Opening the season as the starter has second-year quarterback Jay Cutler a bundle of nerves.
"I'm excited, I'm nervous, I'm anxious," he said Wednesday. "There's a lot of things going through my mind. Right now we're trying to get our game plan and figuring that out."
Cutler seemed like he'd rather be anywhere else than on the podium in the media room at Broncos headquarters.
"We just got off from the walkthrough, so my mind is on different things," he said when told he didn't seem very excited.
Cutler replaced Jake Plummer with five games left last season and would have led Denver into the playoffs were it not for an overtime loss to San Francisco in the finale. He became the first quarterback to throw for two or more touchdowns in his first four games.
He's had a full offseason of work as the starter.
"I just feel more confident in what I'm doing. I have a better command of the offense and a better understanding of what we're trying to get done on the field," he said.
"People are going to expect more out of me. Last year, I could kind of be the rookie and make mistakes. But this year they're going to expect me to go out and perform."
Cutler has a better supporting cast, too, with the free agent additions of tight end Daniel Graham, tailback Travis Henry and slot receiver Brandon Stokley. The return of Matt Lepsis from a knee injury should solidify the line, although Ben Hamilton (concussion) is sidelined.
"With Travis, we're going to run the ball," Cutler said. "We're going to play Broncos football."
With Lepsis out last year, Tatum Bell and Mike Bell never really got going out of the backfield and that negated Plummer's play-action fakes.
This year, the Broncos finally have the workhorse running back that coach Mike Shanahan employed during his most successful years in Denver.
"We're going to run the ball first," Cutler said. "That's what we've always done in the past. We're going to try to get Travis going and if it opens up, it opens up."
Cutler is glad he got his feet wet last year.
"Those five games helped me out tremendously," he said. "Just being able to go back and look at the film over the offseason and figure out what I was doing right and what I was doing wrong. I feel more confident, but I'm still inexperienced. I just have to go out there and make good decisions."
NO GRUDGES: Travis Henry said he no longer carries a grudge against the Bills, who drafted Willis McGahee in 2003 just months after Henry became the first Buffalo running back to make the Pro Bowl since Thurman Thomas a decade earlier.
Buffalo wasn't big enough for the two of them and eventually Henry went to Tennessee.
"What has been done has been done and you've got to go on with your career," Henry said Wednesday.
On Sunday, Henry will make his second visit to Buffalo since his departure from the Bills. Last Dec. 24, he went there with the Titans and said he was too pumped up, still angry about how he was treated.
It will be a much mellower tailback who returns this time, Henry said.
"It was a learning experience for me. I got a chance to understand the business side of it," Henry said of his time in Buffalo.
QUIET MARSHALL: Javon Walker said the NFL world doesn't yet know how good Brandon Marshall is, but the second-year pro who has risen to starting split end didn't want to toot his own horn.
"I don't want to brag on myself, but I think with me starting this year and getting a lot more snaps, I have a lot more opportunities to make bigger and a lot more plays," he said.
SIMEON'S ARRIVAL: The addition of 12-year veteran Simeon Rice will have a trickle-down effect on the Broncos' line, certainly cutting into the playing time of several young players.
Elvis Dumervil said Rice's arrival won't change his approach. First-round draft pick Jarvis Moss, who starred at the University of Florida, said he's admired Rice ever since Rice joined the Buccaneers from Arizona in 2001, and fellow rookie defensive end Tim Crowder said he's always revered Rice.
"He's one of the best. I can't help but learn something from him. He's one guy that I looked up to. Probably THE guy I looked to as my career developed," Crowder said.
EXTRA POINTS: TE Stephen Alexander (calf) was limited in practice Wednesday while T Adam Meadows (calf) participated in the full workout. DT Sam Adams (team decision) and CB Karl Paymah (concussion) sat out as did T Ryan Harris, who is continuing to recover from a back operation last month.