Dec 31, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Duke Blue Devils running back Juwan Thompson (23) runs the ball past Texas A&M Aggies defensive lineman Jay Arnold (96) during the second quarter in the 2013 Chick-fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos vs. Seahawks Pre-Season: Big Stage for Young, Unproven Players to Earn Spots

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Broncos vs. Seahawks.

There aren’t many teams in the NFL with the kind of depth the Denver Broncos have, but the Seattle Seahawks are one of them.

Two of the deepest 90-man rosters in the NFL are set to battle it out Thursday night, and fans couldn’t be more excited to get the taste of the Super Bowl out of their mouths once and for all this season. But the only way that will truly happen is with a third Lombardi Trophy in tow, and maybe a victory or two against the Seahawks along the way.

After abusing Seattle during their time in the AFC West, the Broncos were blown out by the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. Call it redemption or vindication, the Broncos and their fans were just straight up embarrassed.

And rightfully so.

But as we all know, the NFL means ‘not for long’ and many have decided to move on from that game mentally, but keep the memory as a nice, heavy chip on the shoulder.

Unfortunately, the ‘not for long’ aspect of the NFL reaches much further than fans’ memories of individual games or team accomplishments. It reaches all the way to the players on the roster, and the Broncos have nearly 40 guys who have poured their hearts into this team over the offseason that won’t make the final 53-man roster.

Of the 90 players on the team, only 61 can be Broncos including the practice squad, but more than that will find their way onto an NFL roster somehow, some way. This game against the Seahawks in Denver is much more highly anticipated than most pre-season games because it’s a rematch of the Super Bowl, and the young players making up the back end of the Broncos’ roster have a chance to really make an impact and impression to coaches, to other teams, and to the fans.

I’ll be looking at a few guys in particular who have a chance to take a stranglehold on a potential roster spot, guys who have been making waves at training camp and even back to OTAs, but no other position is going to get as much of a fair shot at roster competition than at the running back position, where every spot except Montee Ball’s is technically open.

Ronnie Hillman will get the first crack at things with the 1st team, but C.J. Anderson will be knocking at the door and Juwan Thompson will get the first shot at carries among a short list of undrafted free agents who are battling it out for the fourth spot.

The Broncos have done phenomenal job in their history of developing late-round and undrafted players to contribute at running back, and they need a role player to step up and take that fourth job. This is a huge opportunity against a deep, aggressive defense to make an impression, something C.J. Anderson did last year in his brief pre-season work to earn a roster spot while missing a few weeks with an injury.

John Elway and the front office obviously feel pretty comfortable with the situation at running back, or they would have signed someone to come in and take a roster spot. They are opening it up to a hungry rookie, someone carrying that chip on their shoulder. Right now, the leader is former Duke jack-of-all-trades Juwan Thompson, but the pre-season games could change that at any moment. Every big run will be accounted for, every special teams play, blitz pickup, and catch out of the backfield.

To me, that’s going to be the most fun position group to watch in the pre-season especially since they will touch the ball so often, but there’s competition all over the Broncos’ roster.

Needless to say, you’ll want to stay tuned to Predominantly Orange for more on the matchups and position battles in Thursday’s pre-season kickoff with the Broncos and Seahawks.

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Tags: C.j. Anderson Denver Broncos Juwan Thompson Kapri Bibbs Pre-season Ronnie Hillman Roster Battles Running Backs Training Camp

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