ENGLEWOOD—Unleash the bench!
The Kansas City Chiefs won't be the only team giving younger, backup players more snaps during the regular-season finale Sunday afternoon at eventually-to-be-renamed Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
If for a different reason, the Broncos are also planning to give some of their best players a few more plays off than usual during the game, multiple players and league sources told 9NEWS.
Joseph was seen talking to the team's leadership council following practice Friday, apparently to inform them he was going to give more playing time to his younger players.
The 9-6 Chiefs won't play quarterback Alex Smith, receiver/returner Tyrique Hill and perhaps a few other stars in the name of staying healthy and rested for their first-round playoff game as the No. 4 AFC seed next week.
For the 5-10 Broncos, it could mean seeing more of Deiontrez Mount and less of Von Miller for reasons of evaluating young players for next year.
Broncos rookie cornerbacks Marcus Rios, Brendan Langley and safety Dymonte Thomas may play a little more as Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr., and Darian Stewart play a little less.
Jerrol Garcia-Williams and Zaire Anderson may get more snaps than usual at inside linebacker in place of Brandon Marshall and Todd Davis.
Along the defensive front, there may be a DeMarcus Walker sighting and Kyle Peko was going to play some, anyway, with Zach Kerr out with an ankle injury.
On offense, the Broncos will still try to get 54 more rushing yards for C.J. Anderson and 108 more receiving yards for Demaryius Thomas so they can each reach their 1,000-yard milestones.
But then rookie running back De'Angelo Henderson and rookie receiver Isaiah McKenzie may get some touches. Up front, Cyrus Kouandjio will play his share of right tackle instead of Donald Stephenson, who is questionable to play anyway because of a hand injury. (Update: After this story was published, the Broncos announced Stephenson had been downgraded to ''out.'')
Virgil Green may give away some tight end snaps to the likes of Jeff Heuerman, Austin Traylor and possibly Matt LaCosse.
And it has been well-documented, this entire final-game youth movement started at quarterback where Paxton Lynch will get only his second start of the season, fourth of his two-year career.
The Broncos currently have the No. 6 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Lose to Kansas City on Sunday and the Broncos could pick as high as No. 4. Win and they could select as low as No. 10.
Joseph stated throughout the week the priority is still to win the game, it's just the way they will go about doing it could include a different playing time rotation.
The plan to play the kids could be an indication Joseph is in good standing with his boss John Elway as the Broncos both look to close out 2017 on a winning note and look ahead to 2018.