Darrell Reid went in pursuit of pointers on how to pick off passes.

With the Denver Broncos switching to a 3-4 front this season, the 270-pound defensive end had to be able to read and react as he dropped back into coverage.

So he sought out Champ Bailey for advice, working with the perennial Pro Bowl cornerback each practice to glean helpful hints.

Bailey taught him well.

Reid deftly intercepted a pass from Kurt Warner in the Broncos' 19-0 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night.

Just like that, the Broncos had their first takeaway of the preseason. Then the floodgates opened as Denver intercepted two more passes and recovered a fumble.

A turnover-starved defense now has some momentum heading into the season opener on Sept. 13 at Cincinnati.

"That's definitely what we can look like," Reid said.

It's funny, though, how the first interception came not from a seasoned secondary corps that includes Bailey, but a roaming defensive end who just happened to wander between Warner and his intended target.

No matter, the Broncos will take it.

"He got his chance and made his play," cornerback Andre' Goodman said of Reid. "We needed that as a whole."

Maybe that's a sign Mike Nolan's revamped defense is starting to round into shape?

"We've done some good things," Bailey said. "We made some plays (Thursday) for a change, which was good. We've got a lot of growing to do in this defense. We're not going to be perfect, but we're going to put up a fight."

That's more than the team could say in seasons past.

For the last two years, the Broncos had virtually no pass rush, couldn't contain the run and struggled to force turnovers. The dismal defense ultimately played a part in the firing of Mike Shanahan and the hiring of rookie coach Josh McDaniels, who made Nolan one of his first hires.

And while there have been growing pains, the system is starting to take root.

"We felt better and better about our defense as training camp has moved on and the preseason has gone along," McDaniels said. "We are not where we want to be anywhere, but they are getting better."

Still, the new scheme remains a work in progress. Reid is used to more of a rushing role, not drifting back to hover in an area.

"It's coming along," Reid said. "I'm trying to get comfortable in this system and defense."

The Broncos looked more than comfortable against the NFC champion Cardinals, shutting down Warner & Co. in the first quarter, then clamping down on the reserves the rest of the way.

Rookie safety David Bruton played a big role, intercepting a pass and recovering a fumble.

"That gives me a whole lot of confidence," said Bruton, a fourth-round pick out of Notre Dame.

For defensive end Jarvis Moss, the game was a final chance to make a lasting impression. He's just hoping it's enough. The former first-round pick has had an eventful camp, leaving during the first week to ponder retirement, only to return three days later.

Although Moss had a sack and forced a fumble against Arizona, he's on the bubble for a spot on the team. Denver will trim the roster to 53 players on Saturday.

Moss isn't fretting.

"That's something I'm not going to do, I refuse to do," Moss said. "I can't control it. I don't know if I did enough. I'm not really too concerned. I went out there and played hard _ that's what I did."

Eager for a pass rush, the Broncos traded up to the 17th spot in 2007 to snare Moss. He's had just 3 1/2 sacks and 39 tackles in his injury-marred career.

But he feels Nolan's system is the right fit for him.

"Love the 3-4," Moss said. "It's great for our team."

That is, once they get the full grasp of it.

"Guys have really taken ownership of this defense because it is our defense and we're only as good as what we put in," safety Renaldo Hill said. "There's always going to be growing pains, but the good teams are able to correct it fast and able to sustain when they're in tough situations.

"We know we have to stay strong as a team and as a defense."