KUSA-On a day that may be most remembered for Peyton Manning being fined more than $8k for taunting D.J. Swearinger while defending Wes Welker in the third preseason game, Thursday night will be the culmination of "Brock Osweiler appreciation month."
Osweiler is coming off of a 4/11 passing performance, in which the former ASU standout amassed only 43 passing years---his worst outing of the preseason.
However, without a doubt he has cemented his role as Peyton Manning's backup this season, which turns the attention to Zac Dysert.
The third-year quarterback impressed in Week 2 at San Francisco, including a touchdown pass, but didn't see a down in last Saturday's loss to Houston.
It will be interesting to see if he is kept on the active 53-man roster that has to be set on August 30th or if he will be moved to the practice squad, that has now been increased from eight to ten players this season.
The caveat of the practice squad is that any player has to clear waivers before being added---meaning that any team has a right to claim that player and place him on their 53-man roster. If multiple teams claim that player off of waivers, he will go to the team with the worst record of that group from last season.
Osweiler will start and is expected to play at least the first half in Thursday's contest, with Dysert to follow.
The runningback situation is also an interesting topic going into the game against the Cowboys. A roster spot is up for grabs between rookie free agents Juwan Thompson and Kapri Bibbs. Thompson has impressed showing a valuable combination of size and his ability to break tackles, while Bibbs has also impressed, after leading the college ranks in rushing touchdowns last season. The difference on who makes the 53-man roster may come down to their ability to play on special teams, in which case, Thompson has the current edge.
This game will also be the first for newly acquired kicker Brandon McManus. The former New York Giant was brought on in wake of the news released that current Pro Bowl kicker Matt Prater will miss the first four games due to suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
This is also a homecoming for newly acquired Demarcus Ware. The big defensive end expressed this week that he would "love to retire a Cowboy." However, like the rest of the starters he will not play in the preseason finale.
Other players to keep an eye on:
-Rookie punt returner/receiver Isaiah Burse: The Fresno State alumnus, has had ample opportunity after veteran Jordan Norwood went down last week with a torn ACL. Look for Burse to see time both in the return game and on offense.
-Veteran defensive lineman Mitch Unrein: The homegrown product will need to impress on a pass rush heavy defensive front. He has been a stable reserve for the last two seasons, but with the growth of other young players including Sylvester Williams and rookie Kenny Anunike, Unrein needs to prove that he still belongs.
The Broncos will open the 2014 Regular Season on September 7th against the Colts on Sunday Night Football.
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