We are only days away from Broncos' football. Sure, only preseason action, but after many months of no football, anything will do. Obviously it does not matter if we win or lose; but sure a win would be nice. Anyway, unlike the regular season, the preseason actually is a time for players to focus on themselves. Everyone who steps on the field is trying to make the team, even though some players already have a niche on the team. The preseason is focused on team depth and this is usually the time when "sleeper players" are discovered. It's also the time to see how replacement players will handle their new roles. Obviously we have plenty to look for in this area.
The preseason, for me, is like an appetizer. We get to see how some players are handling the new offense, how the defensive blitzing schemes have changed, and how the rookies are adjusting to the NFL. The preseason is also a time to speculate, but this time, we have game notes to help instead of relying on projections. But, it is still early in the year, and too much speculation can be deadly. Keeping a level-head in the preseason can be tough since we are not sure if poor play is a result of "rust" or if it should be a concern. Last year's first preseason game against the Niners is a good example. The thread went crazy when Kyle Orton drove the team all the way down the field but then throw a red zone INT. Then to make matters worse, he threw two more. Everyone kept saying that we were doomed, including myself. I supported Orton throughout the year but was extremely worried on how he would handle the new offensive system. So obviously, the first preseason game cannot be used as a sample for the rest of the season, since Orton would go on to have his best season ever. So, my standards for the first preseason game are not too high. With this in mind, here is who I am watching for:
1. Robert Ayers: He is the one who is assigned with an extremely tough task, make Dumervil's abscence hard to notice. Ayers had limited playing time last year, which is obviously going to change this year. We know that the defensive scheme this year is going to include a lot of blitzing, so I expect to see Ayers involved in quite a few plays when the opposing QB drops back. As for run support, he is there to seal the outside edge, not to stuff the ball-carrier. I'll be looking to see if he can get consistent pressure on the quarterback and if he seals the edge well.
2. Kyle Orton: We now know that last year, Kyle was playing on two bad ankles. I am hoping that was the reason he was not moving much in the pocket. At times he seemed to be immobile, sacking himself at times. I think he did this because he knew that the team could not win with a back-up quarterback of Chris Simms status (I mean, the guy had not played in a long time). I'll be watching whether Orton is mobile enough to evade the pressure since his two ankles are better.
3. Eddie Royal: He struggled against press coverage but he was not playing in the slot, so it will be interesting to see if he is improving. From the training camp reports that I have read, he seems to be adjusting quite well. I'll be looking to see if Royal is going to be utilized this year more, which I have heard he is, but not just if he will be used, but how. Is he going to run drag routes (like Wes Welker), or is he going to run posts into the middle (a deepthreat). It is going to be interesting.
4. Richard Quinn: Is he for real? That's all I have to say.
5. Perrish Cox: There has been a lot of compliments on Cox's play in training camp. I want to see if the hype about this kid is for real. I believe the reports, but I want to see him play before I make any judgements on him.
6. Alphonso Smith: Smith did not impress too much last year but it's a new season. How will Phonz handle the new competition? Is he less tentative than he was before? Smith's ankle bothered him much of the year last year, so with a full off-season to recover, I cannot wait to see if he has improved.
Thanks for reading. Go Broncos!!