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Broncos vs Cardinals: 6 winners, 3 losers from the final preseason game

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Here are the players who made the roster decisions for John Elway a little tougher ... and a little easier.

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NFL: Denver Broncos at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The last preseason game is always a mix of emotions.

Fans know the game is meaningless, but in the same refrain, it means so much to the guys who want to keep their dream alive. In that sense, it at least gives the game some intrigue.

After Thursday night’s 21-10 win against the Arizona Cardinals, here are the players who made the roster decisions for John Elway and the Denver Broncos a little tougher. This also includes the guys who didn’t help themselves.

Winners

Team health

The Broncos made it out of Phoenix and the preseason without injuries to major contributors. That is a major win, especially when you see the daily list of players from across the NFL who’ve seen their seasons end.

Now it’s on to the regular season. The next time Denver takes the field, the games matter.

De’Angelo Henderson

Henderson had a helluva game for the Broncos. As was the case last season, he’s fun to watch carry the ball. He’s patient, makes one cut and trusts his vision. Henderson is also a strong ball carrier.

There was talk this week that Denver may look to deal him, I hope that’s not the case. It also makes you wonder what Henderson needs to do to move up the depth chart. Hopefully Elway and the Broncos keep Henderson on the roster.

Su’a Cravens

Denver wanted to see what Cravens could do from his safety position. After Thursday night, it’s safe to say he’s shown that he can make an impact on defense. He was fun to watch in the first half.

In the process, the initial excitement fans felt when the Broncos traded for Cravens is back.

Jeff Holland

After a strong start to training camp and the preseason, Holland hasn’t been mentioned the last few weeks. As one of the guys on the “bubble,” the undrafted free agent needed to leave his mark.

At the very least, Holland made the decision what to do with him more difficult. He finished with a sack, tackle for loss and recovered a fumble. What’s nice is to see is no Bradley Chubb or Von Miller, no problem. The Orange Rush is still in effect for the Broncos. It’s also the latest indication fans need to get and rock this awesome Orange Rush shirt.

Paxton Lynch (and his trade value?)

I’m not one who thinks Elway and Denver should waste a roster spot on the quarterback, but he played pretty well. Of course, you then have to mention he did it against guys who won’t be in the league in 48 hours. Still, it may have been enough to convince the Broncos to stick with him. Here’s hoping that isn’t the case, and Elway is able to convince a team this performance is enough to give up a draft pick.

Special teams

This is more for the totality of the preseason, but the until was strong once again against Arizona. If the special teams carries this over to the regular season, Denver will be that much harder to defeat.

Losers

Brendan Langley

The second-year cornerback didn’t have his name mentioned until Steve Levy and Brian Griese said on the local 9News broadcast said they hadn’t talked about him. Then with around 5 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Langley was in on a play. Not a great way to stick around on the roster, especially after Denver signs Adam Jones. For Langley to stick around, it’ll likely be on the practice squad.

David Williams

The rookie running back needed a strong game if he wanted to stick around on the 53-man roster. He didn’t do that on Thursday. That’s not to say he didn’t have a good game, but he clearly didn’t do enough to take a spot from another running back. Whether Elway, the front office and the coaches have seen enough to try to get Williams on the practice squad, we’ll find out over the next two days. When you add how great Henderson looked, it was a tough night for Williams.

Isaiah McKenzie

He had some flashes, but Jones now on the team as a returner and defensive back makes him expendable.