Then, as the storyline changed, they began game-planning as if Brown would be in the starting lineup for the Raiders on Monday Night Football.
Now, following Brown’s stunning release from Oakland, they are … well, pretty unmoved by the development.
“It’s just as if he was on the inactive list or suspended list or was hurt,” Broncos coach Vic Fangio said Saturday, ahead of the teams’ Week 1 matchup, per The Denver Post. “We just have to go out and play their team. They have a good team. They’ve made a lot of revisions to their team. It’s going to be a helluva test for us.”
Brown’s departure is a break for the Broncos and a loss for football fans, as it’s must-see TV watching the seven-time Pro Bowler face off against All-Pro-caliber cornerback Chris Harris Jr., such as they did last season, when Brown was limited to 67 yards on nine catches in a 24-17 upset loss to Denver.
“It’s a great matchup,” Harris said earlier this week. “It’s one of the best versus the best that’s been doing it for a long time. I think he’s a year above me and I’m right behind me, so we’ve been playing at a high level for a while.”
Without Brown, the Raiders’ passing game, led by quasi-franchise-quarterback Derek Carr, is reduced to tight end Darren Waller and receivers Hunter Renfrow and Keelan Doss.
And the Raiders’ chances of victory were reduced, too, according to Vegas. The Broncos were originally installed as road underdogs, but OddsShark.com now lists Oakland as two-point home dogs.
“Oh yeah, I was surprised because usually the best players on the field. But AB wasn’t going to play without guaranteed (money in his contract, which was voided after he accumulated fines),” Harris told Denver7’s Troy Renck on Saturday. “I think it’s unfortunate that they couldn’t get it right whatever was going on over there. I have been preparing for the confrontation all offseason. I wish everybody would have gotten to see it.”
Broncos Among Favorites to Sign Brown
Speaking of Odds Shark, the popular betting service grouped Denver among the projected frontrunners to land Brown, who immediately became a free agent upon his release, free to sign with any team willing to take him on.
The Broncos were given the sixth-best odds (+1000) to acquire Brown. The Patriots (+200) are considered the favorites, followed by the Redskins (+300), Cowboys (+600), Bills (+700) and Texans (+1000). The 49ers (+1000), Cardinals (+1000) and Buccaneers (+1000) round out the list.
Derek Wolfe Rips ‘Dirty, Grimy’ Raiders [WATCH]
Veteran Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe is already in midseason form tweaking the AFC West foe Raiders, who he’ll see in the Black Hole, much to his chagrin. As he makes perfectly clear, Monday Night Football brings about a rivalry as old as the NFL itself.
“It’s just the Raiders, man. They’re just dirty, grimy Raiders,” Wolfe told reporters following Wednesday’s practice. “They’re just the Raiders; you just don’t like them. You want to beat them. They’re a team you want to play well against. It’s always a good game against us, no matter what the record is. We always have a good game against each other.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL