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San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Bruce Ellington (3) is tackled by Denver Broncos strong safety David Bruton (30) and cornerback Omar Bolden (31) during the third quarter of an NFL preseason football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
NFL: Broncos look primed for another big run
First Published Aug 18 2014 12:44 pm • Last Updated Aug 19 2014 04:46 pm

Englewood, Colo. • The Denver Broncos look like they’re ready to start the season.

They had an impressive preseason debut against the Seattle Seahawks, the team that throttled them in the Super Bowl, and they christened San Francisco’s new stadium with a 34-0 shutout of the 49ers Sunday.

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Denver’s starting offense is in midseason form with three scores in four possessions with Peyton Manning completing 22 of 27 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown.

And they haven’t even shown the offense they’ll unveil against Indianapolis on Sept. 7, when starting running back Montee Ball returns from an appendectomy that’s sidelining him the entire preseason.

Denver’s front-line defense has been just as impressive, allowing one TD on four drives while DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward and Aqib Talib have shown exactly why GM John Elway committed $109.5 million to bring the trio to town.

Pass-rusher Von Miller and versatile cornerback Chris Harris Jr. haven’t suited up yet, either.

Coach John Fox cringed at the thought, however, that the Broncos look ready to start the season, one in which they’ll try to become the first team in 40 years to win a Super Bowl the year after losing it.

"No, we still have a lot of work to do," Fox said.

OK, then, certainly Manning looks ready.

"Again, we’re getting readier," Fox said. "I’m not saying we’re not ready, but we still have two more preseason games."


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With Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt and the rest of the Houston Texans in town for joint practices this week, Denver’s starters might be in for another cameo next weekend instead of playing into the third quarter as is the norm for the third preseason game.

"This week will be a good week, we’re going to practice against Houston for three days and I think depending on how the practices go, that could maybe alter the playing time situation," Manning said. "I think we’ll get a lot of game-like scenarios this week going against a good test, especially going against their defense."

About the only knock on the Broncos so far was Manning’s ill-advised run on second-and-8 from the San Francisco 9 in which he gained 1 yard before Aldon Smith smothered him.

It was a designed draw for Manning, who gained zero yards on the ground last year, when he threw for a record 5,447 yards and 55 touchdowns.

"Yeah, it’s a tendency breaker," Manning said. "You try to catch them off guard. It’s probably not really high on their alert game plan sheet, ‘Watch for the quarterback run.’ I thought I was going to score but I got one yard. Kind of humbling."

And kind of frightening for Broncos fans who saw their season flash in front of their eyes.

Not to worry, Manning, 38, wasn’t making a statement to offensive coordinator Adam Gase that he wants to run the ball some this year.

"It was not that," Manning said.

Manning’s protege, Brock Osweiler, has shown good growth in the preseason, hitting Jordan Norwood with a game-winning 34-yard dart against Seattle and throwing a 33-yard TD strike to rookie Cody Latimer on Sunday.

With Ball sidelined, Ronnie Hillman, C.J. Anderson and Kapri Bibbs have all run for TDs while Juwan Thompson, an undrafted rookie from Duke, has a team-high 69 yards rushing.

Neither Demaryius Thomas nor Julius Thomas have reached agreement on a new contract like Elway had hoped they would by now. Both are showing why the Broncos want to secure them to long-term deals with Demaryius catching 10 passes for 89 yards and Julius grabbing a 17-yard touchdown toss from Manning in San Francisco.

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