The Denver Broncos got off to a hot start to begin the season with their 49-27 win over the Baltimore Ravens in week 1. Now they turn their attention to the New York Giants. It's the NFL's version of the Civil War as brother goes up against brother in Week 2.
Most of the focus will be on the quarterbacks in this matchup. The Broncos have Peyton Manning coming off his seven-touchdown performance, and the Giants have Eli Manning coming off a 400-yard day against the Cowboys.
The Giants lost on the road to the Cowboys in Week 1 and are looking to bounce back with their first home game of the season. The Broncos made a statement that they are the team to beat in Week 1 and want to continue their hot streak on the road.
The Broncos smashed the Ravens in the season opener but did not get through the game unscathed. A few key players did get a little banged up, and we'll have to monitor their status during the week of practice.
Champ Bailey (foot), LB Wesley Woodyard (ankle), SS Omar Bolden (shoulder) and WR Trindon Holliday (undisclosed) did not participate in practice Monday, Sept. 9.
We should see all the players available for the Week 2 game against the Giants. Bailey missed the opener but is on track to return to the field in the near future.
Woodyard injured his ankle when Brandon Stokley dove into his legs going after the ball that Danny Trevathan dropped before he crossed the goal line. We'll see if he can practice later in the week.
Broncos coach John Fox said he would not give any injury updates until Wednesday.
Two players that are working back to full strength are veteran tight end Joel Dreessen and rookie running back C.J. Anderson. Both are doing light agility drills and some running on the side of the practice field.
When Dreessen returns, he'll see plenty of playing time since he's the team's best blocker at the position. Anderson could work his way into the mix at the running back spot. He's more powerful than Knowshon Moreno and has more burst than Montee Ball.
What Must Improve
With the passing game looking so good for the Broncos, the attention must turn to the ground game. They could barely muster any rushing room for the running backs against the Ravens. The Broncos have to do a better job of running the rock to give them more balance on offense.
Knowshon Moreno may get another start for the Broncos as he's the most trusted back in their stable. Moreno does a good job of picking up the blitz, and we know that keeping Manning upright is priority No. 1.
He offers little as a runner and can be described as capable. Moreno does give the team a decent receiving option out of the backfield.
Ronnie Hillman is the most explosive back on the roster. However, fumbling problems in the preseason knocked him down in the pecking order. He was listed at the top of the depth chart to begin the regular season but saw the least amount of snaps at the running back position in the season opener.
He is dangerous in the open field and can get to top speed in a hurry. Hillman is explosive on the edges but struggles to run between the tackles. He is a quality receiving option out of the backfield and gives the team big-play ability any time he touches the ball.
Hillman didn't fumble against the Ravens, and if he continues to secure the ball, he could see his role grow each week.
Montee Ball played the second-most amount of snaps against the Ravens in Week 1. His snaps will continue to be limited so long as his pass protection remains a problem area.
The rookie has a nose for the end zone and finished his college career with more touchdowns (83) than any other player in NCAA history. The Broncos tried to get Ball a touchdown in Week 1 against the Ravens, but he failed to make the corner from six yards away.
Ball struggles in pass protection and was only asked to pass block twice in the season opener. His role won't grow that much if he doesn't prove himself in that area.
We know the Giants are going to game-plan for slowing down the passing game. This means we won't see many defenders stacked at the line of scrimmage to stop the run.
If the Broncos can get more from their ground game, it will improve their balance offensively. Peyton Manning is unlikely to throw for seven touchdowns in one game again. The team needs to get the ground game figured out, especially if it has plans on making a deep postseason run in 2013.
All quotes and injury/practice observations obtained firsthand.