) look at from when we played them last and then look at the games that they've played, obviously, since then and how much progress they've made since then. They are playing with a different fire, with a different zest that you can see on film. You just go into this game expecting their best, and then you put up your best and see whose best is the best. Like I said, it is going to be an exciting game. I'm jacked up, juiced up about it already."