- Jeff Legwold, ESPN Staff Writer
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And he, like everyone else who looked in on the New York Giants' loss to the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday night, saw Giants quarterback Eli Manning finish with 450 yards passing and four touchdowns as three Giants receivers (Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle) topped 100 yards.
“But I think they’re going to do what we’ve seen them do last year and last week, they’re going to pound the ball down the field,’’ Woodyard said. “Because that’s what they like to do.’’
Woodyard, who was moved into the middle-linebacker spot during training camp, is a big part of the team’s run defense, and was held out of Wednesday’s practice because of a sprained right ankle he suffered against the Ravens. Woodyard re-entered the game against Baltimore after getting the ankle re-taped, but has not yet practiced this week.
However, he said Wednesday he was confident he would be “good to go,’’ for Sunday's game and “full swing’’ for Thursday’s practice. Meantime, the Broncos have leaned on veteran Paris Lenon as Woodyard’s backup despite the fact Lenon hasn't even been with the team for a month. Lenon replaced Woodyard against the Ravens -- playing eight snaps on defense -- and worked with the starters in Wednesday’s practice as well.
Lenon might have been unsigned when the Broncos called last month, but he has been the savvy veteran Denver hoped he was when the team worked him out and signed him Aug. 20. The 35-year-old arrived in peak physical condition and did his homework quickly enough that the Broncos have used him in the starting defense.
“He’s a high-football-character guy, has good football intelligence,’’ said Broncos coach John Fox. “Our coaches are working very hard, overtime, with him and he’s been very receptive.’’
Drops or no drops, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning said he’s still ready to throw the ball to Eric Decker in any situation. “Eric is one of our hardest workers, Eric has a lot of pride as well,’’ Manning said. “He said publicly he was not happy with the way he played on Thursday -- he gave great effort, but sometimes those games happen. You will see me throwing the ball at Eric as many times this Sunday as I did Thursday. He’s a huge part of our offense and we have great confidence in him.’’ Decker -- who had a team-high 11 drops last season -- took to Twitter following the season-opening victory over the Ravens, in which he dropped what would have been a certain touchdown, plus another pass that would have been a third-down conversion. He tweeted, "Much love to Broncos Country for reppin big last night! Big win! Def disappointed in my performance, unacceptable! Watch, learn, flush.'' Wednesday, Decker said the game was “embarrassing.’’ “I think in the moment it’s kind of, ‘Oh crap, why did that happen?’, and then you’ve got to flush it quickly,’’ Decker said. “You’ve got to be zoned in and focused for every play because there are a lot of things that go on. It’s learning and maturing, to learn how to flush that and move on.’’
The Broncos’ rotation at running back, with Knowshon Moreno playing the majority of snaps in the three-wide-receiver set because of his reliability in pass protection, accounted for just 2.8 yards per carry against the Ravens. The Broncos didn’t consistently win at the line of scrimmage, with 10 carries for two yards or less, including four for one-yard and two for negative yardage. Fox was asked Wednesday if he was concerned. “I think the key is after one week, I don’t think our body of work is quite up to what it’s going to be yet,’’ Fox said. Moreno figures to get plenty of snaps again, given the Giants’ ability to rush out of a four-man front.
Fox, who was sporting an NYPD hat for practice in recognition of 9/11, was in his fifth and final season as the Giants’ defensive coordinator on Sept. 11, 2001. “It’s probably one of my more vivid adult memories so far in my 58 years on Earth,’’ Fox said. “It’s something I’ll never forget.’’
The trip to New Jersey will be one of three this season that will see the Broncos leaving on a Friday. Fox will often take the team into a road city that day ahead of an afternoon game in the Eastern time zone or a noon start in the Central.
Broncos tight end Julius Thomas on how he thinks teams will defend him after two touchdowns in the season opener: “I’m anxious to find out. They didn’t send us over their plans, so we don’t really know.’’