Training camps are coming to a close and the preseason is just around the corner. After the Broncos team scrimmage drew more than 41,000 fans to Sports Authority Field at Mile High over the weekend, Broncos fans are ready for some football. The regular season will open with a bang on September 9th with a rematch of the wildcard playoff round against the Steelers. Before that game, the Broncos must navigate more practices and four preseason games. The first preseason test will come on Aug. 9th against the Bears. Here’s my list of things to look for during the preseason:
- It wouldn’t be a Broncos article if I didn’t lead off with Peyton Manning. Generally, starting quarterbacks don’t get a ton of playtime in the preseason. But, what do you do when your starter hasn’t played a game in over a year and is coming back from multiple neck surgeries? Start him. Coach John Fox has indicated that Peyton will start against the Bears on Thursday, but is unsure of how much playing time he will receive after the first few series. The Broncos need to toe the line of preparing the future Hall of Famer for the season, but also protecting him against injury. It will be interesting to see how much playtime Peyton receives over the preseason.
- Rookie Brock Osweiler is currently pretty deep on the depth chart, but he could easily move up in the 2012 season. If the Broncos have their way, Osweiler won’t be taking many snaps in the regular season. Manning’s contract is one year longer than the rookie’s and he may have to assume a different role this year, student and eventually, heir. When drafted, (he was a second round pick), Osweiler knew that he would spend much of his time learning. The preseason, however, may be his time to prove he is the Broncos’ #2. Look for the rookie to test his skills in the next few weeks.
- The Broncos have already had a terrible time with injuries in training camp. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, famous for catching the pass that resulted in the shortest post season overtime ever last year, is just coming back from an Achilles injury. The Broncos have also already lost Wide receiver D’Andre Goodwin and running back Mario Fannin to injuries. With the preseason just beginning, it is crucial to keep as many players in good health as possible. Champ Bailey told the Denver Post, “It’s why as a player, you always want the preseason over with, you always want to just do the work, get through it and play the season. You want everybody as healthy as they can be to start the year.” It is crucial that the Broncos do not lose any major players to injury in the preseason.
- All four of the Broncos’ preseason matchups reside in the NFC. Among the four opponents are the San Francisco 49ers, who made a very legitimate deep post-season run in 2011. The 49ers are the Broncos’ most common preseason opponent, this year marks their 34th matchup, and it will be interesting to see how the two teams mesh this year.
- The offseason is when teams make their final cuts. Every play is a try-out for the players on the bubble. In the next few weeks, the coaching staff will make their finals cuts for the 2012-2013. It will be exciting to see who makes the final roster and how the puzzles pieces will fit for this season.