NFL Preseason: Denver Broncos vs Chicago Bears Game Snapshot Preview

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 11: Willis McGahee #23 of the Denver Broncos carries the ball during the game against the Chicago Bears at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 11, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Denver Broncos @ Chicago Bears

Game Time: 6:30 Mountain Time

Kickoff Weather - 70 F - Chance of Thunderstorm

QUICK NOTES

  • Broncos QB Peyton Manning is rumored to play around 12 plays to as much as the first quarter depending on how the series go. Remember, the man has not played in over a year so I am sure he will want to feel good about his play.
  • Broncos G Chris Kuper has been very active in team drills and will travel with the team. However, he will not play as he continues to recover from his season ending injury from last season.
  • Broncos OLB DJ Williams is a game time decision. He did not play in the scrimmage or much in practice but could get his first action vs the Bears. Williams is suspended for the first 6 games of 2012.
  • The QB competition is still being listed as 2a 2b and 2c by head coach John Fox. Caleb Hanie is listed the highest on the depth chart followed by Brock Osweiler and Adam Weber. It will be a good battle to watch after PFM leaves the game.
  • Broncos DE Elvis Dumervil will not face charges of the assault with a weapon charges he potentially faced.
  • Demaryius Thomas had his best week of practice. With Eric Decker not being at 100%, Thomas stepped it up and found some chemistry with Manning.
  • Latest Super Bowl Odds have the Broncos at 16/1.
  • Justin Bannan is nursing a calf injury but coach Fox said if it was week 1, he could play. He is not travelling to Chicago so Kevin Vickerson will get a chance to show his stuff.
  • Bears LB Brian Urlacher will be out as he has missed practice the last week

STORY LINE OF THE GAME

The Broncos will face both former Broncos Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall for the first time as teammates. Cutler and Marshall both were traded from the Broncos after being disgruntled with coaches and management. Although neither will play a lot, wouldn't it be nice to see Champ shut down Brandon or Von Miller take Jay Cutler down?

Of course, the Broncos have a new addition of their own, quarterback Peyton Manning returns to the field after an 18-month absence. How long he plays will be at the forefront of everyone's mind, including VP John Elway.

"It's gonna come down to how much our first offensive line plays," Elway told NFL.com. "I asked (Manning) the other day, 'one or two series?' I think you get a feel for it during the game.

"If things go well right off the bat, have a nice scoring drive, then get him out. You wanna get something going to where they have a good drive. You don't want to have three three-and-outs. You wanna get some confidence, get some first downs, and maybe put some points on the board. If we do that, get him out, and go to the next week."

As for Manning, he just wants to see the offense get into a bit of a flow in limited time.

"Offensively, when we're in there, we just like to put some kind of execution together, " said Manning.

"We'd love to get a drive or two going. I've always said you love to get a bit of everything in the preseason if you can. You love to get some short-yardage work, some third-down conversions, [and] you get some red zone, [and] goal line. In all four games, if you can get all the situations that we work on out here, that would be ideal. So, however long we play, or whatever Coach Fox wants to do, we're good with. We just need to play well when we're out there."


BATTLE TO WATCH

Robert Ayers and Jason Hunter are a pair to watch as they compete for the strong side defensive end position. Defensive end Jack Del Rio had this to say about the competition.

Robert has talent. He's working hard. He's probably working harder than he has in a while. We'll just continue to let camp play out and let things sort themselves out But at this point, a week into it, Jason;s ha a stronger start to camp. That's all."

The running back position will be another position battle to keep and eye on. Willis McGahee is locked in as the starter and after him only rookie Ronnie Hillman is guaranteed a roster spot. Lance Ball who is listed second of the Broncos depth chart figures to get plenty of carries. Rookie Ronnie Hillman who is probably a game time decision is listed as third on the depth chart could see some 1st team reps if he plays. Former 1st round pick Knowshon Moreno, journeyman Xavier Omon and Jeremiah Johnson all need to impress Thursday night to help their chances of making the roster.

LAST TIME THEY MET

Denver 13

Chicago 10

The Broncos met the Bears late last season in what turned out to be a shocking comeback for the Broncos. Jay Cutler and Matt Forte were both out with injuries in which they faced current Bronco Caleb Hanie. The Broncos offense sputtered until minutes remained and they were able to mount an incredible comeback to send the game to overtime. In overtime, it looked as if the Broncos great comeback was all for nothing as Marion Barber broke through the defensive line and had room until a stretched out Elvis Dumervil was able to strip the ball out. The Broncos drove down the field to get into range and Matt Prater kicked for the win.

The series is split 7-7 all time between the Broncos and Bears.

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