Here are excerpts of Broncos coach John Fox during his conference call with the Atlanta media on Thursday. Questions were asked from several different media outlets, including the AJC, in preparation for Monday night’s game against the Falcons.
Q. You saw Matt Ryan quite a bit in his early years and now you have Peyton Manning. Do you see any similarities between the two? Any differences?
A. I saw Matt even as a rookie he stepped right in and played at a high level. I have the upmost respect for him. You earn that respect by what you see on tape. He had a great outing against an opponent we are very familiar with in Kansas City. He’s got a very good supporting cast that can both run and throw it. It will be a huge test for us, that’s for sure.
Q. Did Peyton Manning do anything or show you anything that you did not expect or that surprised you?
A. He has a reputation in this league about how hard he prepares mentally and physically. He came in the league that way. He is still that way. When you see it first-hand I think it’s a little bit different. It probably exceeds your expectations just on his reputation. He has been tremendous. Any player who comes off injury is tough and I have a lot of respect for him. It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of time and he definitely did all those things.
Q. How privy were you to Manning’s condition [coming off neck surgeries] and what were his abilities when you first saw him?
A. We didn’t see him until much later. When we were preparing to open the season last year, he was in a hospital room. That puts things in perspective. I didn’t see him until we worked him out at Duke. He was well on his way by then.
Q. You saw Matt Ryan up close and personal a couple of times a year. The guy you just saw on video coming out of the Kansas City game, were there any discernible differences?
A. I think he’s improved. They’ve made some changes around him to give him more weapons. Julio Jones, from what I’ve seen, that’s a good addition. They create a lot of problems. They know how to run the ball and they run it efficiently. They put three wideouts out there with Harry Douglas too. Plus Tony [Gonzalez] is a first ballot Hall of Famer. They present problems.
Q. You and Falcons coach Mike Smith were known for your power run games during your time in the NFC South. How much different is it when you are game planning for this Falcons team?
A. They utilize the no-huddle even when I was back there. That is what makes them such a good offense, the ability to get big and pound you and get small and stretch you that way. That is what good offenses are capable of and that is definitely one of them.
Q. How has the Falcons defense changed since you left the NFC South?
A. They went out and signed Asante Samuel. He’s a good player. Dunta Robinson is new since I was there. Again, coaches play a big part of this is a players’ game. It helps to have good players and they do.
Q. How much have you taken your offense and adapted it to Manning?
A. Whether it’s last year or this year, regardless of the position, part of coaching is putting men in the best position to succeed. You look and study what they do well and you put them in those positions.
Q. How has the relationship between Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas evolved?
A. Peyton is a great teammate. So is Demaryius. We have great team chemistry. Their relationship is excellent.
Q. After what you went through in Carolina two years ago, how exciting was it for you personally to have the success you did?
A. Like anything, you don’t survive in this business if you doubt yourself. Obviously that was a very hard season, a very tough season, for everyone involved. Life is about what you do when you get knocked down. Life has moved on. It’s a different chapter of the book. We are just taking it one day at a time.
Q. What kind of role does Keith Brooking have with your team?
A. He is a guy who we acquired a little bit later in camp. He came in early on, tweaked his hamstring and missed some time. I have tremendous respect for him having competed against him with y’all and Dallas. I spent some time with him at the ’05 Pro Bowl. He brings something to our locker room and on the football field. He as active last week and played some snaps. Look for his role to increase as we move forward.
Q. What do see of Michael Turner? Does he have the same quickness, the same explosiveness?
A. Sure he does. He’s a big bruising back. When he gets rolling, he’s tough. I’ve seen it up close and personal. It’s a huge weapon for their offense.
Q. Are you blown away that there are teams that still don’t run the no-huddle?
A. It’s a huge weapon. If it’s good enough for the last two minutes of a half or a game, it’s a nice little wrinkle to throw in there. I’m sure as you evaluate it as a coach, whatever your situation may be, at the end of the day you are trying to do what gives you the best chance to win. If you think the no-huddle is a positive, you do it.
Q. Do you wish you had [Tracy] Porter and [Champ] Baily as a [cornerback] tandem for most of your career?
A. I’ve been blessed to have some great players throughout the years. There is no doubt. I wouldn’t want to slight anybody. We are getting to know Tracy a little bit as we go. I’ve had Champ for a full year and competed against him for many years. They are definitely good players and I have great respect for both of them.
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