NASHVILLE – The Titans face the Denver Broncos on Monday night at Empower Field at Mile High.
Here's a quick look at the Broncos:
Last game: December 29, 2109: Broncos 16, Raiders 15.
Points for/against (in 2019): 17.6/19.8 ppg.
NFL RANKINGS (all stats 2019)
Offense: 28th overall, 298.6 ypg (20th rushing, 28th passing).
Defense: 12th overall, 337.0 ypg (16th rushing, 11th passing).
Head coach: Vic Fangio.
QB: Drew Lock (100-of-156, 1,020 yards, 7 TDs, 3 INTs, 89.7 rating).
Top RB: Phillip Lindsay (224 carries, 1011 yards, 7 TDs).
Top WR: Courtland Sutton (72 catches, 1,112 yards, 6 TDs).
Top TE: Noah Fant (40 catches, 562 yards, 3 TDs).
Sacks: DL Von Miller (8).
Leading tackler: S Justin Simmons (93).
Interceptions: S Justin Simmons (4).
Take/Give: +1 (17-16).
Kicker: Brandon McManus (29-of-34 FGs, 25-of-26 PATs).
Punter: Sam Martin 45.3 (41.8).
Last meeting: October 13, 2019: Broncos 16, Titans 0.
-Broncos defensive lineman Jurrell Casey played from 2011-2019 with the Titans.
-Broncos offensive line coach Mike Munchak spent his entire playing career with the Houston Oilers, and he also served as head coach of the Titans from 2011-13.
-RB Melvin Gordon is scheduled to make his NFL debut with the Broncos after a five-year career with the Chargers.
-The Broncos selected former Alabama receiver Jerry Jeudy in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
LB Mark Barron (hamstring)
OLB Von Miller (ankle)
OLB Bradley Chubb (knee)
G Graham Glasgow (ankle)
WR KJ Hamler (hamstring)
TE Albert Okwuegbunam (ankle)
WR Courtland Sutton (shoulder)
S Trey Marshall (wrist)
HEAD COACH VIC FANGIO
On if he expects OLB Von Miller to miss the entire 2020 season
"There's a chance of that. It's too early to say for sure. He's definitely out for a while."
On Miller's recovery timetable and if will be placed on injured reserved
"I don't know that yet. He'll be on IR at some point."
On what happened on the play where Miller suffered his injury
"It was a normal play. He just rushed around the edge and never hit the ground and never looked bad. If you saw the video, you'd think nothing happened, but it did."
On who will assume the leadership role in the locker room with Miller missing extended time
"The whole team has to pick up the void. It's not the player that ends up playing for him. It's not the defense, it's not the offense, it's not the special teams, it's everybody. When you lose a player of that caliber, everybody has to pick up the slack in all facets—on the field, off the field and in the locker room. We have a good enough team to do that. If you're a good enough team, you can overcome these injuries. There are countless examples of that over the years—very recently and a very long time ago. Any time you want to look at, there's been these types of injuries that teams have overcome and still had successful seasons. We want to be added to that list."
On if he thinks Miller will need surgery
"Not definitely, but I think he will. He's in the process of having two to three other doctors look at it."
On when he would expect Miller's possible surgery to take place
"I think it would happen sooner rather than later. Within a week is soon."
On who he expects to start and fill the void at outside linebacker
"It'll be [OLBs] Jerry [Attaochu] and Malik [Reed]. They'll share it. That's what happened last year when [OLB] Bradley [Chubb] went out. It'll be those two guys primarily getting the share of snaps. Who ends up starting, who ends up playing in what packages will be fluid, but it'll be those two guys. I wouldn't say it'll be one guy."
On if Miller's injury changes Chubb's status for Week 1
"Absolutely not. I told him that today already."
On if he's concerned with team morale and his personal emotions when he learned about the severity of Miller's injury
"Just my own personal feelings—I was sad when it happened for a lot of reasons, mainly for Von. Von has had a hell of an offseason. I kind of reiterated that to you guys many times. I didn't see him in the offseason, but I talked to him a number of times in the offseason. When you don't see someone with your own eyes, you're hesitant to believe or buy in, but I could just tell by the way we were talking and the things he was doing, that he had the mindset that he was going to come out and have a hell of a season. When we finally did get back together, it was true. I'm sad that he's not going to be able to get the season that he worked for because it would have been fun to watch for me, for him, for you and for everybody. On a personal basis as it relates to Von, everybody is sad and disappointed for him. As it relates to our team, we're disappointed. Anytime you lose anybody, you're disappointed. But we will move on and we will make it work. We lost Bradley last year, an equal player at the same position, and we played our best football after that. That's not because we didn't have Bradley. We just kept developing as a team and we compensated for it. We have a better team this year overall, so I expect us to still be a good team without Von."
On if he has to do anything extra to get the team refocused and boost morale
"Well, I talked to them today in the team meeting about it. You have to acknowledge the loss and you have to acknowledge your sadness on a personal level, but we can go out and still play winning football. We talked about that today and we'll move forward [while] never forgetting Von and hoping that he returns at some point this year. The good thing about his injury is once it's healed, it's healed. It's not one of those where he'll have lingering effects."
On the impact DL Jurrell Casey has had in the locker room
"Jurrell has had a big impact since he's been here, especially since we've started camp where guys are together physically. With his experience, his knowledge and his production over the years, he's been a big help to the other defensive linemen and he's sort of mentored them along the way while throw his two cents in with things he's learned throughout the years and a pointer here and there. He's been very, very valuable in the defensive line group. Then that spreads to the other defensive groups, too. In that case, he's been very, very valuable."
On how he makes sure Chubb doesn't overextend himself in practice
"I'll be able to tell. We've talked about it enough. Plus, I'll watch the video of practice and we'll be able to tell. He'll tell. We've had good conversations about it ever since camp started. It's not something new that him and I are doing."
On his confidence level in Attaochu and Reed contributing right away
"I have confidence that they're going to be able to play to their ability. Neither one is Von Miller, but they are who they are. All we need is for them to do their job to the best of their ability. If they do that, we'll be fine."
On what he's learned from his first season as head coach and if he's comfortable on the sidelines
"This year has been so different with the COVID protocols and no offseason. I didn't feel like there was a lot of carryover from Year 1 to Year 2 because the schedules were so drastically different. I didn't feel the carry over that I think you're trying to allude to. As far as being on the sideline, I'm fine with that. I felt more comfortable as the season went on with that. I'm good down there. I don't feel that it's a problem."
QUARTERBACK DREW LOCK
On how the team has dealt with OLB Von Miller suffering a serious injury
"Without a doubt, it's a punch in the gut for everybody just knowing how good of a teammate he is and how good of a leader he is for this team. Personally, for him, I talked to him a lot in the offseason. He was gunning, he was ready to go. He was extremely excited. It was a new focus from Von. I think when you almost hit double-digits, it becomes real life for you, and he was excited. It hurts our team and our spirits with just how much we cared for the guy. Life goes on. He's going to work to get back on the field as fast as possible and we have to work to win games."
On what he is most anxious about as he enters his first regular-season opener as the starting quarterback
"Just the first snap, getting it going. I'm excited. It's going to be different. Regardless if it was Monday night or Sunday or the Thursday night game this week, I think the thing you're most anxious about is seeing how they come out and play you in the first game of the year. Are they going to do a lot of stuff they did last year or are they going to change it up? Who's playing what spot? They just picked [DE/OLB Jadeveon] Clowney up. Where are they going to play him? I think that's what we are most anxious for and we'll take it from there. I'm just excited to finally get out on the field and stop playing against [Head Coach] Vic [Fangio's] defense."
On his impressions of WR Tyrie Cleveland and what he can bring to the wide receiver room
"Big and very physical and smart. He's good with the ball in space. He's kind of what you look for. He's a big guy. Like I said, he's fast. When the ball gets delivered to him, you don't see very many drops from him. He's big and consistent. He played very well throughout camp. We were all extremely impressed with the way he played, and like you said, I think he played well enough to deserve that."
On how he avoids putting extra pressure on himself with Miller's injury
"I can't put an extra amount of pressure on myself. It really comes down to this whole team making one more play because Von isn't there to make that play. Whether that's me making a couple more plays or [WR] Courtland [Sutton] making a couple more plays, or [RBs] Melvin [Gordon] or Phil [Lindsay] or [TE] Noah [Fant]. It's just going to come down to us playing at that 'A' level but playing at an 'A+' level. You just have to take it one step further. Not that we wouldn't try to do that every single week with Von, but it makes it a little more evident because there might be a couple sacks that we'll miss out on in the season without him being out there. If that means the offense is going to be on the field against us a little longer, then we have to go put a drive together. There's going to be certain situations that pop up during the season when you don't have him that we have to be ready for. It's going to take every aspect of the game—offense, defense, special teams. Special teams can even pick up some of those plays as well. Yes, it does hurt. I'm more upset for him rather than feeling sorrow for our team and not having him. I'm more hurt for him because of how hard he was working to get out there and be the best Von he can be."
On what he's learned about leadership and locker room presence from Miller
"I think one of the coolest things he did for me when I first came in was just talk to me. We came in and I was obviously wide-eyed when I saw Von for the first time. You hear about old vets—leave them alone and let them come up to you. I think the first time I came in the locker room, he came right up to me and started talking to me. I feel like being the quarterback of the offense, you try to do that to the rookies when they come in. If Von wouldn't have done that to me, I would have thought maybe you let the rookies work their way in and then you talk to them. When Von came up to me that first day right off the bat, it kind of set the tone for me going into this year on how to treat the rookies coming in this year. The more they can feel comfortable, the better they will go out and play. If that means me going out and having conversations with them before practice in the locker room or in the cafeteria, then that's what it has to be to help them feel comfortable and welcome them to this team."
On if he thought football would be played this season and what he's most excited about
"I think we were all pretty unsure about what was going to officially take place once we got here. After having about two weeks of testing and nothing really happening—not only for us, but around the league. I was like, 'Alright, this can actually work.' It's going to be different when we travel and staying responsible and staying locked into what we're here to do and that's play football. The most exciting part about going into this year is just being able to make those memories with the guys going into these games. I'm excited to finally compete against someone other than guys in orange and blue. Finally, being able to go out there, make the plays when they're there, scramble around a little but, deliver the ball and watch guys make plays. Just being able to finally have a little bit of competitive spirit against someone other than the Broncos is going to be awesome."
On if he's motivated by Pro Football Focus ranking him as the league's worst quarterback and his response to Texans QB DeShaun Watson signing a contract extension
"Well the first one, I wouldn't have know about it unless you brought it up (laughs). I try to stay out of the situations that don't involve anything that's in this locker room, coached and with this team. I'm not sure who wrote it, but their opinion is their opinion, and quite honestly, it's not going to affect me going out to practice and playing this weekend. I'm going to leave it at that. Second off, quarterback money keeps going up, but thinking about money down the road isn't going to help me on Monday win this game and better yet this season. I have to earn that type of money first and just winning four out of my five games in my rookie season won't do that. I have to go out there and keep playing and be great for this team."
On where he's grown since his first start against the L.A. Chargers last season
"I think it comes to preparation before a game and even practice. You try to treat all these practices like a game. Because of COVID, we didn't have very many practices. I would think preparation. Having those five games last year and knowing what it's going to take for me to go in and play my best game. That first game was kind of a crap shoot on how I wanted to prep and how I wanted to be ready. What it took to truly be ready mentally and physically to where I got to that fifth game. I have the repetition down now and I didn't forget it going into this first game. I'll try to keep that rolling and be the most ready I can be. I feel like having those reps last year really helped me this year going into this first game."
On the team's confidence in the depth at outside linebacker
"[OLBs] Jerry [Attaochu] and Malik [Reed] are going to do great for us. We're excited for them. I know they're going to answer the bell and come out there and be ready as if their life depended on it. They've got to come out and they've got to play. They've got to ball, and they've got to be ready. I know we're going to have their back as team, as a defense and as an offense and as a special teams guy. In the end, we're all really upset that Von is in the situation that he's in. Again, for him and not necessarily sorry for us. We're going to have to go out there and make plays and go get it."
DEFENSIVE LINEMAN JURRELL CASEY
On if he feels ready like usual for this season
"Definitely, I know at the beginning of everything and trying to get rolling it definitely was a little different. We had the acclimation period, trying to get you body back and get it in good shape, knock off the dust and the rust and turning your body into prime shape for the season. It definitely was a slow start to that, but I think the last two weeks definitely have been a good dose of reps and a good dose of preparing for this next week coming up. It's definitely been a good transition over here. It's definitely been good. The players over here are good to be around. They all work. They're all pushing me to keep on going especially at this old age."
On how he thinks his leadership has developed with this team and how last week's meeting to address social justice can galvanize the team
"I just continue to do what I've been doing over the last couple of years. If the leadership part of it rubbing off on then and they're looking at me that way, I definitely accept that, but I'm just here to show these guys I'm here to work and be part of this team and hope that they're all taking my experience and can learn from it—the things that I'm trying to get out there and talk to these guys about, teaching them types of things, showing them different ways to keep their body fresh to improve on their crafts—just keep on trying to build those things. To speak on last week with the meeting, definitely—continue to have those type of talks, continue to have those type of meetings—we're just going to continue to push to make change. That's what we're here for, to use our platform to make sure that we're preforming at a high level and also making sure that we're taking care of things off the field, making sure our community is uplifted also."
On if he would wear a decal with a social justice message on his helmet and the NFL having social justice messaging on the field
"I think it's huge. We support all kinds of causes in the NFL. We do the salute [to service] week. We do the breast cancer week. We do a raise awareness week. It's something that we already do in the NFL which is great. They allow us to voice our opinions, voice our feelings out there. This extra step now this year with us being able to wear decals, it's just another step in the right direction to make sure we influence change inside this world."
On his feelings and emotions going against Tennessee
"Emotions are high at the end of the day, but at the end of the day what happened in Tennessee is in the past. I'm ready to get going with the Broncos and go on a run for this championship season. The first game is going to be hype. You're going to see me out there making a ton of plays. That's day-to-day. It's going to be a little bit more juice coming this game."
On what sticks out to him about this defense that makes him think it can be elite
"The biggest thing is everybody across the board. Every player comes in and communicates. Every guy's flying around to the ball. Every guy's making plays. When you can see that out of a team in cahoots inside a camp, that's a great sign. It's definitely made a great camp. Everybody up front's been holding stout. Rotations have been beautiful. I think guys, no matter who comes in and who goes out, are making plays. When you can have a defense like that, it's definitely going to take your team further than you usually expect."
On what makes Titans RB Derrick Henry such an effective back
"It's when he get's rolling. Once those wheels get trucking there's no stopping this guy. The biggest thing's going to be up upfront building a wall. Don't let him have any holes to be able to just go downhill hitting them. As long as we can keep him moving sideways, running sideline to sideline we'll be in great shape."
On what has stood out to him with his new surroundings in Denver
"I think the only thing I can say is it's a little difficult now with the COVID and everything because you can't get to know all the players equally. I think with so much being separated, guys wearing masks all the time, it's definitely hard to get used to meeting people. Just coming in, the guys are warm-hearted. The guys definitely welcomed me. Being in Tennessee, you build a reputation where guys come in, they respect you and all that, but being able to come to a new organization and guys really don't know too much about you, to be able to welcome you in with open arms is definitely beautiful. I've been in locker rooms where guys are standoffish. I never understood it. It kind of was weird, vets thinking they're a little bit better than rookies and all that. My expectation has always been when a rookie comes in or a guy from another team comes in, welcome him. Make him feel like he's at home. That's something that the Broncos definitely have been doing so far."