CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- The Broncos remain more of a juxtaposition than a defending champion.
They won Super Bowl 50. Yet, their noses are still wet. They are the mutts. The underdogs. With uncertainty at quarterback -- former seventh-round pick Trevor Siemian makes his first start Thursday -- the Broncos open the season as a consensus 3-point underdog to the Carolina Panthers. This is the same Panthers team the Broncos mauled 24-10 in February. That was at a neutral site. The rematch will be held at Sports Authority (For Now) Field, where the Broncos were 8-2 last season, counting the playoffs.
The Panthers have plenty of motivation. In fact, Carolina should have a chip on its shoulder. Broncos safety T.J. Ward, trying to be polite, could not care less.
"We have to be prepared for them. It’s not going to be the same game as the Super Bowl. It will probably be completely different. That’s the beauty of football," Ware said. "It doesn’t matter to us. You can have a Dorito on your shoulder for all we care. You still have to come in here and beat us."
The Broncos have grown tired of being overlooked. But it serves a purpose. They can wear Super Bowl rings and remain under the radar.
"No, we'll probably be underdogs Week 2 and so on," running back C.J. Anderson said. "We're fine with it."
Siemian IQ? A-OK
Broncos coach Gary Kubiak was direct Sunday in his praise of starter Trevor Siemian. The kid has an intel processor for a brain.
"He can carry a lot of information in a short period of time. Let me explain: he can go into that meeting room for two hours in the morning, walk out of here at 11:30 and take it to the field," Kubiak said. "You can't teach that. We need to help Trevor all we can. But I know Trevor is ready to do his part and we're behind him 100 percent."
Anderson was blunt in his support of Siemian: "Ride or die. I am going to war with him. '13' knows that I've got his back."
Known as 'Cool Hand Luke' in college, Siemian admitted he has a "pulse." There will be some butterflies on Thursday. He continues to keep the week as normal as possible. His phone continues buzzing, and he admitted it's time to return some texts from his mom.
Wide receiver Cody Latimer said his left knee feels fine, and he's prepared to play a full role on Thursday, including kick returner. "I am ready to go," Latimer said.
... Bennie Fowler remains hopeful he can play against Carolina, but his status remains up in the air because of the broken bone in his elbow.
... Carolina receiver Philly Brown, when told by Panthers reporters that Peyton Manning is expected to be at Thursday's game, "To hand the ball off?" ...
Panthers coach Ron Rivera revealed that he studied how the Broncos rebounded from their Super Bowl loss to the Seahawks in hopes of avoiding a hangover from the big game. ...
The Broncos were working on finalizing their practice squad with the additions of Kyle Kragen and return man Kalif Raymond. The squad sits at eight, leaving two open spots.