GLENDALE, ARIZ. – In defeat came plenty of Sunshine.
Jordan “Sunshine” Taylor caught two touchdown passes to do all he could to possibly secure a spot on the 53-man roster spot, although his Denver Broncos lost to the Arizona Cardinals, 38-17, here Thursday at University of Phoenix Stadium in the fourth and final preseason game.
“Obviously nothing’s guaranteed,’’ Taylor said. “I went out there and gave it my all and try to put what I could on tape. I guess tomorrow we’ll find out where I stand.’’
Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak told his players following the game that he and general manager John Elway hoped to set most of their 53-man roster by 10 a.m. Friday.
"We've got a lot of tough decisions to make,'' Kubiak said.
Taylor, a tall, slender receiver from Rice who spent his rookie season last year on the Broncos’ practice squad, had four catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns. He was the first Broncos receiver to have a 100-yard receiving game since Emmanuel Sanders against Houston in August, 2014.
Taylor now doubt did enough to nab the No. 6 receiver spot on the Broncos’ roster. BUT ...
There is a catch – teams don’t always carry more than five receivers. The Broncos already have five in Demaryius Thomas, Sanders, Jordan Norwood, Bennie Fowler and Cody Latimer. Helping Taylor’s cause is Fowler (elbow) and Latimer (knee) may not be at full strength for the Broncos’ opener next Thursday night (9News TV) against the Carolina Panthers in a Super Bowl 50 rematch at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
"He's a kid who's done a lot of good things since he's been here,'' Kubiak said of Taylor. "He got to play the most he's played (tonight) and he goes out and makes plays.''
Taylor caught both touchdown passes from rookie quarterback Paxton Lynch, who played well until throwing a pick six midway through the fourth quarter. In his first professional start, Lynch completed 13 of 22 passes for 214 yards, the two touchdowns to Taylor, and the interception to Arizona linebacker Gabe Martin, who returned it for a 29-yard touchdown.
But they were more ready.
Kapri Bibbs, Lynch and Taylor needed just three plays to go 75 yards for a touchdown on the Broncos’ first offensive possession. Bibbs, the former Colorado State star who entered the game competing for one of the final spots on the Broncos’ 53-man roster, opened with two runs behind huge holes for 18 yards.
And then Taylor took a simple hitch pass from Lynch on the right side, broke one tackle, cut inside another and sped into the clear for a 57-yard touchdown.
"I was running scared," Taylor said with a smile.
Three plays later, Broncos linebacker Dwayne Norman smothered Arizona quarterback Matt Barkley, forcing a fumble that linebacker Zaire Anderson recovered at the Arizona 27.
Following a 10-yard pass from Lynch to his former college buddy Mose Frazier, Broncos kicker Brandon McManus converted a 33-yard field goal and Denver had a 10-0 lead just 5 minutes and 15 seconds into the game.
At that point, Arizona woke up and dominated the rest of the first half. Neither team played its starters. Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak, knowing his team had to play for keeps in seven days, rested his top 35 to 40 players. The Broncos finished the preseason with a 2-2 record while Arizona improved to 1-3.
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