Every game has its interesting matchups. The preseason is especially interesting with evaluation of so many players happening and the process of cycling through the layers of the depth chart through the course of the game. Let’s take a look at some players with something to prove tomorrow when the Broncos take the field to face the Chicago Bears.
Broncos Secondary vs Bears Passing Offense
This is a little broad, but it’d get a bit repetitive to write about Mitch Trubisky vs the Broncos’ secondary, then Allen Robinson vs the Broncos’ secondary, and then Trey Burton vs the... you get the idea. For the first time in quite a while, there appears to be some cause for concern about Denver’s defensive backfield. Can Bradley Roby step up into Aqib Talib’s role? Can Tramaine Brock and Isaac Yiadom fill the hole that leaves at CB3? Have the Broncos finally addressed the longstanding weakness vs tight ends & running backs in the passing game? We won’t get answers to those questions tomorrrow, not full ones. But we’ll get some evidence to weigh, and it’s certainly something to watch.
That said, there’s a caveat here. Chris Harris Jr & Su’a Cravens both missed significant practice time this week. If Harris in particular doesn’t play, then we’re really just evaluating the team’s depth in this game, not the starting unit.
Case Keenum vs the Bears
We saw so little of Keenum vs the Vikings, so it’ll be good to see him hopefully throw more than just a literal handful of passes this weekend. Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, & Courtland Sutton vs the Bears’ cornerbacks, as individual matchups, should be very one-sided in favor of the Broncos. Can Keenum take advantage of that? Will he lead sustained drives and make good decisions with the football?
After the last two seasons, you can’t really blame any Broncos fan who wants a bit more assurance of that.
Jeff Heuerman & Jake Butt vs Bears Linebackers/Secondary
Owen Daniels retired after the 2015 season and apparently took the concept of effective Broncos tight ends with him. We’ve had a strong week of practice from a healthy Jeff Heuerman, with the talented Jake Butt in the mix as well. Neither saw a target last weekend and that needs to change vs the Bears. The tight end position needs to start producing to match the promise we’re seeing at WR and RB.
Bradley Chubb & Jeff Holland vs Bears Offensive Line
Miller & company should be on your to-watch list every week this season, because they should absolutely tear it up. It’ll be nice if Miller plays vs the Bears, though it’s understandable if the team holds him out. He’s got nothing to prove this preseason. But keep an eye out for another hopefully strong performance from rookies Bradley Chubb & Jeff Holland.
Chad Kelly vs the Bears’ 2s
Chad Kelly played with enough skill & fire vs the Vikings to earn himself a promotion. How quickly can he build a rapport with his new cast of 2nd string receivers? And can he sustain the encouraging play from last week now that the competition has been raised a level?
Last week, Kelly took Paxton Lynch’s job. Tomorrow marks the official opening of his two to three game window to defend his new position from a potential veteran acquisition.
Paxton Lynch vs the Bears’ 3s
Last week vs the Vikings, Paxton Lynch played with... well, with his usual manner. Now he’s fallen to the bottom of the depth chart and his future with the Broncos is very much in doubt. It’s time for him to start putting up some good tape and prove that he can at least outclass a bunch of guys who mostly won’t even make it to a practice squad. That’d be best for him and his career, and also for the Broncos’ ability to do the best thing they can for his career by trading him away.
If he doesn’t dominate at this lowest level of NFL competition, though? Yikes.
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