Sports

Broncos Rookies Expected to Step Up vs. Raiders

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38 years.

That’s how long it’s been since the Denver Broncos started three rookies on opening day, reports CBS Sports. Yet that’s exactly what the Broncos are planning on doing Monday night when they host the Oakland Raiders.

Linebacker Von Miller, safety Rahim Moore, and offensive tackle Orlando Franklin will all get a quick education on the Raiders-Broncos rivalry as they suit up to start the game on Monday Night Football. If the Broncos open in a two tight end set, rookie Julius Thomas would start as well, making it a quartet.

It’s the first trio of opening day rookie starters the Broncos have boasted since 1973. The result then? A 28-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

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Can the 2011 Broncos repeat history relying on such youth? Inexperience is one thing, but head coach John Fox said he isn’t worried about rookie nerves getting in the way.

“It’s not going to be their absolute first time under the lights,” Fox said. “[We've] had four night games in the preseason [and] hopefully they’ll learn from that experience.”

“I kind of worked out some of my nerves in my first professional game in the preseason,” top Broncos pick Von Miller said. “It’s been three games from then and I’m just taking it one day at a time and hopefully we can pull it out on Monday.”

It’ll be a tall task.The Raiders dominated the Broncos in 2010 but, thanks to additions like Miller and Moore, are expecting a “totally different defense” on opening night.

Visions of 1973

The start of three rookies isn’t the only significant tie between Monday night’s game and the Broncos’ 1973 season. The Broncos had another historic first that year — their first Monday Night Football game, ever.

Their opponent? The Oakland Raiders. The result? A 23-23 tie.

Put that in context. The Broncos had never managed a winning season, and the Raiders were an AFL powerhouse. Broncos VP of Public Relations Jim Saccomano called it “one of (the) most significant games in Broncos and Denver history.”

On Monday night, the Broncos hope to start their second John Elway era in similar fashion. They’ll look to extend their NFL-best 11-year win streak on opening week.

A 1-0 record would put them on track to match one other landmark the franchise reached in 1973 — a winning season. It was the first in Broncos history.