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Broncos coach John Fox: Patriots are ‘a very talented team’

10.01.12 at 4:29 pm ET
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Coming off a 37-6 win over the Raiders on Sunday, Broncos coach John Fox said Monday that Denver has turned the page and is on to the Patriots. Fox hopes the Broncos, who suffered a 45-10 playoff loss to New England last season at Gillette, are better prepared for this game than they were back in January.

‘€œWell, that’€™s the plan. Time will tell,’€ Fox said. ‘€œIt’€™s going to be a very tough game at their place. They’€™re a very talented team. They are good in all three phases. They just strung up 52 [points]. I think they had a 31-point fourth quarter.

‘€œThey’€™ve got a lot of firepower and they have a first-ballot Hall of Fame guy under center as well. We’€™ll see. Whoever executes the best will have the best opportunity to win.’€

He said that they will take a look back at the postseason defeat as a reference point.

‘€œWe’€™ll watch it. I mean, that’€™s all we do is watch tape,’€™ Fox said. ‘€œI’€™m sure we’€™ll look at it just for matchups ‘€” some of our players versus some of their players, just to see how that went. From my memory it didn’€™t go very well. We’€™ll look at it again I’€™m sure.’€

Someone who might be able to give the Broncos some help when it comes to preparing for the Patriots is Dan Koppen. The longtime offensive lineman, who was in New England from 2003 through 2011 before being cut just before the start of the 2012 season, is expected to start at center for Denver. (Starting center J.D. Walton went on injured reserve with an ankle injury after going down against the Raiders.)

‘€œHe’€™s got that experience, just like [QB] Peyton Manning has a lot of experience,’€ Fox said of Koppen. ‘€œWhen you get to a new offense [with] new teammates, under pressure, it takes a minute to get accustomed to it. It’€™ll be the same for him as it’€™s been for Peyton.

‘€œHe had a similar injury as J.D. just had a year ago. That’€™s why he wasn’€™t with a team. We felt really good about the addition of him because he brings top-notch experience at that position. We had the opportunity to sign him and we did and I’€™m glad we did.’€

Koppen saw his first action of the year Sunday against the Raiders.

‘€œI thought he did very well,’€ said Fox. ‘€œOne thing about NFL football is the tape is never as good as you think and it’€™s never as bad as you think. We still have a lot of improving to do. Dan with more reps in practice and a better understanding of our offense, he’€™s capable of playing better, but he did a good job kind of on the job training just getting thrown out there quickly when J.D. went down. Considering all that, he did an excellent job.’€

Here are a few other highlights from Fox’€™s Q&A with the media on Monday:

On Indianapolis Head Coach Chuck Pagano’€™s leukemia diagnosis

‘€œBefore we get started, I just want to mention that I know as an organization, I know as a coaching staff, that our prayers and thoughts go out to Chuck Pagano and his family as he deals with his battle against leukemia and we wish him a speedy and healthy recovery.’€

On injuries

‘€œAs far as our football team, nothing changed on the injury report. [C] J.D. Walton has a fractured-dislocated left ankle. He is placed on IR. At this point, with [MLB] Joe Mays coming back to the football team and [TE] Virgil Green ‘€” we get an exemption for [him] for the week ‘€” right now we’€™re at the 53-man roster. We’€™ll just update you as we go.’€

On QB Peyton Manning getting more comfortable

‘€œIt’€™s like anything. The more you do it, the better you get. I’€™ve seen steady improvement in not just him but just how he operates with all his teammates. When you talk about passing the football, there’€™s a lot of moving parts whether it’€™s protection, you’€™ve got some backs, tight ends and receivers understanding hots, so it’€™s just a lot of stuff and the reactions and the adjustments are pretty intricate and I think he’€™s getting more comfortable every time he goes out.’€

On what TE Virgil Green brings to the Broncos’€™ offense

‘€œI think [Virgil] proved to us last year, in the amount of camp that he was allowed to go through, that he’€™s a good blocking tight end, he’€™s got good pass-catching skills to go with that. It’€™s kind of an area where we’€™ve been holding our breath a little bit. We’€™ve been fortunate because [TE] Joel [Dreessen] has been healthy and good, and that gives us another ‘€˜Y’€™ tight end.’€

On the center’€™s role in the no-huddle offense

‘€œIn this league, the center does a lot for every team, because they’€™re the center of everything. There’€™s a lot of communication. I’€™m not going to get too much into detail, but those two guys’€”the center and the quarterback’€”communicate a lot during the game.’€

On assessing this quarter of the season

‘€œOur goal was to be 3-1. We were short of that, but still obtainable. This is a really important next quarter because three out of four games are on the road. We do have a bye snuggled in there. Three of the four are conference games and one division game. It’€™s an important quarter and it starts this week.’€

On how WR Demaryius Thomas has grown as a blocker

‘€I thought he blocked really well yesterday. There’€™s a lot of talent in this league and a lot of teams with talent. So much of it is skill, and skill is developing all parts of your job and executing them under pressure. I think that part of it, and he had a lot of practice last year in blocking, I think his biggest growth has been in the passing game. He’€™s getting more acclimated to doing all parts of the skill of being a wide receiver.’€

On how practice was better last week

‘€œA little more sense of urgency, a little more attention to detail. A little bit more mini-game, game-like practice, so that when you get to the game, you’€™re not thinking, you’€™re just playing. That’€™s why you practice.’€

On RB Willis McGahee

‘€œI had always admired him from afar. This was going back to signing him last year. We did have some people that were familiar with him. Eric Studesville, our running backs coach, had coached him before. I was familiar with him he was at UM (University of Miami), coached guys that knew him. I think the thing that’€™s probably the most surprising is his leadership ability, being a consummate pro, how he goes about his business, I think is good for those young backs. It’€™s always important to have a good role model at a position. They can really bring along and help and show the right way to do things for young players. I think Willis has done that extremely well. The fact that he’€™s had success running the ball is not surprising to me.’€

On whether having regular refs back helped the no-huddle offense

‘€œI don’€™t know that I’€™d go right to the officials that that was the reason it worked better. The people doing it’€”our players’€”are getting better at it. But like I said last week, it’€™s really nice to have the regular officials back.’€

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