3 Broncos rookies that could have the biggest impact in Week 1

Denver Broncos, Montrell Washington (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos, Montrell Washington (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images) /
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Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos, Matt Henningsen – Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

Impact Rookie(s) No. 3: Eyioma Uwazurike, DL/Matt Henningsen, DL

(Yes, I know these are technically two players, but they come as a two-piece combo here)

While it is still may be too early in the season to identify any weaknesses on the team, it’s safe to assume the Broncos’ run defense fits the mold as a prime suspect. With all the injuries plaguing the Broncos at the linebacker position, a ton of weight will fall back onto the defensive line to clog up the line of scrimmage and stop the running attack.

Yes, the Broncos did sign free-agent DJ Jones to a 3-year, $30 million deal. And yes, his run-stop percentage of 13.1% was the best in the league of the 105 interior defensive linemen who had at least 150 snaps against the run, according to PFF. But the Broncos struggled heavily against the run last year, allowing almost 4.29 yards per carry and 111.3 rushing yards a game.

The Broncos might be taking a step in the right direction, but DJ Jones won’t be able to do it alone this season. The ongoing rotation across that defensive front will feature the likes of both rookies, Eyioma Uwazurike and Matt Henningsen.

Both rookies had their fair share of big-time plays this preseason. The most notable were Uwazurike’s 4th down, goal-line stand against the Vikings in the preseason finale, and Henningsen’s near-sack, also on 4th down, that led to a PJ Locke interception against the Cowboys.

The two will have their chance to do it all again on Monday Night Football against Seattle. The Russell Wilson-less Seahawks will now look to lean even more onto their stable of running backs with Geno Smith now as their new starting quarterback. This should open up more run-stuffing opportunities for both, Uwazurike and Henningsen. Their ability to eliminate the Seahawks’ rushing attack will likely be the key to victory Monday night.