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Broncos coach, players say they’re ready for the regular season

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Coach John Fox, players speak out about the regular season:

HEAD COACH JOHN FOX:

  • “We’re going to announce those [captains] on Wednesday. We’ll take the vote and we’ll announce those Wednesday and I’ll let you know then.”
  • “Well it’s like any race. How you come out of the starting blocks is important so it’s something we’re emphasizing and trying to do [to] the best of our ability like our opponent, Pittsburgh, is. It’s always important. They’re all really important games.”
  • The familiarity works both ways. We tape everything we do so that’s all out there and I’m sure they’re studying our tape just like we’re studying theirs. Just like any one of these games you [get] what you prepare for.”
  • “We’re definitely different than we were a year ago. But they all present the same challenges. It’s who plays best on that given day and it won’t be any different than any season.
  • “I think ideally, that’s what you try and do is build. We had some areas of concern in the off season and we’ll see how well we address those once these games start.”

 RUNNING BACK RONNIE HILLMAN:

  •  “Now it’s real. It’s on the record now. It doesn’t get erased. Now it’s preparing for [Pittsburgh] and getting ready.”
  • “It’s a number [21] that I had when I was in Pop Warner so when it was available I wanted to jump on it.”
  • “It’s my first one. It’s going to be my first experience of a real game and you get the whole atmosphere of it. Hearing everything, going through everything, just going through the practice right now leading up to a game, it’s something new.”
  • [RB] Willis [McGahee] is always saying, ‘Be patient and it will come.’”

 LINEBACKER STEVEN JOHNSON:

  • “Going along during the preseason, I felt like each and every game, I was trying to improve on certain things, such as moving quicker on drops and reads and stuff like that. Toward the last game, I felt pretty comfortable out there. I was making some plays. I’m just looking forward to keep getting better.”
  • “It’s a blessing. I was out here every day, just trying my hardest. I only know how to go one speed, so sometimes, [the coaches] were like, ‘Slow down,’ and I’m like, ‘Hey, I’m trying to make this team.’ That was my dream. God has allowed it to be that way, and I’m thankful for Coach [John} Fox and [Executive Vice President of Football Operations John] Elway for believing in me that I could out and contribute right away on special teams, and actually be a good backup to [LB] Joe [Mays] on defense. I’m thankful, and looking forward to getting better and helping out the Broncos.”
  • “When you’re an undrafted free agent, you feel good, but at the same time, it’s like, ‘I don’t know,’ because you never know what can happen in this business. I felt like I went out there and put my best foot forward. I only played 30-some plays, but I was pretty productive. I was happy. I got a few phone calls from my dad; he said I played pretty well, and hopefully the next day I’ll be on the team. That’s how it worked out, and I’m just thankful.”
  • “I was listening to a lot of music, sitting in my room, just staring at the ceiling. Friday, when we got here, I was just scared. My heart was beating the whole time. I didn’t want to look anybody in the eye. I had my head down the whole time, but that’s just being a rookie. [You get] rookie jitters and being nervous. I’m here now, and I’m very thankful.”
  • “I couldn’t stop smiling. I was actually talking to my former teammate, Chris Harris. He was my roommate in college for a certain amount of time when I was a walk-on. He said congratulations. I kind of did it again, you know. Being a college free agent is kind of like being a walk-on. I beat those odds twice, and I’m just looking forward to the opportunity. I’m very excited to be a part of a team like this with [QB] Peyton Manning, and hopefully we can go far.”
  • “Dad got the first call. He was excited at first, and then he started crying. I was like, ‘Man, my dad’s crying.’ It was weird. I’ve never seen my dad literally cry, but he was very excited. And I called my mom, and she was very excited, and my whole family found out. They’re just very excited with joy that I made my dream come true.”
  • “My dad may come, maybe one of [my family members]. My family’s from Philadelphia, so getting out here is tough. I’m pretty sure they’ll be watching on TV, but I’m pretty sure my dad’s going to try and come.”
  • “Chris had a big factor in it. By him coming from my school and then coming here and making the team, it gave me a little bit of comfort. He knew the people out here. He told me that [there were] great coaches, great facilities, great people, and I’m going to have a great opportunity to come out here. I was talking to [Linebackers] Coach [Richard] Smith. He told me, ‘We see what you’ve done in college, and we think you have a good opportunity to come out here and contribute.’ That was what I went with. There were a lot of teams talking to me, but at the end of the day, I was like, ‘I’ll go somewhere where I know somebody, so I can feel a little bit comfortable, and just try to put my best foot forward.’” 

 WIDE RECEIVER BRANDON STOKLEY:

  •  “A year ago, I was on my couch going into the season so anytime that you make the 53-man roster, it’s an accomplishment. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first year or 20th year so, for me, anytime I make the roster it’s a blessing and a lot of hard work goes into it.”
  • “You could tell today the tempo got taken up a notch and it’s just going to continue to do that but it’s always kind of a different feel when you’re done with the preseason and you’re heading into the first week of the regular season. You can just tell. It’s a different attitude, different feel out there. It’s always great heading into that first week.”
  • “I feel definitely blessed to be back playing with a quarterback of that magnitude. Spending four years with him and then leaving there and you kind of start to take for granted what you had there in [Indianapolis], so being a little bit older now, I appreciate everything a little bit more and know that you never know when you’ll get another opportunity like this.”
  • “That’s another thing that’s awesome for me. I get to play, get to go home and sleep in my own house and my own bed at night rather than an apartment and get to see my family every day so for me that’s big. That helps every day. Just being able to see them and play here in Denver is another great thing.”
  • “It’s really about my kids and where I wanted to raise them and see them grow up. The opportunities that they have growing up out here, you can pretty much do anything you want as a kid. Sports, non-sports, any kind of sport, whatever you want to do, it’s available out here. Schools are great—clean place—I just grew to love it.”
  • “I feel great. My body feels as good as it’s felt in a long time. I’m looking forward to it. I’m really looking forward to this year.”
  • Every week is going to be tough and Pittsburgh has always been one of the top defenses in the league. It’s a great challenge for us, so I think it’s a good thing. You better be on your game early and you better be ready to play or you’ll get embarrassed.”
  • I’ve definitely seen them [Thomas & Decker] improve from the beginning to now and I think you’ll continue to see that improvement throughout the season and throughout their years with Peyton. That’s the great part about playing with Peyton. He demands accountability and perfection out there and so guys take to that and they seem to work a little harder and pay attention to the details a little bit more.”

LINEBACKER WESLEY WOODYARD:

  • “It’s here. This is what we’ve been waiting for. We have our 53 guys and our eight guys on the practice squad. We’re ready to hit the field running. Today we came out here [and] everybody came out ready to practice today. We had fun, flying around, making plays. That’s something that shows that we’re ready to play.”
  • “Now it’s no time for the soreness and the pain. That’s all gone with summer camp. Now it’s at that [16]-game stretch that we’re waiting for.”