As Troy talked about earlier, while for many fans the pre-season carries little weight and is generally disliked, it is incredibly important to players fighting for a roster spot. These are the players on the roster bubble, the #5 running back, the #6 defensive end, or the #4 tight end. To these players, they are limited in snaps in training camp and look to make an impact in their pre-season games.
Well on Thursday we got to see how some of these roster bubble players fared. These aren't the starters or backups who have their spots locked. So let's take a look at a few key players who either helped or hurt themselves.
Potential to Move Up:
Tight End Cornelius Ingram
Currently listed as the #6 TE on the Broncos depth chart, Ingram did his best to try and move above Anthony Miller or even Julius Thomas in the depth chart. Ingram, who is 6'4" and 240 pounds, showed some speed as well to go along with his size and had one very nice 20 yard reception to go along with some solid blocking against the Bears backups. Overall the fact he is healthy, productive and has the skill set to succeed.
Running Back Xavier Omon
The last ranked Broncos running back, Omon made the most of his chances by rushing 7 times for 36 yards and one touchdown. He also added one reception for another 4 yards. While hardly big numbers, he showed he shouldn't be an easy cut. The issue for him may be that no running back had a bad game, especially since Jeremiah Johnson and Knowshon Moreno had good games as well.
Defensive End Jeremy Beal
Jeremy Beal barely made the practice squad in 2011, but he had arguably the best game for any defensive player. Recording 2 sacks and 3 tackles, Beal made an impact from his first play on the field. He was active, constantly flying around the field and saw action from the outside linebacker and defensive end spots, all while looking good in the pass rush as well as against the run and in coverage. He's been pushing Cyril Obiozor and Jamie Blatnick in camp and looks to be the defensive end the team keeps beyond the top 4 that are locks.
Potential to Move Down:
Cornerback Ramzee Robinson
Already seen as a long shot to make the team, Robinson did nothing to help his stock. Literally, he did nothing, when the ball was thrown his way, he wasn't the first guy there, when he went to try and catch a runner, he was never able to get a good angle. Overall he made no impact and while Syd'Quan Thompson and Tony Carter didn't have breakout games, they easily outplayed Robinson for that last cornerback spot.
Most of the 2nd Team Offensive Line
Overall the 2nd team offensive line, which was headlined by Chris Clark, Adam Grant and Tony Hills, did little to push the starters in front of them, and actually looked worse when compared with 3rd stringers like Wuebblers. While I wouldn't say Hanie played outstanding, he sure didn't get much help from his line, he was being pressured on nearly every down. The same can be said for Knowshon Moreno and Lance Ball, who were the RB's who saw the most action behind the 2nd line. While neither blew people away, I counted two times for each back when the back got the ball, ran their designed direction and found his own teammates in the way.
Fullback Chris Gronkowski
He saw all his action with the 2nd team offensive line and did little to help. He had only a handful of snaps, almost all in terms of run blocking and in his every single of his run blocking snaps he only had one run go for positive yards, the other times he either missed a blitzer or just got moved aside. The bigger issue came from how well Austin Sylverster, who was seen blowing away a linebacker on Lance Ball's touchdown run. While neither saw a lot of snaps, in the limited time, Sylvester was more physical and was able to lay out blocks better. Oh and C. Gronkowski also suffered an injury to his groin which forced him to leave the game. An injury combined with a backup out performing him and him not actually producing solid run blocking isn't a recipe for success.
Now remember, this was just one pre-season game, but purely from this game, there were a few players who really helped themselves avoid the cut while others only seemed to hurt themselves.