- Associated Press - Monday, August 18, 2014

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - The Denver Broncos look like they’re ready to start the season.

They had an impressive preseason debut against the Seattle Seahawks, the team that throttled them in the Super Bowl, and they christened San Francisco’s new stadium with a 34-0 shutout of the 49ers Sunday.

Denver’s starting offense is in midseason form with three scores in four possessions with Peyton Manning completing 22 of 27 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown.

And they haven’t even shown the offense they’ll unveil against Indianapolis on Sept. 7, when starting running back Montee Ball returns from an appendectomy that’s sidelining him the entire preseason.

Denver’s front-line defense has been just as impressive, allowing one TD on four drives while DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward and Aqib Talib have shown exactly why GM John Elway committed $109.5 million to bring the trio to town.

Pass-rusher Von Miller and versatile cornerback Chris Harris Jr. haven’t suited up yet, either.

Coach John Fox cringed at the thought, however, that the Broncos look ready to start the season, one in which they’ll try to become the first team in 40 years to win a Super Bowl the year after losing it.

“No, we still have a lot of work to do,” Fox said.

OK, then, certainly Manning looks ready.

“Again, we’re getting readier,” Fox said. “I’m not saying we’re not ready, but we still have two more preseason games.”

With Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt and the rest of the Houston Texans in town for joint practices this week, Denver’s starters might be in for another cameo next weekend instead of playing into the third quarter as is the norm for the third preseason game.

“This week will be a good week, we’re going to practice against Houston for three days and I think depending on how the practices go, that could maybe alter the playing time situation,” Manning said. “I think we’ll get a lot of game-like scenarios this week going against a good test, especially going against their defense.”

About the only knock on the Broncos so far was Manning’s ill-advised run on second-and-8 from the San Francisco 9 in which he gained 1 yard before Aldon Smith smothered him.

It was a designed draw for Manning, who gained zero yards on the ground last year, when he threw for a record 5,447 yards and 55 touchdowns.

“Yeah, it’s a tendency breaker,” Manning said. “You try to catch them off guard. It’s probably not really high on their alert game plan sheet, ‘Watch for the quarterback run.’ I thought I was going to score but I got one yard. Kind of humbling.”

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