CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Not long into Super Bowl 50, decorum vanished. The Broncos and Panthers yelled at each other. A facemask or two was pulled (Looking at you, Mr. Talib). Flags were thrown. The Broncos back down from no one. In transitioning from a finesse team to brass-knuckle brawlers, they crossed the line at times. They also established an identity between the lines.
They man up in coverage (with a little matchup zone sprinkled in for good measure), get in your face and hit you in the mouth.
So it should come as no surprise how Broncos safety T.J. Ward responded when I asked him if he expected the Panthers receivers to get chippy on Thursday.
"We are the antagonizers. We don't worry about what other people try to do. It's our house. We run the show," Ward said. "Whatever we decide to do, that's what's going to happen."
Opening up at home brings an advantage historically. The Broncos are 15-1 in their last 16 home openers. And the crowd, which figures to be at full throat from kickoff, can help. It was so loud during the AFC Championship Game, the New England Patriots' offensive line struggled to hear the cadence. The Broncos plan to feed off the sound and energy.
"When we are moving around and disguising stuff it's hard for the offense to communicate with themselves," Ward said. "It can definitely help us. ... We have the most fun when we are being ourselves. And that's what coach (Gary Kubiak) lets us do. He lets us go on game day."
Though his role might be limited, Jeff Heuerman gave himself a chance to suit on Thursday by practicing on Tuesday. The tight end was limited in the preseason because of a hamstring injury. John Phillips figures to get the reps in the second role behind Virgil Green.
Spotrac on Sanders
The Broncos have been actively trying to secure receiver Emmanuel Sanders on a contract extension. The sides appeared close last week before the Rams' Tavon Austin, an inferior player statistically to Sanders, received a four-year, $42-million deal with $25 million guaranteed. Spotrac.com projected Sanders' value at four-year, $46.5 million. Sanders told Denver7 earlier this week he was not prepared to take less than Austin. The Broncos value Sanders' production and toughness, and would like to get a deal done.
If it feels like the Super Bowl rematch never happens in the season opener, it's because it doesn't. This is the first time the combatants have met in the first week since Kansas City played Minnesota in 1970. Carolina coach Ron Rivera admitted he's not happy his team, as the NFC champion, has to begin the season on the road. ... Bovada posted some player odds that might interest Broncos fans: Trevor Siemian average passing yards per start (over/under 220). And Houston's Brock Osweiler touchdown passes and interceptions (22.5; 13.5).