The Sports Xchange

NFL Team Report - Denver Broncos - INSIDE SLANT

DeMarcus Ware was not ready to play every down -- at least not in the preseason. But 11 days after suffering a leg bruise that kept him out of practice, the former Dallas defensive end was ready for a brief appearance -- and to set the tone for what the Denver Broncos defense wants to achieve in 2014.

In March, when Ware was introduced as one of the Broncos' three touchstone defensive free-agent signings, Ware called it "brutal nasty." It was a quality Denver's defense lacked last year, riddled by injuries and hindered by the six-game suspension of linebacker Von Miller.

It took just three snaps for Ware to establish that tone in the preseason opener against Seattle. On those three plays, he burst into the backfield each time, blowing up one handoff, hitting Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson as he threw and finally, getting to Wilson for a sack.

The second of those plays was nullified by a penalty in the secondary, but the tenor was set. Even with linebacker Von Miller and cornerback Chris Harris Jr. completing their recoveries from torn anterior cruciate ligaments, the Broncos defense attacked Seattle, rather than waiting and reacting as the blows struck them. The defense continued its aggressive play, and a late end-zone interception sealed the 21-16 win.

"To be honest with you, this was a game we really wanted to win, preseason or not, just because of who the opponent was," said defensive tackle Terrance Knighton. "We wanted to be victorious, whether it's preseason or not, and then it's a little bit better beating the Seahawks."

But Ware insisted this was not about one game.

"I would take it all the way back to practice and the OTAs," he said. "We've been practicing really well and doing the right things, and we were trying to let that carry over into our first preseason game.

"We can sort of see that spark that we have, and the talent that we have on our defense and how we can play with really great tenacity, so we've got to keep that up and build each week to become the defense that we want to be."

The questions on offense are scarce. The questions on the defense remain, and will linger until it proves in the regular season that the gashings it endured last year are not replayed.

But the preseason opener was an encouraging first step.

"I would say I have a lot of accomplishing to do, but it was a good start. A good start to the first game," said Ware. "And you've got to be consistent and do that every week."


NFL Team Report - Denver Broncos - NOTES, QUOTES

--DeMarcus Ware's energetic 10 plays of work galvanized the defense, and the unit never lost its edge after that.

"Everybody came to play. First, second, third team. You see everybody scrapping and fighting, trying to make plays and win the game," said safety T.J. Ward. "It's the preseason, but you still want to win the game at the end of the day. I think everybody that played for us today gave us a good opportunity to do that."

When the Broncos made defensive mistakes, they were errors of aggression, such as Ward's grab of Russell Wilson's face mask, which led to a 15-yard penalty and cost the Broncos a fourth-down stop.

"He had my face mask, I had his, we both let go and it was what it was," said Ward.