The third preseason game in the NFL has come to be known as the “dress rehearsal game.” Most of the starters on each respective team typically play at least the entire first half, sometimes even playing into the third quarter. For the Denver Broncos on Saturday night it was the former.
After falling behind 10-0 in the first quarter, the Broncos battled back to tie the game at 10 before the half ended. The defense looked sharp with complimentary players and backups filling starting roles allowing only 10 points to a potent Green Bay offense (in reality it was only three points considering Green Bay started on the Denver three-yard line after a Trevor Siemian interception).
In very limited action, Aaron Rodgers was held to just 12 yards on 3/5 passing. The 2nd unit picked up where the first left off, allowing only seven points in the second half and sealing the victory for the Broncos 20-17.
Winners And Losers From Denver Broncos 3rd Preseason Game
Winner: Jamaal Charles
Jamaal Charles was essentially playing for a roster spot on Saturday night. His talent is unprecedented, but coming off of an ACL tear in 2016, Vance Joseph and the rest of Broncos Country wanted to see if Charles had any “juice” left to add some versatility and dynamics to the offense.
Ask and you shall receive.
In just about every facet of the game, Charles all but locked up a spot on the final 53-man roster. He demonstrated his running ability that plagued the Broncos for nearly a decade. He showcased his catching skills out of the backfield. He displayed his veteran prowess in pass protections and expunged a few big hits that were meant from Siemian. If he can remain healthy, Charles will be an unbelievable offensive weapon that may turn out to be the steal of free agency. With Spencer Ware getting injured in KC, how will the division rival feel that they allowed him to walk?
Since Training Camp began and even before, the Denver Broncos have been plagued with injuries. Shaquil Barrett was diagnosed with a hip injury back in May that is caused him to miss several months. Second year running back Devontae Booker has a hairline fracture in his wrist that could keep him out until week three of the regular season. Starting linebacker Shane Ray had surgery at the end on July on a torn ligament in his wrist that will keep him sidelined for 6-8 weeks. He will likely play with a cast when he is available. Derek Wolfe severely sprained his ankle during camp but should be ready to go by regular season kickoff.
Just a little swelling 😎 pic.twitter.com/iCz1TL7FhE
— Derek Wolfe (@Derek_Wolfe95) August 12, 2017
Starting safety T.J. Ward has missed time due to a hamstring injury, more for precautionary reasons, and rookie third-round draft pick, Carlos Henderson, has been out since week one of the preseason with a thumb injury. Phew. Enough is enough.
But, unfortunately, the injury bug struck again on Saturday night with WR Demaryius Thomas, S Will Parks, DL Zach Kerr, and QB Paxton Lynch all leaving the contest due to injury. All of the injuries do not appear to be very serious, but it just adds another element to a team riddled with injuries right before the season starts.
If Paxton Lynch’s sore shoulder keeps him out of Thursday’s game, then Kyle Sloter will be expected to play the entire exhibition, essentially giving him an open tryout for all other 31 teams.
Winner: Trevor Siemian
Trevor Siemian started off extremely shaky, air-mailing a few passes, and throwing an interception that gave the Packers the ball on the three-yard line, setting them up for a touchdown on the next play. Broncos fans everywhere began rolling their eyes, “here we go again.”
After the pick, Siemian continued to look a little out of sync. But then a run changed everything. On a second and 10, with the pocket collapsing, Siemian scampered for a 16-yard run, sparking the offense. The Broncos capped the drive off with a 16-yard touchdown run by C.J. Anderson through a gaping hole created by the offensive line.
Siemian would lead two more drives down into the red zone. One stalled after the offense could not complete a 3rd and 1 and a 4th and 1, while the other resulted in a Brandon McManus field goal.
Siemian finished the game 13/22 for 127 yards and the interception. Not eye-popping stats, but it was good to see him take control of the offense and lead some positive drives. Remember, he was just named the starter a few days ago, so the more reps that he gets with the ones, the better his timing will be.
Loser: Paxton Lynch
I was, and still am, high on Paxton Lynch, but he is 100% not ready to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. In his one drive before being injured, he was 1/2 for nine yards and was sacked twice; he did have one run for 15 yards and led the offense to a field goal, but his play was much of the same that it has been up until this point.
If his first option is not open, he ends his progression and panics in the pocket. He is able to make plays with his legs but misses out on some easy plays that would make his job a whole lot simpler. If he is able to go on Thursday night, I will be excited to see how he does with a few full quarters of work.
Winner: Defense / Von Miller / Shelby Harris
With a myriad of injuries on the defensive side of the ball, the defense continues to dominate and demonstrate why they are the best in the business. Through four quarters of play, the defense gave up a total of 265 yards and allowed an impressive 15.4% third down percentage.
Von Miller was in the game for a very short time, but on only two 3rd-down pressures, he converted one to a sack on Aaron Rodgers. He is ready for a monster season.
Shelby Harris is proving yet again that he deserves a spot on the Broncos roster. After a two-turnover performance last week, Harris exploded on Saturday night for seven tackles and three sacks. He will have to do it again on Thursday, but so far he has made a name for himself among fans and in the locker room.
Winner: Garett Bolles
Garett Bolles had a very solid game on Saturday. He held his own in pass protection and looked improved in the run game. But here is the biggest improvement: No Penalties. Bolles is shaping out to look like the first round pick that the Broncos needed and could become the anchor of the offensive line for a very long time.