The 4th pre season game is always the most difficult to watch. As the starters sit on the sidelines with their orange and blue hats on, the backups are out there running around trying to make the team. Unfortunately, most of the time they are running the wrong way. Denver lost to the Arizona Cardinals 26-7. There are a lot of ways to describe the 4th pre season game, but "worthless" is definitely not one of them. Based on tonight's game, I count at least 5 players who made the roster or lost their roster spot based on this game.
So let's jump right into who was a stud and who was a dud.
If there was any question as to who should be the backup to Kyle Orton entering this game, there isn't anymore. Tim Tebow totally outplayed Brady Quinn in last night's game against the Arizona Cardinals and it wasn't even close. I'll talk more about Brady later, but Tim played well, particularly on his 6 play, 94 yard touchdown drive. Much has been said about Tim throughout the pre season, but two things are very clear to me. 1. Tim Tebow is capable of playing quarterback in this league and 2. Tim Tebow deserves the 2nd quarterback spot over Brady Quinn. As you can see here via NZBroncoFan, through 4 pre season games, here are the stats of our quarterbacks
Orton has completed 28 of 42 for 408 yards, with 2 tds for 1 int. Thats a comp % of 66.6%, 9.71 yds/attempt and a rating of 104.1
Quinn has completed 22 of 42 for 276 yards, with 2 tds and 2 ints. Thats a comp % of 52.4%, 6.57 yds/attempt and a rating of 69.1
Tebow has completed 20 of 31 for 310 yards, with 1 td and no ints. Thats a comp % of 64.5%, 10.0 yds/attempt and a rating of 108.3
Make the judgement for yourself.
I didn't know Demayrius Thomas changed his name. Eron Riley exploded in the 4th quarter against the Arizona Cardinals and finished the game with 3 catches for 144 yards and 1 touchdown. Somebody wants to make this team. First, he caught a nice sideline pass from Tim Tebow. Then he beat a cornerback long for a 43 yard touchdown. Lastly, he caught a sideline pass from Adam Weber and raced down the field for an 89 yard play.
Eron Riley: 6 receptions for 187 yards and 2 touchdowns
D'Andre Goodwin: 4 receptions for 67 yards and 0 touchdowns
David Anderson: 5 receptions for 57 yards and 0 touchdowns
Britt Davis: 2 receptions for 30 yards and 1 touchdown
So the question is, will Eron Riley make the roster? I think Denver planned on squeezing him onto the Practice Squad, but will not be able to after this performance. He will get picked up by someone after watching this performance. The one thing hurting Eron Riley is the fact that David Anderson is a punt returner. With Syd'Quan Thompson suffering a serious injury, David Anderson is now more valuable on special teams and I have yet to see Riley play on Special Teams. That is going to hurt him. I love what I've seen from him and I want him on the roster, but if Fox decides on just 5 WR, he may not make the cut.
This is the second guy who might have just played himself a spot on the Broncos. After going virtually unnoticed during the pre season, Goodwin had a very nice game against the Cardinals. He caught 3 passes for 49 yards. In addition to his offensive production, Goodwin played very well as a Special Teams gunner delivering the hit of the night when he raced down the field and smacked an Arizona punt returner.
Goodwin is more then likely going to be a victim of the numbers game, but due to his play tonight, he looks like a prime candidate to stash on the practice squad. He's got a pair of hands and he's got added value on Special Teams. With Brandon Lloyd and Eddie Royal both missing some time this pre season with injuries, it would be wise to stash a WR or two on the PS just in case. Goodwin has put himself into a nice position to stick with the Broncos.
An rookie undrafted free agent cornerback might have just played his way onto the roster with his special teams play. Now why does that sound so familiar? Oh that's right. The same situation occurred last season with a cornerback named Cassius Vaughn. The same Cassius Vaughn who is now 3rd on the depth chart.
Back to the game, Chris Harris was a ST stud in every sense of the word and he finished the night with 4 tackles. Harris also played pretty as a corner showing tight coverage. Although, he did get beat a couple times, he didn't show any worse then Perrish Cox did. With the injury to Syd'Quan Thompson, there is a cornerback opening for the Broncos. Is it possible Harris makes the roster? Yes, but it's more likely Denver targets a CB via waivers. Either way, Harris deserves a spot on the PS at the very least. He's been impressive as a special teams player.
As I asked Andrew Mason over on MaxBroncos.com, what did we feed Colquitt over the summer? Last year, Colquitt was okay, but nothing special. However, this pre season, he looks better then his brother. Against the Cardinals, he punted the ball 7 times for 320 yards and 45 yards per punt including a beautiful 59 yarder that was about 3 inches away from being downed at the 1 yard line instead of a touch back. I don't know what Colquitt did to get ready for this year, but he has me thinking he could seriously challenge for the title of Best Punter in the AFC West.
Quinton Carter looked and hit like the predator against the Cardinals. The 4th round pick from Oklahoma was always going to make the roster, but his play last night further solidified his spot. Carter was great playing in the box as he finished the game with 8 tackles including 1 TFL. Carter is playing in a crowded safety position, but he has clearly separated himself and looks like the best backup safety in Denver.
Give the guy credit. Despite his less then stellar showing this pre season, McBath has not given up on making this team. The speculation is that he has been battling David Bruton for the final safety position. Well, in the final pre season outing, Darcel McBath registered 1 tackle, 1 pass deflection and 1 incredible diving interception. Will it be enough to stay on the roster? I don't know. David Bruton is one of Denver's best special teamers while McBath has been unable to stay healthy. This decision will be an interesting one.
The backup defensive end job just got a little more interesting. With Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers firmly planted as the teams starters, there was a question as to who would be the 2-3 backups. Jason Hunter has been a favorite of my since he came to Denver from Detroit. He has been fantastic for Denver working his butt off to transition to a 3-4 last year and now playing well off pre season as a 4-3 DE. Hunter is a lock for this roster. He easily is the best pass rusher of the backup DE's. He finished the game with 5 tackles, 2 TFL and 1 QB hit. Hunter has shown he can be very quick off the snap. He looks very good and is a very nice backup option for us.
With Jason Hunter taking one backup DE job, that means there is one more up for grabs. That job would automatically go to Jeremy Jarmon for his great work as a DE/DT. However, due to injuries to Denver's DT's, Jarmon will most likely count as a DT on the depth chart. This leaves a potential spot open. Going into the game, Derrick Harvey looked like he would secure that spot, but not so fast ladies and gentlemen. Harvey was poor last night setting the edge and recorded just 1 tackle 1 TFL. On the other hand, Jeremy Beal just made things interesting. Beal had a fantastic game. He was active all over the field and finished the game with 4 tackles and 2 TFL. So, does Beal have a shot at overtaking Derrick Harvey as a backup DE? It's possible. Harvey hasn't been all that great this pre season and Beal has had his flashes. This is another interesting storyline to follow on cut day.
Going into the final pre season game, Denver had a couple job openings as the #3 and #4 RB's. Lance Ball looked to have a grip on one of those jobs which meant that Jeremiah Johnson and Brandon Minor were fighting for the #4 spot with Jeremiah Johnson seemingly having the edge. That was until Denver played the 4th pre season game. The running game was non existent for all but one of these running backs. Who was the back that preformed? Brandon Minor. Minor had a nice outing rushing 6 times for 32 yards (5.3 ypc). On the other hand, Lance Ball ran 8 times for just 17 yards (2.1 ypc) and Jeremiah Johnson ran just 4 carries for 10 yards (2.5 ypc).
So what does this do for the running back battle? Well, Lance Ball's stock is certainly down. After playing very well last week, Ball didn't do much of anything against the Cardinals. Ditto for Jeremiah Johnson who flashed earlier in the pre season. Brandon Minor has made it interesting. It looks like it will be Ball vs Johnson vs Minor for the #4 RB spot. The #3 spot will likely go to a RB who is picked up on waivers.
Andrew Luck who? Adam Weber just needed an opportunity to show what he could do. He entered the game in the final minute of the game. What did he do? He threw one pass that went for 89 yards. Then, he escaped a collapsed pocket and barreled 13 yards and just barely missed getting into the end zone.
At the 5 minute mark of the 4th quarter, I said that I wanted Tim Tebow to sit and to give Adam Weber a chance to play. Many people in the game thread gave me the "What are you crazy" look (I'm looking at you Tim Lynch), but Adam proved me right. Granted, his one pass went about 3 yards and Eron Riley did the rest, but that's besides the point. Adam Weber finished the game with a stat line of 1 of 1 for 89 yards and 1 rush for 13 yards. According to media analysts, the stats are all that matter.
In all seriousness, I'm very glad John Fox gave Weber a chance to make a play. I'm glad Weber made the play and while I was heartbroken when he came up short of the end zone, I loved seeing Tim Tebow and Larry Fitzgerald, who is all class, running towards Weber congratulating on an exciting final drive.
Stash that kid on the Practice Squad and get me his jersey.
How do I put this lightly? Brady Quinn was unbelievably awful last night against the Arizona Cardinals. How bad was he? He finished with a stat line of 4 of 12 for 26 yards, 1 interception and a 7.6 QB rating. He was .6 higher then Terrelle Pryor's Wonderlic. Brady looked uneasy in the pocket, slow in his reads and nothing like the QB we saw in weeks 1 and 2. In his defense, he was playing with a 2nd string OL that is just awful against 1st and 2nd string players. Nevertheless, Tim Tebow played in a similar situation in week 1 and did much better then Brady did. With his performance tonight, one has to assume that he has lost the backup QB battle to Tim Tebow. Sorry Brady, but this time you got a fair competition and just flat out lost.
What is worth then getting injured in the pre season? Getting injured in the 4th pre season game. Unfortunately, Denver suffered 3 injuries to keep backups. LB Nate Irving suffered a chest contusion, Britt Davis suffered a concussion, and David Bruton dinged up his shoulder. However, the most serious injury was the strained Achilles of backup CB Syd'Quan Thompson. Thompson was 4th on the depth chart at CB, but he was the team's primary punt returner. Now, it wouldn't be surprising if he ends up on IR. It's a real shame because Squid could definitely have been used this year. Hopefully, he is able to heal up his Achilles and comes back strong.
Perrish Cox has gotten a lot of lucky breaks recently. First, Nate Jones was cut (Thank the Lord) eliminating his most fierce competition as the team's 5th CB. Then, fellow 2010 draft pick Syd'Quan Thompson hurt his Achilles. This all but assures Cox a spot on the team's roster despite his impending court issues. Despite all that, Cox looked pretty bad against the Cardinals. He was repeatedly beat in coverage and couldn't capitalize on special teams, opting take a knee or fair catch a punt instead of trying to make the play. If Squid was healthy, there is a decent chance Perrish could have been cut for another CB who could come in off waivers. However, with the injury to Squid, it's unlikely Perrish will be let go.
Yikes. Mike, you couldn't have picked a worse time to play horrible. Nevertheless, backup LB Mike Mohammad played pretty poorly against the Cardinals. Mohammad missed some tackles, looked poor in coverage and looked slow in reading the offense. Mike had played okay up to this point, but now his future in Denver is in question. Mike could be cut over the next two days. His saving grace may be his ability to play all 3 linebacker positions. We will see what happens to Mike. If he gets cut, I would think Denver will try to stash him on the practice squad.
Robinson entered the pre season with an opportunity to make the team as a backup LB. Now, he'll be lucky to latch onto some team's practice squad. Robinson, for all intents and purposes, sucked last night. He missed tackles and took a horrible angle on a play that resulted in a Cardinal touchdown in the first half. He finished the game with 7 tackles, but don't be fooled. He'll be giving back his playbook over the next two games.
Entire Backup OL
I sincerely hope that we cut all of these guys and get new players to replace them all. The list includes Chris Clark, Herb Taylor, Russ Hochstein, Stanley Daniels, Manny Ramirez, Adam Grant, Jeff Byers, and Eric Olsen. All of these players have underperformed and I wish that we could pick up new players to replace them all. However, that likely won't happen and a couple of these players will probably stick. Either way, they all deserve Duds, particularly Manny Ramirez who seems to have a poorly snapped ball at least once a game.
I can't help but feel bad for Britt Davis. He dropped a single pass and that was the last memory the coaches will have to go on. He suffered a concussion against the Cardinals and was unable to go back into the game. While he was on the sidelines, Eron Riley lit it up and probably beat out Britt Davis for his spot. Davis' best shot of sticking with the Broncos is on the PS. We'll see what happens to him.
These two are competing for the same roster spot at the tight end position and what do they do? Green looked raw and couldn't hold onto any passes while Rosario's only stat was getting called for holding. I don't know who makes the team, but neither of these two players made the coaches choice easier based on their play on Thursday.
Lance Ball and Jeremiah Johnson
I touched on these two earlier, but it needs to be restated. Lance Ball had a pretty clear path on this roster. He looked great last week. All he needed to do was come out and play decently against Arizona's backups. Instead, he came out and made little to no impact at all. Ball needed to show up today and now he's in danger of being cut.
Jeremiah Johnson had coaches excited due to his performance in training camp as well as his touchdown run against the Cowboys in week 1. However, he has done absolutely nothing since that game. Johnson let his competition (Brandon Minor) get the best of him and that doesn't bode well for his chances.
Third Down Efficiency
This isn't as big of a deal because the starters weren't playing, but it needs to be stated. The Broncos offense was absolutely awful on 3rd downs. For the game, they were 2 of 11 on third downs. Ouch. Maybe that is why the game was so boring..
So now that the pre season is over, it's time to cut players. 27 players need to be cut for Denver to get to 53 and more then that will be cut because Denver will be scouring the waiver wire. Here are my final 53 after watching the pre season.
QB: Kyle Orton, Tim Tebow, Brady Quinn
FB: Spencer Larsen
WR1: Brandon Lloyd, Matthew Willis
WR2: Eddie Royal, Eric Decker, David Anderson
LT: Ryan Clady, *Waiver Wire*
LG: Zane Beadles, Russ Hochstein
C: J.D. Walton, *Waiver Wire*
RG: Chris Kuper, Stanley Daniels
RT: Orlando Franklin
LDE: Elvis Dumervil, Jason Hunter
DT: Broderick Bunkley, Marcus Thomas, Kevin Vickerson, *Waiver Wire*
RDE: Robert Ayers, Jeremy Jarmon
SLB: Von Miller, Mike Mohammad
WLB: DJ Williams, Wesley Woodyard
K: Matt Prater
LS: Lonnie Paxton
PUP: Demayrius Thomas
IR: Ty Warren, Syd'Quan Thompson
It was not too tough until it got to the final 50 players. Unfortunately, I do not believe Eron Riley will make the roster simply because David Anderson has shown he is a solid, reliable veteran who also has added value on Special Teams. Tough break for Riley. I also believe Ty Warren will be headed to the IR. Denver's depth is bad enough. We can't afford to keep a roster spot open with the hope that Warren will play for 3 or 4 games at the end of the year. Additionally, I have Syd'Quan Thompson going to the IR. That's just a hunch. We'll scour the waiver wire and pick up someone else to fill Warren and Squid's spot. I also cut Derrick Harvey in favor of an extra DT. The thinking here is that if our DE depth were to get scarce, we could activate a player like Jeremy Beal from the Practice Squad. Also, neither Jeremiah Johnson or Brandon Minor make the team or the Practice Squad. One player who I do have on the Practice Squad is Virgil Green who gets beaten out by Dan Gronkowski. I made this choice because Gronk is a much better blocker and is more polished overall.
In a perfect world, the following players would make it through waivers onto our Practice Squad
WR Eron Riley
WR D'Andre Goodwin
DE Jeremy Beal
TE Virgil Green
DT Mitch Unrein
CB Chris Harris
QB Adam Weber
OT Adam Grant
There you have it. Your weekly dose of Studs and Duds as well as a prediction for who makes the 53 man roster as well as the Practice Squad. The next two days will be crazy so stay tuned because the Broncos roster will look much different then it did against the Cardinals. Until next time, MHR.