For a second consecutive year, the Broncos open their preseason against former coach John Fox and the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
Here are 9 goals for in the Broncos’ preseason opener:
1.Good Quarterback Play
Forget finding the starter through a preseason game. Don’t Bronco fans want Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch to both play well? Make the decision difficult. They’ll probably both play this season.
2. Stay healthy
One area college football has it over the NFL is no preseason games. Which means no devastating injuries in games that mean nothing to the season standings.
3. A sack from Von’s partner
We’re talking at the outside linebacker position opposite Von Miller. The position where Shane Ray (right wrist) and Shaq Barrett (hip) are out a while. Kasim Edebali, Vontarrius Dora and DeMarcus Walker are the top candidates. If Miller plays, he may also turn it up on new Bears quarterback Mike Glennon.
First-round rookie left tackle Garett Bolles will be asked to protect the blindside edge against either Leonard Floyd, the Bears’ first-round pick last year who had 7.0 sacks as a rookie, or veteran Willie Young, who had 7.5 sacks.
5.Run the ball
The new offensive line, sans center Matt Paradis, is especially strong in run blocking. The Broncos ranked 27th in rushing last year. They’ll need to be a top 15 rushing team this year to help their uncertain quarterback situation.
6.Check out the rookies
Bolles will get his first test at left tackle. Second-round inside defensive lineman DeMarcus Walker will get playing time at outside linebacker. Fifth-round punt returner and slot receiver Isaiah McKenzie will get his first chance to display his speed. Sixth-round running back De’Angelo Henderson should get some carries. Third-round receiver Carlos Henderson and cornerback Brendan Langley are competing for top backup jobs.
7. Stop the run
The Broncos weren’t very good at it last year, ranking 28th. And they won’t have inside linebacker Todd Davis (shoulder) in this game. The Broncos fortified their front this year with nose tackle Domata Peko. Zach Kerr and undrafted rookie Tyrique Jarrett will mix in. The Bears will be a strong test. Jordan Howard had a terrific rookie season with 1,313 yards on 5.2 yards per carry. Chicago is also high on fourth-round rookie running back Tarik Cohen.
8.New coach’s game decisions
Vance Joseph may get his first chance to decide whether to punt, or go for it on fourth-and-short. There will be a dozen other do or don’t decisions for Joseph, even in a preseason game.
9.Win a roster spot
After the first series or so, most of the good guys leave. There are 90 players on the roster and only 53 spots for the regular season. There is always a preseason surprise each year. It can happen with a big tackle or by throwing a nice block on special teams.