Sure, the Denver Broncos are looking forward to some time off.
However, two players will be spending as much if not more time thinking about the week 10 game than Peyton Manning during the bye. Those two players are Shaun Phillips and Louis Vasquez, who spent the first nine and four years, respectively with the San Diego Chargers before coming to Denver.
Phillips haunted and taunted every Broncos quarterback from Jake Plummer to Jay Cutler, Kyle Orton to Tim Tebow, and finally last year, Peyton Manning.
After the break, Phillips will finally get to hit the guy he’s been waiting longest to put some stains on — Philip Rivers. It’s similar to how Robert Mathis felt when he lined up against Manning in week seven. New (yet old) quarterbacks to touch that were forbidden before.
“I mean that’s one of the ones that’s been circled on my calendar,” Phillips said. “There are no hard feelings for me in San Diego but it’s my new [team] and everyone always want to play good against their old team. So I’m pretty sure that I’ll be a little fired up.”
Through eight games, Phillips has 6.5 sacks, a forced fumble, an interception, and 17 tackles. He’s on pace for more sacks than he’s ever had before (11.5 career high in ’06). You have to think that he’s going to set a new career-high with Von Miller back now.
Phillips has stepped in nicely to fill Elvis Dumervil’s spot on the sack chart. Phillips is even on pace to beat Dumervil’s 2012 sack total, which was 11.0.
Also filling in nicely on this roster is Vasquez, who has played right guard for the bulk of the season, but is flexible and experienced enough that he could play right tackle when Orlando Franklin went down with an ankle/knee injury.
“He’s performed at a very high level—I would say at even a Pro Bowl-level halfway through the season,” John Fox said after Wednesday’s practice. “He’s a big, physical guy. He’s athletic.”
Not only that, but he’s incredibly strong, too. Wes Welker can attest to that.
“Once he gets his hands on you—there was one time, he held a football like this [with one hand] and said, ‘Try and pull it away from my hand.’ I had both hands, I couldn’t pull it away. So he’s a strong, strong guy and once he gets his hands on you, you’re pretty much done.”
Vasquez gets the job done and he won’t hurt the team either. He was just one of three 16-game starting offensive guards in 2012 to not be called for a penalty.
In two week, we can clearly thank the San Diego Chargers for giving up Phillips and Vasquez. For as much as they’ve disrupted the Broncos in the past, they’ve contributed big time this season, and they’re closer to a Super Bowl berth than ever before.