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Instant reaction: Which Broncos’ players had a good night against Falcons?

These guys stood out for better or worse during the Denver Broncos 14-10 preseason victory over the Atlanta Falcons in the Pro Football Hall-of-Fame Game.

NFL: Pro Football Hall of Fame Game-Atlanta Falcons vs Denver Broncos
Khalfani Muhammad looked dynamic. Drew Lock? Not so much.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Before I ramble too much, one big caveat. I plan to re-watch the game when it hits NFL Game Pass and flesh out a longer draft with the benefit of slow motion, rewind and hot coffee.

As I mentioned in my post earlier today, the score of the game doesn’t matter - even if Juwann Winfree’s first NFL touchdown was awesome.

There were a lot of big moments mixed in with the things people may overreact to. Here are my first impressions.

Big deal - Justin Hollins’ versatility

Officially Justin Hollins is an edge rusher, but since OTAs, we’ve known that Fangio and the coaching staff envision so much more for the fifth-round pick out of Oregon. I noticed him bursting off the edge and drawing help from the back. He was in space. He mashed at the point of attack.

He looked every bit as good as I could have hoped.

No big deal - Drew Lock’s performance

Leading up to the game there’s been a lot of discussion that Kevin Hogan is a waste of time and Lock and Brett Rypien should eat all of the reps. Hopefully the rookies’ first games woke you up to the fact that they are still adjusting to the speed of the NFL, and that they’re both still figuring out how to make NFL throws.

In Lock’s case this isn’t even surprising. Even before the Broncos drafted him, I mentioned how he’d need to completely refine his mechanics. Guess what, they were sloppy in spots. He still needs time.

Big deal - Malik Reed

Reed was my early pick for Denver’s next Phillip Lindsay: an undrafted rookie who finds his way to making the roster. He’s an exciting, albeit undersized, pass rusher.

One of the big questions he’ll face going forward is how he can hold up in space and against the run, but if Fangio is looking for a situational pass rusher, Reed looks as promising as any on the current roster.

No big deal - Shamarko Thomas’ sack

I’ll spend some more time on this one tomorrow, but it sure looked like Thomas didn’t pick up his assignment on the Falcons’ touchdown.

Correction: Working through the TD this morning and I made a mistake last night, it was 36, not 38 who looks like they missed picking up the back. Sorry Shamarko!

Big deal - Garett Bolles didn’t play much

Keep this in mind the next time someone tries to say he’s going to lose his job.

It sure looks like Fangio was speaking the truth when he voiced support for the Broncos’ left tackle.

No big deal? - Jeff Holland’s playing time

Early on I made note of the fact that Holland showed off a quick first step as he chased the ball down from the backside. Outside of his offside penalty, it sure looked like Holland was one of the better players early in the first quarter.

As the game wore on, I didn’t notice him making big plays so much as the fact that his 46 jersey kind of catches your eye. He’s a guy I plan to focus on because I’m curious how he held up with so many reps.

My early theory is that he played in part because the Broncos’ edge rotation consisted of him, Reed, Ahmad Gooden, and Aaron Wallace. He played the Khalil Mack role by and large while the other guys were rotating around in coverage and the edge.

Big deal - Broncos football is back

It may be a sloppy preseason game where quarterbacks combined for all of 112 yards passing, but it sure beats baseball.