KUSA—It’s a big day in sports.
The Travers Stakes horse race (on NBC) features all three Triple Crown winners (Always Dreaming, Cloud Computing, Tapwrit).
The Northern Trust golf tournament has Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler tied atop the leaderboard.
Colorado State opens Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium against Oregon State.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. tries to go 50-0 lifetime in a boxing match against a popular mixed martial artist from Ireland.
The Rockies play the Braves and the Cubs play the Phillies (what?).
But nothing beats the Broncos playing their first home preseason game against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers at eventually-to-be-renamed Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Here 9 goals for the Broncos in the exhibition game in which many starters are expected to play the first half:
1.Pay attention to game, not Mayweather-McGregor
Starters will be pulled by the opening bell of the Mayweather-Conor McGregor boxing exhibition. The fight should start roughly halfway through the third quarter and the Broncos’ A listers, who may or may not have some friendly side wagers on the bout, owe the B-squaders their undivided attention.
2.Run, Jamaal, run
Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said running back Jamaal Charles will play plenty in his Denver debut. Given the financial commitment involved, it’s unclear whether Charles is playing to convince the Broncos brass he belongs on the Broncos’ 53-man roster, or he’s already assured a spot on the team and this is merely a tune-up for the opener against the Los Angeles Chargers on September 11.
3. Trevor and first-team offense score at least 13 points in first half
This is the first game in which there is certainty Trevor Siemian is the Broncos’ starting quarterback. Three scores – a touchdown and two field goals at minimum – is not asking too much to ask in the first half against a Green Bay defense that hasn’t been top 10-caliber since – what a coincidence! – it’s Super Bowl title in 2010.
4. Stay healthy
This is actually the No. 1 team goal in every preseason game. Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller will play the first series, maybe two. He needs the work but the Broncos and their fans will watch him while holding their breaths.
5. Contain Aaron Rodgers
The ankle injury this week of Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga may cause coach Mike McCarthy to limit the playing time of Rodgers, who remains the NFL’s best quarterback. Bulaga would primarily line up against Miller, the Broncos’ star pass rusher.
If Rodgers plays a quarter instead of a half, the Denver D can give up a field goal but not a touchdown drive.
6. Block Clay Matthews III and Nick Perry
After playing some inside linebacker the past three years, Matthews is back on the edge where he should return to double-figure sack form. He will team with Perry, who had 11.0 sacks last year. Broncos left tackle Garett Bolles and right tackle Menelik Watson will be tested.
7. Challenge former Buff David Bakhtiari
The Packers have one of the best left tackles in Bakhtiari, a three-year starter at Colorado whose Buffs went 5-7, 3-10 and 1-11 before he wisely decided to forgo his senior season for the NFL draft. He received a four-year, $48 million contract extension last year that included a $15 million signing bonus.
With Shaq Barrett and Shane Ray on the mend, the Broncos need to find an effective pass rusher opposite Miller. Kasim Edebali, Vontarrius Dora and rookie DeMarcus Walker will get their chances.
8. Tighten up special teams coverage
In a moment of gallows humor Thursday, Broncos special teams coordinator Brock Olivo mentioned how there were nearly as many flags (six) on the field as Denver had special teams players (eight) in the preseason game last week against the 49ers.
The Broncos have given up long kickoff returns in each of their two preseason games. To further evaluate his special teamers, Olivo won’t have Brandon McManus boot touchbacks on every kickoff.
9. Stop the run
With Denver defensive ends Derek Wolfe and Jared Crick out, and Miller playing, expect the Packers to work on running the ball after they’ve averaged just 3.3 yards per carry in the preseason so far.