Short Story: A few of you, maybe many of you, noticed my article with this same title that posted early Monday morning. That skeleton of a post was the unfortunate aftermath of a very long night full of writing and watching Broncos film. I had written what I believe to this day to be the greatest article I'd ever written. The kind of article I would show my children and then make their children memorize. The kind of article I would have imprinted on a T-shirt and worn to sushi bars and nightclubs and the occasional trip to the aquarium.
However, sometime after 2am (because nothing good happens after 2am) and the end of the fourth quarter Russell Wilson hijacked my internet like he did our second and third string defense and did away with all that work and posted my dusty old skeleton post I'd left up on a different computuer... a disaster I didn't discover till that next morning around 10am after having fitfully slept through nightmares of being chased by a bunch of Kregg Lumpkins dressed up like J. Alexander during Pride week.
So ended the short life of the greatest post I'd ever written. In memory, I write this post in tribute to that one that never made it. A tribute post that I will not print on T-shirts, make small children read or bring to a Hunger Games Premier. How sad. I know. I will, however, finish what I began and hope to capture whatever magic was left behind after a long night of watching terrible Broncos film at 1am.
I realize that we are gearing up for preseason week 3 against the Niners and the ship may have sailed on the top 5 players that increased their stock last week so I'll keep this somewhat brief. I do, however, think that this is an important topic to lead us into my top 5 players to watch for against the Niners post that will go up in a few days, as many of these names will look to once again stand out in a field of players that is about to get cut down.
Read on.5 Non-Starters Who Increased Their Stock
5. Caleb Hanie
This is called addition by subtraction. Osweiler had such a miserable game going 5/11 for 38 yards (a 3.5 avg) that the Broncos can't help but give Hanie another look. Hanie, whose job as the backup QB to Manning was in serious jeopardy when Osweiler stepped onto the field ahead of him with the 2's, saw his career as a Bronco get a second life during the 2nd half against the Seahawks.
Hanie is not on his ways to be anyone's star QB. His skills as a serviceable backup are under question and while one bad half on Osweiler's part doesn't guarantee him anything it just may give him one last shot to prove his worth as a backup QB that is a step or two above the rest of the free agent quarterback field.
4. Nate Irving
This makes it two weeks in a row that Nate Irving gets a nod for good performance. During a game where many of the team's non-starters struggled on defense Irving made some stand out plays, namely one on third and long play where he rushed the gap to stop Seahawks runningback Robert Turbin from busting out for another big gain.
Irving needs to continue to keep making these strides considering all the defensive depth the Broncos have sported in training camp seems to be struggling to stay healthy. If Irving is on the roster, and he will be, we need him to play on a new level.
3. Chris Harris
Initially I had this spot reserved for Mitch Unrein, who had himself a decent little game filling in for Bannan, but on my second and a half viewing of the Broncos game I changed my mind. Harris, who I had initially been frustrated with for dropping what looked like easy interceptions, was clearly the best CB on the field not named Champ Bailey. Harris not only made a case for why he may not make it as a wide receiver but a case for being useful in more situations than just his usual nickle package. Harris continues to impress me.
I'm confident Stokley has made this roster. While Manning continues to shake the rust off along with the entire offense Stokley continues to put himself in positions and run routes that turn into significant yards. I don't think there is any doubt who our #1 and #2 receivers are but there is definitely something to be said for the history between Manning and Stokley. Stokley seems to be pretty fearless heading across the middle of the field and willing to take a shot. I look forward to seeing how his role in the offense evolves as the season goes on. He may only be a 35-40 catch receiver this year, but those receptions will be critical.
1. David Bruton
Bruton stole the show on Saturday, and did so as a special teams player. His two blocked punts were so unexpected everyone had to take notice. Bruton's service with the Broncos has consisted primarily from his special teams play and without a doubt they will continue to remain there. Bruton proved last Saturday that, if his feat can be repeated again, he could be a considerable game-changer. The Broncos need as many game-changers as possible right now as they gear up for a run deep into the playoffs.
And there you have it. Five non-starting players that significantly increased their stock during a game where the entire second units value seemed to decrease faster than Facebook's IPO. Now that you've had a whole post to read what are your thoughts? Who made your top 5?