GLENDALE, Ariz--Even if the starters on both sides won't play, don't tell the others this is a meaningless preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals here tonight.
Among the Denver Broncos' players who played in the fourth and final preseason game last year against Arizona, and then went on to help Denver win Super Bowl 50: Brock Osweiler, Michael Schofield, Andre "Bubba" Caldwell, Cody Latimer, Bennie Fowler, Jordan Norwood, Corey Nelson, third-string quarterback Trevor Siemian, Britton Colquitt, Brandon McManus and Aaron Brewer,
Here are 9 goals for the Broncos in their final NFL preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals:
1. Stay healthy, Paxton
The first-round rookie doesn’t have to play great. It would help, but more importantly is he comes out healthy. If Lynch finishes in good shape, the Broncos may move on from veteran Mark Sanchez. If there’s concern about Lynch after this game, Sanchez could be asked back at a pay reduction from his scheduled $4.5 million salary.
2. Win the job
Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak said there will be two or three players who will win a 53-man roster spot based on their performance in this game. Others may lose their tenuous hold. Among the players fighting for a roster spot tonight are Ronnie Hillman, Kapri Bibbs, Juwan Thompson, Jordan Taylor, Kalif Raymond, Taurean Nixon, John Phillips, Dillon Day, Henry Melton, Kyle Peko, Billy Winn, Kyle Kragen and Ryan Murphy.
3. Prove it, Riley
The only starters who will play this game are the Broncos’ three specialists: Kicker Brandon McManus, punter Riley Dixon and long snapper Casey Kreiter. Dixon, a draft-pick rookie from Syracuse, will be punting for the first time since the Broncos released his competitor, Britton Colquitt, the six-year incumbent.
4. Avoid the Syd’Quan Thompson
In Josh McDaniels’ doomed season of 2010, seventh-round rookie cornerback Syd’Quan Thompson was a preseason surprise who was going to make the Broncos’ season-opening 53-man roster. And then Thompson suffered a torn Achilles in the Broncos’ final preseason game at Minnesota. Thompson played a couple years in the Arena League but never did play a game in the NFL.
5. Run the ball
A game like this, when only desperate, second- and third-stringers are playing, you want to play as conservatively as possible. The Broncos should go heavier on Bibbs’ runs than Lynch throws. .
6. McManus groove
Understandably, it took a while for Broncos placekicker Brandon McManus to get used to new holder Riley Dixon after having so much success with Britton Colquitt. But McManus was perfect in three placekicks last week with Dixon holding and since he has to kick tonight, he might as well make them.
7. Stop the run
Denver’s second-string defense has been vulnerable to the big run, most notably while allowing a 73-yard run to the Rams’ Terrence Magee last week.
8. Keep the starters well back
About 25 Broncos regulars will work out before the game, but not dress for the game. There’s no reason for them to toe up to the field of play where accidental collisions can happen.
9. Play like it’s your last game
There will be 22 players removed from the Broncos’ roster with the next 48 hours. Perhaps a handful of those cut player will never play again.
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