Broncos vs 49ers: 5 Storylines To Watch

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Feb 2, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin (11) runs past Denver Broncos strong safety Duke Ihenacho (33) in the first quarter in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports


If the Broncos had to choose 5 safeties to make the final roster today, they’d probably choose T.J. Ward, Rahim Moore, Quinton Carter, David Bruton and Duke Ihenacho.

But they don’t have to make that decision today. And there’s a fierce battle brewing for that 5th and final safety spot between Duke Ihenacho and John Boyett.

Technically, you could throw David Bruton in there, but I really don’t think his spot on the team is in jeopardy, mainly because of his special teams acumen.

Ihenacho was a starter at strong safety last year. He even started in the Super Bowl. He is a team veteran, but that isn’t going to save him from the roster heap, if he can’t elevate his play.

I’ve been critical of Ihenacho of late. I haven’t been impressed with him, as a fully rounded safety, ever. But watching him in the Broncos first preseason game last week, I came away unimpressed.

Ihenacho can be a force in the box, but his abilities in coverage are a straight up liability. However, he does bring an edge, or a moxie, that is very appealing. He’s a smash-mouth dude.

But so is John Boyett. And where Ihenacho is below average in coverage, Boyett has skills. Check out this snippet from his scouting report.

"“Some football players are measured more by their intensity than their height; Boyett certainly fits in that category. Though he won’t hit the 5-foot-11 mark on the measuring tape at the Combine, he’s had no problems making plays on the ball as a three-year starter at free safety and opposing receivers and running backs will tell you his hits come as hard as those from any prototypically-sized defensive back. Usually plays single high safety, last line of defense and deepest player in coverage in spite of below-average height for the position. Adequate range on downfield throws, takes aggressive angles and really attacks the catch point. Not afraid in the least to lay out to cause a deflection or make the interception. Can change his angle to adjust to the pass or receiver. Very aware of the likely target on many passes, shuffles to that side. Plays with an attitude.”"

The Broncos like this kid. He has practice squad eligibility, so if he doesn’t make the team, it won’t be the end of the world, IF the team can sneak him through waivers. Now that he’s 100%, that will be easier said than done.

It’ll be interesting to watch these two continue to battle it out on Sunday. Ihenacho had a below average outing last week, and Boyett was instrumental in the Broncos 3rd team defense holding off the Seahawks at the end of the game, and forcing the game-clinching turnover.