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Denver Broncos turn attention to Cleveland Browns; go after 10th straight win

Denver Broncos head coach John Fox rallies with players after win in Baltimore. Dec. 16, 2012. Photo: DenverBroncos.com

Denver Broncos head coach John Fox rallies with players after win in Baltimore. Dec. 16, 2012. Photo: DenverBroncos.com

DENVER — The Denver Broncos are now getting ready to take on the Cleveland Browns at Invesco Field at Mile High Sunday. The team is currently the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs.

Here’s what the head coach and two of Denver’s wide receivers had to say about the state of the team on Monday.

HEAD COACH JOHN FOX

On whether he watched the San Francisco-New England game
“Caught just the back end of it after I got home. Today we came in, watched our game, filled out our grade reports and started on Cleveland.”

On competing for a playoff bye during the last two weeks of the season
“Right now, I know we can control our own destiny, but if we don’t play our best game against Cleveland this week, that will be all for naught. So all our focus will be on the Cleveland Browns, a team that’s won three out of four games, plus-7 in the turnover margin, beat two teams that are in the hunt on the AFC side for the playoffs—so all our focus will be on this week against the Cleveland Browns.”

On how the team is different from Week 1
“I think we’re growing. Yesterday was the first game all season, I believe, we didn’t turn the ball over. That’s something that we have to get cleaned up. I think we went from minus-2 to zero. So that’s an area we’ve got two more weeks to get fixed. A lot of areas we need to improve on. We did put it on the ground a couple times in the return game. We were a little better in the red area, still need to work on giving up a couple of explosive plays late in games on defense. I know that’s something that needs to be addressed. So we still have a lot of work to do and a lot of improving to do.”

On whether WR Trindon Holliday will remain the team’s returner
“Yeah, at this point. He’s our best option, I believe. We do situationally use a couple different guys, but all-in-all it’s something we need to address, and we will this week.”

On P Britton Colquitt and K Matt Prater making special-teams tackles
“Actually there were two fine tackles there—one by our punter and a couple by our kicker. Ideally that’s not something we’re looking for. We do practice it, but we’d like to not use it as much as we did yesterday. Again, that’s an area—some of our coverage situations weren’t as good as they’ve been. The team we play this week in Cleveland, they’re one of the tops in both kickoffs, kickoff coverage as well as punt returns. With [Browns WR Josh] Cribbs, he’s an outstanding, Pro Bowl-type return man. Something that will be important for us this week.”

On running the ball against the Ravens
“I don’t think it was so much our opponent as it was just the mentality, something that we stressed last week. We hadn’t finished as well as I know we expect. It’s something that we’re going to need moving forward. It’s an area we need to improve at as far as our rush per carry and those types of things. It was not so much just the Ravens as it was kind of about us.”

On run defense against Ravens RB Ray Rice
“I think it’s been an excellent job by our staff, and I think about our players executing their techniques, where they fit. This scheme’s all about guys doing their job, being in the right place and how they fit different runs. They’ve worked very hard in the preparation part, and it’s carrying over to the performance on Sundays.”

On whether he worries about overconfidence
“Again, you get what you emphasize. We emphasize getting better every week and diving into the preparation. The old adage that you play like you practice has been the best measuring stick that I know of. At this point in the season, an old track coach told me way back—when I was more svelte and faster—you never look at the finish. You stay focused and you look straight ahead and you [don’t] look at the finish line. That’ll be our mindset. That’s how our guys have been good about it. They’ve been responsible about that. I don’t expect that to change.”

On whether he will consider resting players if a playoff seed is cemented
“At this point, that’s not been an option. That’s something that we’ll talk about. Right now, again, our main agenda is to get better and improve so we can be playing our best football in January.”

On whether WR Eric Decker’s success against Baltimore was a result of the Ravens taking away WR Demaryius Thomas
“I think there’s a lot that goes into that. The defense does dictate a little bit of what you do in a lot of different ways, whether it’s run-pass, who you throw to, who you run with and where. It just works out that way. I think we’ve got a quarterback [where] he’s going to take what the defense gives him. He can sort those things out pretty well, as good as probably anybody. I think that’s just a situation that happens week to week with what the opponent offers up.”

On RB Knowshon Moreno
“I’ve said it many times, my hat’s off to him, because there was a time he could’ve gotten frustrated or discouraged or whatever word you want to use. But he stayed positive. He kept working. This game’s about getting your opportunity and then taking advantage of it when you get it. I think he’s done an excellent job.”

On CB Tracy Porter
“As far as Tracy goes, they’re all competitors. They want to play. He got injured or had an illness; some guys stepped in and did well. He just needs to focus on getting better every day. I saw good improvement last week. He went a month without playing. So he’s working his way back. When that’ll happen, I can’t honestly tell you. We’ll just evaluate it every day like we do every other football player on this team.”

WIDE RECEIVER ERIC DECKER

On competing for a playoff bye during the last two weeks of the season
“Our focus is on Cleveland. Obviously, there’s a lot of ball left to be played. Cleveland is a very good team. They beat Pittsburgh, they beat Cincinnati, two playoff-contending teams again. They’ve got a great running game, and their defense is stout. Our focus isn’t on whether we get a bye or not. It’s on beating [Cleveland] and taking care of this week.”

On moving from the No. 3 seed to No. 2 last night
“It’s always nice to move up a slot, but what comes with that territory, you’ve got to take care of yourself. Play good football, make sure you win your games, and just focus on yourself. Everything else will take care of itself.”

On if his mindset changed from November to December
“I don’t think my mindset changes at all. I come to practice and work hard every day. I expect the best out of myself. In games, obviously, defenses allow different guys to be open with coverages, with different schemes. [QB] Peyton [Manning] is going to find the open guy. He’s not going to force it to somebody. He’s going to make sure he does his job to be smart with the football. That’s just a great team, when you have a lot of weapons, and you have guys stepping up to make plays.”

On how much better the Broncos can play as a group
“I thought yesterday was a good test going to Baltimore. [It’s an] intimidating place to play a good football team. To get through the scrambles in the first quarter and get that interception, to go into halftime and play solid offense in the second half, to have a good four-minute drive, I thought that we showed good flashes. I think that we’re getting closer and closer. There’s stuff we do need to work on. We do need to get better. That’s a good attribute of this team, is we’re always focusing on what we can get better at, and pushing ourselves to get better.”

On if he’s about touchdowns more than catches or yards
“I’m a touchdown guy? I like touchdowns. I like a lot of things. I like touchdowns, I like wins, I like catches. It’s all fun, winning ballgames. It doesn’t matter how many yards you got, how many catches you got. As long as you’re doing your [part] to win the ballgame, that’s what it comes down to. When the season’s over and everybody’s looking back at the season, they’re not looking at the individual, they’re looking at the team. Our goal is obviously to get to the ‘ship, and to be the world champions. That’s one week at a time, one day at a time for us right now.”

On how touchdowns compare to yards or catches
“That’s the hardest to get, I think. When you get to the red area, defenses get a lot tougher. The numbers are slimmer, are smaller, so it’s always fun to find yourself in the end zone.”

On similarities between CB Champ Bailey and Browns CB Joe Haden
“Every week, it’s nice to go against Champ and [CB] Chris Harris. Those guys are unbelievable. Our whole secondary is very good, and from training camp on, it’s made us so much better. Every day we have to go against them in one-on-ones, some team drills. It makes you raise your level of play, [and] it makes you work on things that might be a weakness, so it’s always fun to get a challenge like Haden. He’s a great cornerback.”

WIDE RECEIVER BRANDON STOKLEY

On the team feeling after the win
“Everybody understands the situation we’re in. We haven’t accomplished anything yet. It’s all about playing your best football in January. You want to feel good about what you do at the end of the regular season.”

On how close they are to a complete game
“I think there is still a lot of room for improvement. We played better this past week, but we still have room to get better. I think that’s a great thing about this team and I think we all understand that and we’re all striving to every day in practice to get better.”

On controlling their destiny for the No. 2 seed
“It’s all about going out there every day, preparing well and playing your best football that next week. If you want to play well in the playoffs, you need to finish the regular season on a high note. We want to continue to get better and we haven’t played our best football yet. I think everybody understands that once you get in the playoffs, you need to bring you’re A-Game every week.”

On the atmosphere on the field between the receivers and secondary on Sunday
“Any time you play Baltimore, it’s going to be a physical game. We all understood that, and that’s kind of the attitude we went in there with, the mindset that they’re a tough team and we’re going to have to fight for four quarters if we wanted to get a win.”

On if it was more emotional than usual
“I don’t think so. It’s usually a battle out there, especially when it’s on the road and they had lost a couple in a row and they are a proud team and they are a good team. We knew we needed to step our game up and play physical.”

On if the challenge is different as they continue to win
“I don’t think so. We’ve had a bunch of wins in a row. We kind of still take the same mindset every week. We’re going to continue to do that, so I don’t think it’s tough for us to do that. We enjoy going to work and we enjoy going out there and trying to get better and look forward to our next opponent and hopefully, playing better football.”

On if he had any doubt when they were 2-3
“No, I knew we had a really good team. A lot of people on the outside want to push the panic button. But for us, it was just about improving every week. We were a relatively young team with the system that we put in, and just getting better, knowing that good things could happen if we kept working hard. That’s what we’ve done.”

On WR Eric Decker’s numbers
“For everybody, you never know when your number is going to be called. We all continue to work hard and try to get better, and he has done that and it showed. Next week, it might be [WR] Demaryius [Thomas] getting a lot of balls thrown his way. The last few weeks, Decker stepped his game up and had the opportunities and made the most of it.

“That’s the great thing about this offense. Peyton does a great job of spreading the ball around. I think everybody really realizes that not every week is going to be your week, but we all continue to work and strive and are prepared that if that’s our week, we’re ready to go.”

Quotes courtesy: Denver Broncos