TAMPA — When the football is snapped and DT Chris Hovan thunders toward the ball, only an offensive lineman's brute strength can slow him.
The Broncos will attempt to prove there are other ways. They almost certainly will utilize their infamous low-blocking techniques against the Bucs Sunday at Invesco Field.
The Broncos made the zone-blocking scheme famous, and one of their most effective tactics is the cut block that exposes defensive linemen to knee injuries.
"These guys try to cut you on the back side," Hovan said. "They're notorious for the cut and roll. They're trying to cut us off on the backside because we like to get to the ball. They're trying to eliminate pursuit. If we do get chopped, you have got to get off the ground like it's a hot stove and get to the ball."
Low blocks are legal so long as the defender is not engaged with another blocker. Otherwise, it's a 15-yard penalty. The Broncos' are legal — barely.
"They do it within the rules," Hovan said. "Everything's borderline in this league. Let's not kid ourselves."
The Bucs have been paying particular attention to the low blocks on film, but there's a danger in being preoccupied with them, DE Gaines Adams said.
"You can't go into the game worrying if they're going to cut you," he said, noting doing so will detract from him playing his game.
With zone blocks, the Broncos aim to move defenders laterally, or otherwise, out of their designated gaps. That opens holes for the running backs and is a major reason the Broncos, despite using several backs, have been among the top 10 rushing teams in the league in 12 of the past 13 seasons.
THE HIGH ROAD: Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, whose son Lane was fired as coach by the Raiders on Tuesday, opted not to respond to remarks made by owner Al Davis about father and son.
Davis said, among other things, the elder Kiffin expressed interest in joining the Raiders before he agreed to a contract extension with the Bucs in January.
"There was a lot said (Tuesday)," Monte Kiffin said. "You're concerned about your son. But I'd rather talk about (Broncos QB) Jay Cutler."
INJURY UPDATE: FB B.J. Askew, who sat out Sunday, could be out awhile with what appears to be a serious hamstring injury. Byron Storer is expected to start. WR Joey Galloway (foot) did not practice Wednesday. G Davin Joseph (foot), out since August, participated on a limited basis. But coach Jon Gruden said, "His status is up in the air."
WEEKLY AWARDS: K Matt Bryant and LB Derrick Brooks were named the league's special teams and defensive player of the week, respectively.
Stephen F. Holder can be reached at email@example.com.