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At 3-0, Broncos owning the preseason ... especially that Defense

But it's not about the preseason, is it? Definitely not. But it's nice to see the potential.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Broncos Country!

It's always nice to look at stats and analyze how they actually played out during a game.

But when it comes to analyzing, I'm more of a words person, so I'm going to do the totally unfair thing and "analyze" (or, um, maybe just read between the lines) what players said after the Broncos' 19-12 come-from-behind-in-the-knick-of-time win over the 49ers.

That seems totally fair as we look ahead to the final preseason game and into the beginning of football that actually counts, doesn't it?

Good, because in the myriad of interviews following the game, there were some interesting comments that need not be left out of our post-game reviews/upcoming game previews.

It's about owning the season, not the preseason.

So have we beat the proverbial "It's just preseason" horse to death, yet? (quick, who's got the gif?)

One of the best statements from Saturday's game ironically (or not) came from 49ers' quarterback Colin Kaepernick who was asked if he were concerned about his offensive line.

Given their offseason offensive line woes, and that the 49ers offense was held to just four field goals on the night, and the first team unit could only muster three first downs in the first half, it wasn't a crazy question (even if obvious).

Kap's answer should be the answer from just about every player after every NFL game that occurs before Week 1 (except maybe by a Raider, but that's a different post):

"There's not any concern on this team. That's what the preseason is for, is to work those things out and see who we have in different positions. So, that's what we're doing and we're working to make sure we're ready for the regular season." - Colin Kaepernick

"...see who we have in different positions...working to make sure we're ready..."

This is a very smart comment from what appears to be a maturing quarterback.

Peyton Manning and the offense are gauging where they are in the learning curve, which is thankfully an upward moving curve.

I was a competitive gymnast growing up, and my favorite meet of the year was the intrasquad before season started because that was the one I threw all my new tricks to gauge "where I was" in the learning curve and being ready for competition.

Peyton Manning and the offense are gauging where they are in the learning curve - and it has no doubt been a curve, but thankfully an upward-moving one. Starting with four punts on four drives and converting just one third down against Houston, Manning and his offense finished Saturday night with 14 first downs including a 6-of-8 third-down conversion rate.

Manning and Gary Kubiak have been testing a whole new combination of plays and players in a very few quarters of football to see what works. And while they'll both need more time before Week 1 to get it all figured out, the trajectory of this curve is looking good. No need to panic.

Brock Osweiler is owning this team

"I think the difference between the third and fourth quarter is just getting in a rhythm. Once we did that, I think we did some good things. But, really the offensive line played lights out tonight. They did some really good things for us pass protection [and the] run game. The (running) backs did a great job, especially on check downs. Obviously the receivers made plays when they needed to. We did some really, really good things tonight, but obviously there are some things we need to clean up and we will before Baltimore." - Brock Osweiler

Our backup is talking like a starter, and I like that mentality. (*editor's note: do NOT take this as an invitation for a quarterback controversy discussion. That would be stupid).

He has shown a ton of improvement in his play since Kubiak came to town, and like many Broncos fans, I feel much more confident in his ability to lead this team whenever his number is called.

Kubiak and players have commented after practices that Osweiler is commanding the huddle, and it is showing - both on and off the field.

Cody Latimer needs to own his play

"You're supposed to catch everything and the ball is supposed to be perfect every time, but in reality, we know that's not going to happen. It's football. People make good plays, but we'll get it down. That's why we're here. We're professionals. We're here to make plays, so we'll get it down." - Cody Latimer

Latimer is my guy (after all, we're practically related). I've interviewed him and defended his ability, despite not having much actual evidence to base that on other than hype from two preseasons. Heck, I even drafted him for my MHR fantasy football team, so I'm invested in this guy.

But my boy needs to own up to Saturday's game. He showed a lot of maturity this offseason by admitting to not being prepared enough to play last year and has spent a lot of time studying and learning the plays.

Last week, Kubiak said everything is in place for Latimer to be a big contributor and now he has to go out "and make big plays."

Latimer had several opportunities on Saturday for those big plays, and he came up short every time. No, the ball wasn't perfectly thrown every time, but that's the NFL. When you are a 6-foot-3, 215-pound receiver who can knock down defensive backs, your job is to go up and get the ball, not wait for it to drop perfectly into your hands.

Shaq Barrett is just owning...everything.

There were no quotes from Barrett after the game, but Pro Football Focus spoke volumes:

Barrett played a total of 58 snaps on Saturday night - 43 on defense and 15 on special teams - according to Andrew Mason, and he had three tackles, including one for a loss, to show for it.

But as the PFF rankings show, he has been dominating OLBs all preseason.

pff barrett

Sure, it's only preseason, but the former Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year has made his presence known on this Wade Phillips-run defense, and I think we can expect more great things to come.

Horse Tracks

Despite sacks Broncos still want Peyton Manning taking snaps directly under center
Gary Kubiak believes the problems that resulted in rushers coming clean three times against the Denver offensive line can be fixed.

Danny Trevathan shakes rust off in return
With Danny Trevathan's 2015 debut, the Broncos got their first glimpse of their complete interior linebacking corps.

Sundays with Sacco: Cut-down days
Pretty soon the Broncos and the rest of the NFL teams will cull their rosters down to 75 players, but the tough process is nothing to celebrate.

Next-Day Notebook: Norwood making his mark in the slot
After Saturday's preseason win over the 49ers, post-game reflections cover Jordan Norwood improving his game, the second-team offense's strides and Shane Ray's sack dance.

Broncos' Von Miller shows he is more than ready for regular season - Denver Broncos Blog - ESPN
Some highs and lows in terms of individual performances from the Denver Broncos 19-12 victory over the San Francisco 49ers Saturday night.

Denver's defense could be the best in the NFL - The Denver Post
The Broncos' defense was sold on Wade Phillips before he installed his 3-4 alignment.

Jordan Norwood is, again, close to making the Broncos' roster - The Denver Post
After an injury ended his 2014 season before it ever started, Jordan Norwood is on the cusp of landing one of the final receiving spots on the Broncos' 2015 roster.

Emmanuel Sanders to be used on punt returns?
Coach Gary Kubiak said Saturday that Emmanuel Sanders "could be a great, great punt returner."

Peyton Manning: 'We're still very much figuring out who we are' - Denver Broncos Blog - ESPN
The Denver Broncos looked like they couldn't protect Peyton Manning on Saturday and Manning looked less than comfortable in the new playbook.

Montee Ball's long, hot summer has resulted in slide down Denver Bronc - Denver Broncos Blog - ESPN
Former starter Montee Ball is the Broncos' fourth-leading rusher this preseason on just 16 carries.

Denver Broncos want more from Cody Latimer before season opener - Denver Broncos Blog - ESPN
Cody Latimer has flashed at times in two preseason games, but he has just five catches in the two games combined. Will the Broncos see more from him?

Cardinals Reverse Offense Against Raiders
Starters struggle but backups rally in a 30-23 win in Oakland.

Khalil Mack stars on good night for Raiders defense | ProFootballTalk
The third preseason game is often called a dress rehearsal for the regular season. If that's true of the Raiders-Cardinals game on Sunday night, Khalil Mack is going to steal the show in 2015.

Big Return For Cariel Brooks
Notes: Okafor ups his run defense; Chris Johnson has to sit again.

Cardinals vs. Raiders final score: Carson Palmer struggles, Logan Thomas leads Cardinals to 30-23 Arizona win - Revenge of the Birds
The team got the win, but there were issues on the offensive line.

With next court date coming, no momentum toward Brady settlement | ProFootballTalk
On Monday, the NFL and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady return to court for a third -- and presumably final -- hearing regarding the legality of the four-game suspension imposed in May on Brady. While Judge Richard M.

Raiders' Menelik Watson ruptures Achilles tendon -
Derek Carr has lost a key member of his offensive line. His starting right tackle, Menelik Watson, tweeted that he ruptured his Achilles tendon during the Raiders' preseason loss to the Cardinals.

Pete Carroll 'frustrated' by offense, but not worried -
While coach Pete Carroll isn't pleased with his struggling first-string unit, he assured fretting Seahawks fans that the sky is not falling.

NFL Roster Cuts Tracker -
Tim Jennings won't be playing for the Bears this season. The veteran cornerback was released by Chicago on Sunday as teams trimmed their rosters. Keep track of the latest player cuts here.

Chicago Bears cut veteran cornerback Tim Jennings -
The Chicago Bears have informed cornerback Tim Jennings that he's been released, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported. Can the nine-year veteran find a new team soon?

Minnesota Vikings cut Brandon Bostick, Joe Banyard -
The Vikings announced that they cut tight end Brandon Bostick on Sunday, along with 11 other players as they whittle their roster down prior to Tuesday's deadline.