LONDON — Only hours after touching down in London, two Denver Broncos were already getting their first taste of British culture at one of England's most famous cricket venues.
The Broncos arrived Friday for their regular-season NFL game against the San Francisco 49ers at Wembley Stadium on Sunday. Their opening practice was at The Oval, a well-known cricket ground south of the River Thames.
But before getting down to business on the football field, offensive lineman Chris Kuper and tight end Daniel Graham each took swings with a cricket bat, hitting the ball around the gridiron-lined stadium.
"It was cool," said Kuper, who traded gifts and stories with a pair of Surrey County cricketers.
Tom Lancefield, a Surrey batsman, seemed particularly impressed with Kuper's position on the offensive line, where he's constantly butting heads against other behemoths on the other side of the ball.
"So basically (you) just smash into other people," Lancefield said to Kuper, who was about twice the size of the Englishman. "I love it."
The foray into cricket was short-lived, however, because the Broncos (2-5) came to London with a job to do, notably trying to get their season back on track in the NFL's fourth regular-season game at Wembley.
"Everything's kind of going ahead as planned," said Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, who decided to bring his team over to Britain four days after the Niners arrived. "We chose to have three good practice days back at our facility, somewhat of a normal preparation for our players, and then go ahead and make the trip in what we believe will still be enough time to get out bodies adjusted."
Both the Niners (1-6) and Broncos are coming off losses last weekend. Denver, however, got blown out by the Oakland Raiders 59-14. At home.
"It was an embarrassing loss. It was an embarrassing performance for us," Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton said. "We're excited to get back on the field. It's been a long week.
"Whenever you go out and play like that, you want to get right back on the field and make corrections and we're excited to do that."
Kuper, one of the team's captains, said he and the other veterans have been trying to help the younger players deal with the lopsided loss.
"We tried to stress to everyone that adversity happens," Kuper said. "We obviously didn't think that would happen to us. We thought we'd battle it out."
The Broncos and the 49ers have byes after Sunday's game, giving them a week to recover from their European trip before they play again stateside.
A victory for either team would certainly make that week go much smoother.
"We need to get a win," Broncos safety Brian Dawkins said. "That's the main thing."
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