Given that the starting units for the Denver Broncos may not get much playing time Thursday night in Arizona, both offensive and defensive starters had better go out and put up a solid performance this afternoon when the 49ers visit Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium. A strong performance today will no doubt give the Broncos additional confidence and will definitely provide their fan base with a comfortable feeling as opening day approaches.
Typically, the third preseason game is when the projected starters will get the most playing time, but that general rule is not set in stone by any means. John Fox and his coaching staff must make the decision to give their starters more repetitions in actual game-like scenarios and risk injuries on every play, or they must choose to give the second, third, and fourth string players more time so they can fairly evaluate their entire personnel before making cuts. All of that being said, below are a few things to watch for this afternoon when the Broncos host the 49ers:
- Will Peyton Manning get his first touchdown pass as a Bronco today? This milestone should have occurred last Saturday night, if not the week before, but unfortunately, Jacob Tamme couldn’t bring the pass in for a touchdown. If Manning doesn’t get a TD pass today, the team will move on and continue preparing as usual, but from a fan’s perspective, this is what these guys are paid to do. This trend cannot continue come September.
- Watch how the backups perform, because some of them will be called on to be key contributors this season. One intriguing thing about preseason is realizing that the young players are on the verge of a lifelong dream, which may or may not come to fruition. I would expect to see 100% effort from these guys, as long as there is time left on the scoreboard.
- Regardless of who is playing, keep your fingers crossed that no major injuries occur. Obviously, if an injury occurs to a Bronco starter, it could impact the start of the season. An injury to a player trying to establish himself in the league could not only impact this season, but could ultimately change the direction of his career in professional football.
Preseason wins and losses don’t count, but it always feels better to win; so, let’s hope the Broncos entire team, from players to coaches, have adequately prepared this week and will have a solid outing today that puts a “W” in the win column.