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Vic Fangio on Broncos’ identity: ‘We know who we are’

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The Denver Broncos are preparing for the Oakland Raiders in the first regular season game of the 2019 season. Here’s what coaches and players had to say on Monday.

NFL: Preseason-Arizona Cardinals at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos had their first regular season practice session on Monday after a flurry of roster transaction that Head Coach Vic Fangio referred to as ‘roster gymnastics’ that all teams go through during this time of the year. The team added six new players who all reported for duty in the early morning hours before that first practice session.

However, the focus and only focus is on the next opponent - the Oakland Raiders. The Broncos will battle their most hated rival on the road on Monday Night Football to open up the season.

Here are some highlights on what was said during the Monday presser.

It’s Week 1 and that’s all that matters now

  • The Raiders have a lot of unknowns going for them heading into the season. Fangio and his staff will have little tape to review on their starting roster, but in many ways the same could be said of the Broncos who played their starters sparingly in the preseason. On the challenges faced, Fangio said: “This one provides more challenges in that usually when you have a coaching change at a team, you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get. Their offensive coaching staff stayed the same, but they have a lot of new players. Most of those players didn’t play in the preseason very much, so all this Raiders that we’re watching—[WR] Antonio Brown is not on it, [RB Josh] Jacobs isn’t on it, the receiver from the Chargers (Tyrell Williams) isn’t on it. There are a lot of guys that you know you’re going to be playing against that aren’t on the tape, so that makes it challenging.”
  • Instead, Fangio will be focused on defending against the scheme tendencies that Oakland does. From what we saw from the first-team defense in the preseason, it looks like they’ll be pretty damn good and now we’ll get to see if it is for real or a mirage. Fangio on how he plans to prepare for Oakland: “You just watch their scheme. They have a lot of on offense, they always have. They run all the personnel groups and run different packages and different X and O things from a gun offense to a quarterback-under-center offense. You don’t know where their guys are going to be, you just have to say if he’s here or if he’s there.”
  • Winning that first game is always a good tone setter for the first quarter of the season and taking one away from a division rival on the road would be a huge confidence boost for a team coming off a disappointing 6-10 season. Emmanuel Sanders talked a lot about how important those early wins are to finishing out with a contender-type season saying: “I was talking to the young guys. I said, ‘In ‘15 we started off 8-0.’ Every year I’ve been here we’ve started off hot when we were winning. It’s all about starting off hot so we have to do that. I think this might be my first game as a Bronco on the road opening up so it’s’ going to be different, but it’s Monday Night Football and I love when the lights are bright so I’m looking forward to that.”
San Francisco 49ers v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Joe Flacco is a baller

  • Emmanuel Sanders continued to sing praise on new Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco, calling him a ‘baller’ and how close he views him to Peyton Manning. Sanders elaborated on what fans should expect from Flacco saying: “Flacco’s a baller. He’s a baller, probably one of my favorite quarterbacks of all-time. Him and Peyton, they’re close, neck and neck. I’m looking forward to going out on Sundays and competition with him week-in-and-week-out because I know what type of guy he is. I know the type of energy he’s going to bring and I know he’s going to be consistent with his personality because I just know it just hanging out with him. I’m looking forward to just going out and trying to showcase our talents together and hopefully we can be one of those duos and put up a lot of points and win a lot of games.”

Broncos found a return specialist too

  • When the Broncos claimed Diontae Spencer off waivers, it was clear they wanted him as a return specialist. That 4.34 speed could be fun to watch. Fangio noted what Spencer’s film showed: “He was a good returner. He’s got a lot of experience doing it. He’s quick, he’s fast and he’s a seasoned returner.”
  • Diontae Spencer returned a lot of kicks in the Canadian Football League from 2015-2018. He ended up with two punt returns for touchdowns, one for 96 yards and the other for 87. Spencer went on to talk about what the keys were to being a good returner: “I just think it’s trusting yourself, trusting the guys that are out there blocking for you and being consistent. That’s the biggest thing. As the punt returner you always want to put the offense in good field position and if you can score that’s a bonus. For me it’s all about trusting in myself, believing in myself, believing in my teammates, knowing that they’re going to be out there blocking for me and giving 110 percent.”

And if you thought this was the same old Broncos...

  • Fangio is a no nonsense guy and if something doesn’t make sense, he gets rid of it. Picking season captains - to Fangio - made no sense, so its gone: “We just have game captains no season captains.”
  • It’s not just the captain thing either. He was brutally honest about what he expects from this football team heading into September football. They are who they are, but they will likely learn some things along the way: “No, we hope we know who we are. Now, obviously we may learn some things in these games that we will find out or anticipate or things that we do better or who does better individually. But no, we’re trying to go out and we think we know who we are and play that way right now, but it could change.”