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Broncos vs Texans preseason 2015: Winners and losers

Who are the winners and losers from last night's 14-10 victory over the Houston Texans.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Winners

Ty Sambrailo, Max Garcia, Matt Paradis, Louis Vasquez, and Ryan Harris:

Heading into last night's game I was worried about Peyton Manning getting hit by the Houston Texans defenders, but he went a quarter and a half without being touched by a defender. The Texans defense was without All-Pro defensive end J.J. Watt, but it was encouraging to see them protect Manning.

It's not a surprise that Manning never was once hit, sacked, rushed, or even touched by a Texans defender. He has always kept himself protected, and his quick decision making has always helped him.

Hopefully, this continues into the season. The Broncos will be facing Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil week one, and Justin Houston and Tamba Hali in week two.

Linebacker Brandon Marshall:

Marshall returned to the field for the first time after having foot surgery 5 months ago, and he looked good. He totaled 3 tackles in his preseason debut for the Broncos. He looked solid in the run game and showed speed and range in pass coverage.

It was promising to see Marshall who led the Broncos in tackles last season out there looking good. If his foot doesn't cause any setbacks in the coming days and weeks, he has a good chance to once again lead the Broncos in tackles.

Ronnie Hillman:

Hillman was the big winner in the first preseason game, and he continued his strong summer last night. The explosive running back totaled 54 yards on 8 carries. He also appeared to pass running back Montee Ball on the Broncos depth chart.

Head Coach Gary Kubiak said Hillman earned these reps.

"He’s moved himself up. He’s had a really good camp. He’s the guy in the group that has a little bit different – I don’t want to say talent; you know what I mean – the gear to get the ball to the edge so he’s responded, he’s had a really good camp. He deserves more reps and he’s playing like that he’s going to continue to get some more. But I thought all of them ran the ball pretty good with the opportunities that they had."

The Broncos appear to have a solid one-two punch in C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman. Both running backs figure to have career years in 2015.

Edge rushers Shaq Barrett and Shane Ray:

Both of the Broncos reserve edge rushers looked good last night.

Barrett continued his great summer by getting another sack and forced a fumble during last night's game. If Barrett can stay healthy through the next two weeks of practices and preseason game, he has a roster spot waiting for him.

The rookie Shane Ray looked impressive last night. He showed his electric first step, good run defense, and he got his first career NFL sack last night. He continues to improve after every practice and every game.

Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips:

The Broncos defensive coordinator has the Broncos defense looking great through the first two preseason games of the year. The Broncos first team defense was pitching a shutout through the first half last night, and they continue to get after the quarterback.

I know it's only the preseason, but Phillips looks like a big upgrade over Jack Del Rio.

Quarterback Trevor Siemian:

Both Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler had up and down nights, but the rookie quarterback continued to impress last night.

He went 7 for 10, for 89 yards and 1 game winning touchdown. The rookie showed poise leading a nice and long 4th quarter game winning drive.

Many of us questioned the Siemian pick in the seventh round, but he is making the doubters eat crow with a solid preseason. He's showing good zip with the ball, good accuracy, and decent mobility for a guy who is not even a year removed from an ACL injury.


Running back Montee Ball:

It wasn't a great night for the Broncos running back. First he was passed by teammate Ronnie Hillman in the pecking order at running back. Then he rushed the ball four times for 4 yards.


To me, Ball looks slow and doesn't have the burst or vision that both C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman have. To make things worse for Ball, the back behind him on the depth chart totaled 5 carries for 32 yards.

These next few weeks will be very important for the Broncos running back.

Safety/Return man Omar Bolden:

It was a rough night for the Broncos starting kick and punt return man. He did run backward's on one punt return and allowed another punt to be down inside the 5-yard line.

Bolden is a better player than what he showed last night. I still believe he is the Broncos punt return man when they take the field week one.

Broncos first team offense:

The Broncos offense looked a bit rusty last night. It was the first time that Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, and Owen Daniels all took the field together in 2015, and it showed. There was a few drops, a couple penalties, and few iffy throws by Manning.

Overall I'm not too concerned with this. It's the preseason and it happens. We have freaked out about Manning's performances in the preseason in year's prior, and he then goes out and drops 7 touchdowns on week one.

Gary Kubiak didn't seem too concerned with Manning but did wasn't pleased with their short yardage success last night.

'I’m very disappointed with what we’re doing right now short yardage wise. I think we’re one for five or something like that on third and one. That’s staying on the field, that’s 15 or 20 more plays. That’s the disappointing part. We’re trying to become more physical as a team. I think we did run the ball pretty good average wise, but you’ve got to stay on the field on third and one. I’ll go back and take a look."

The Broncos expect to rely heavily on the run game in 2015, so they need to improve on their short yardage plays going forward.