1. Brock Osweiler:
With Peyton Manning sitting out the preseason opener, backup quarterback Brock Osweiler will get the start and figures to see the majority of work at quarterback.
Even though this is the first preseason game for the Broncos, it will be an important start for Osweiler. He is in the final year of his rookie contract, and Denver Broncos General Manager John Elway said that they would evaluate him off his play during Training Camp and the Preseason.
"We’ll evaluate him through training camp and evaluate him through preseason. I think that he got a lot of reps this offseason and we saw what he could do in practice, so we’ll do the best we can to try to evaluate him. We’ll cross that road when we get there."
How he performs against the Seattle Seahawks defense in Seattle could go a long way in either helping or hurting his chances of earning a contract extension from the Broncos.
2. The offensive line:
The Denver Broncos offensive line has three first-time starters. Two rookies, and one first-year player who spent all of us last season on the team's practice squad.
So I expect we will see center Matt Paradis and rookies Ty Sambrailo and guard Max Garcia getting plenty of reps during the game. These three have very limited playing time with each other, so any live reps they can get with each other will be important.
I don't think we will see much of Louis Vasquez and Ryan Harris, maybe a series or two at most. This means guys like Ben Garland, Gino Gradkowski, Michael Schofield, Chris Clark, and Shelley Smith will be seeing plenty of playing time. All four players are fighting for a roster spot, so a good or bad performance could go a long way in them making or not making the roster.
3. The running backs:
Two years ago C.J. Anderson had a breakout performance against the San Francisco 49ers, and last season Juwan Thompson had a breakout performance against the Seattle Seahawks. Which running back will breakout on Friday?
I don't think we will see a ton of C.J. Anderson. Possibly a series or two.
The other three backs(Ball, Hillman, and Thompson) figure to see plenty of reps. Montee Ball will be the one back I am looking forward to seeing the most. After a lost 2014 season, he needs a bounce back showing in 2015. Having a good showing tomorrow would be a nice start.
Ronnie Hillman has been having a great Training Camp and has been pushing for the number two spot. If Ball disappoints, Hillman can take over that second spot. It would be nice to see the explosive Hillman break off a long run or two.
Juwan Thompson had a breakout performance against these same Seattle Seahawks last season. I think he will have similar success this year. The powerful runner could really help himself having a showing like he did last year.
I would look for Kapri Bibbs and Jeremy Stewart to get some fourth quarter works. Bibbs was a touchdown machine during last season's preseason, and Stewart has looked good at times during the preseason. Both are on the outside looking in currently,
4. The defense/Shane Ray:
This will be our first look at Wade Phillips defense. I doubt we will see a ton of Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward, Aqib Talib, and a handful of other veterans. This means players like Shane Ray, Bradley Roby, Lorenzo Doss, Kenny Anunike, Darius Kilgo, Todd Davis, and Omar Bolden will have their chance to shine.
The three guys I am looking forward to seeing the most are Shane Ray, Kenny Anunuke, and Lorenzo Doss.
The Denver Broncos spent a first-round pick on Shane Ray during this past year's NFL Draft. He has had an up and down Training Camp, but a good showing could really boost his confidence. I'm anxious to see Ray's explosiveness and I think he will get a sack or two.
Kenny Anunike was a breakout star last season before suffering an arm injury. I'm anxious to see how Anunike looks with the added weight and playing a different position. He has been consistently disrupting plays in Broncos practice, and I expect to see the same from him on Friday.
Finally Lorenzo Doss. The Broncos spent a fifth-round pick on the cornerback who is known for his ball-hawking skills. I am hoping to see those skills show during the game, and hopefully we can see an interception from Doss.
5. Breakout stars:
During every preseason, there are usually one or two breakout stars on each team. Last season it was Juwan Thompson and Kenny Anunike. Who will it be this year?
- Jordan Taylor: Taylor has been having a great Training Camp thus far. The 6'5" receiver is a deep threat and I think we could see him haul in a few deep bombs from Brock Osweiler.
- Joe Don Duncan: The fullback/tight end is already a fan favorite, and his popularity could grow if he has a good game tomorrow. Whether it's a big block, a touchdown, or a hit on special teams. He figures to get plenty of reps.
- Zaire Anderson: The 5'11", 220lb linebacker has been earning praise from coach Kubiak and could see plenty of snaps. Anderson was a tackling machine in college, so I'm anxious to see how he does.
- Trevor Siemian: The seventh round pick was a head scratcher by many, but has been showing well during Camp. He's listed as the fourth quarterback on the roster so he might not get a ton of work. However, if he shows better than Zac Dysert his spot on the depth chart could change.
- Solomon Patton: He might be the fastest player on the team and is fighting for a roster spot. He will get looks at both return spots and at receiver. He needs a good showing to help his chances at making the roster.
- Corey Nelson: The second-year linebacker is climbing the depth chart, and will get plenty of snaps tomorrow. He played well in limited action last season, and I expect him to do the same tomorrow.
Who do you think will be the breakout star tomorrow?