Good morning, Broncos Country!
Last night's canceled Hall of Fame game was a huge tease for the beginning of 2016 NFL football, and I have to admit that despite it being the right call for player safety, it was definitely a letdown.
But after a week paying more attention to the surf than football anyway, I found that watching Simone Biles rock her vault like nobody's business and Katy Ledecky and Michael Phelps get gold in swimming was a good way to ease back in to my sports viewing anyway.
But now I'm definitely ready for some football, and we'll get that in four days when the Denver Broncos play the Chicago Broncos (I mean, Bears) in the Windy City on Thursday night.
And with no more Peyton Manning plus tons of competition for second and third spots in key position groups this season, the Broncos' preseason games will be hugely revealing - if not far more interesting - than recent years.
Obviously, the competition at quarterback is the major question to answer. And despite daily probes on who will start and what coach Gary Kubiak thinks of each QB, the coach's only promise so far is that he's still thinking on it.
"I am going to make a decision on what we are going to do next Thursday in Chicago, and I haven't even come close to doing that yet," Kubiak said after Saturday's practice, adding that he's looking for his signal callers to be themselves, to be confident and mostly to be aggressive.
"I want them to go make plays," Kubiak said. "Obviously the responsibility of protecting the game, not just the ball, but the game is part of their position. You have to be a good decision maker. We're working on those things with all three of them."
Mark Sanchez seemed to be the clear leader in Kubiak's eyes as No. 6 got more reps with the Ones last week than Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch, but Sanchez' struggles to move the offense at times and his two pick-sixes have kept this competition a dead heat as the first preseason game approaches.
"I can tell you right now, as a coach, one of the things I'm coaching Mark on is when plays get extended, sometimes plays get long and some of his decision process needs to be better," Kubiak said. "That's something we are working on."
With Siemian, Kubiak sees a confident kid, a second-year player with a strong arm who knows his stuff but is still learning when to make certain throws.
"He spins it really good and has the ability to get the ball down the field. He is understanding when to give guys chances, back shoulder balls, things like that," Kubiak said. "That's just him improving as we go."
While Lynch may be on a fast track to be the backup - or soon-to-be starter - Kubes and the offense are mostly looking for consistency with the rookie. Andrew Mason pointed out in his recent Mailbag that Lynch has made a lot of progress playing under center since OTAs, so the young gun is continuing to develop quickly.
"Perhaps the best sign to me is how he can drop back and get set from under center - with pressure bearing down on him," Mase wrote. "Being able to drop back from under center and look downfield while not tipping your intention is more difficult than it appears. Lynch's progress cannot be understated...but he also has a long way to go."
Barring injury, all three QBs are expected to play. https://t.co/RF2ggQ44lg— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) August 7, 2016
Kubiak promised a depth chart later today, but you can bet it is a very fluid chart in his mind as he plans to use Thursday's game as a major factor in final analysis - which is still weeks away.
"We'll have something for you, I know that," the coach said Saturday. "I think they are all doing good stuff. Our practices are very competitive. We do a lot of good things offensively. ...I think we are very competitive. That's a good thing."
And that's what John Elway believes as well. In a multi-part feature in the Denver Post this weekend, the GM said he asks himself every new season, "did we get better as a football team?"
Despite the questions at quarterback, he believes the Broncos definitely did.
"It may not look as good from the outside as people want it to look," Elway told the Post. "But we feel pretty good about how it looks from the inside. We feel good about that spot in the years to come and of what Mark can do."
Although Elway's praise of Sanchez climaxed with "sufficient and adequate" - adjectives you'd prefer to use for your water boy than your quarterback - Elway is very comfortable with the team's approach to building a squad that can vie for a back-to-back championship.
"The overall philosophy I'm proud of — play great defense and continue to try to get better on the offensive side."
And thankfully we're only days away from finding out just how much better that side will be this season.
Horse Tracks - docllv's picks of the week
John Elway reflects on tenure as Broncos GM, five years into the job
In John Elway’s 21-year tenure as a Hall of Fame quarterback turned executive, the Broncos have undergone multiple identity shifts, most of which decorate his museum of an office.
Skimboarding phenom Austin Keen aiming to boost sport to the next level
This has almost nothing to do with the Broncos, but there is a comparison of Austin Keen to Peyton Manning. Plus, this is a docllv special about another world champ (whose skimboarding camp her sons attended), and, dude, he's really cool.
Mason's Mailbag: Where the O-line stands at Broncos training camp, and more
Andrew Mason offers all kinds of great insight here...especially for those craving all things O-line.
Denver Broncos poised to get Aqib Talib back, hope Ty Sambrailo close
The Broncos expect to get cornerback Aqib Talib cleared to practice next week, and guard Ty Sambrailo is making some progress as well.
Bennie Fowler latest from Broncos' practice squad to earn key role - Denver Broncos Blog- ESPN
Success in the playoffs last season has given Bennie Fowler a springboard to earn a meaningful role in the Denver Broncos' offense.
Denver Broncos finding themselves as they move on from Peyton Manning - Denver Broncos Blog- ESPN
There's no question Emmanuel Sanders and the Broncos miss having Peyton Manning around, but they know they have to turn that page.
John Elway: Only Peyton could replace Tim Tebow - NFL.com
John Elway understands how popular Tim Tebow was during his tenure in Denver, and Peyton Manning was perhaps the only player capable of diverting fans from the lure of Tebowmania.
Denver's Britton Colquitt latest to bash Justin Tucker - NFL.com
The Broncos' special teams unit has thrown the challenge flag on Justin Tucker after the Ravens kicker said he could nail an 84-yard field goal in pristine conditions in Denver.
Denver Broncos continue to mix and match at guard because of injuries - Denver Broncos Blog- ESPN
The Broncos have been able to take a look in at offensive linemen who had previously been a little deeper on the depth chart.
Demaryius Thomas wants to show 'what I'm really about' - Denver Broncos Blog- ESPN
In addition to improving on his stats from a year ago, Demaryius Thomas is eager to take on a greater leadership role this season.
Sundays with Sacco: A closer look at the Hall of Fame
Jim Saccomano takes a closer look at the Pro Football Hall of Fame and picks out some Broncos who may have a chance for induction in the future.
Reilly Fox's life-changing WE Day with Von Miller
In part of the WE Movement empowering young people to change the world, Von Miller invited Reilly Fox, the first girl to play varsity football at Paschal High School in Fort Worth, Texas, to Broncos headquarters for her WE Day.
NFL Power Rankings: Cardinals, Steelers top 2016 list | SI.com
From the Cardinals and Steelers at the top to the 49ers and Titans at the bottom, here's how all 32 NFL teams stack up ahead of the first preseason games this week.
Hall of Fame game canceled due to field concerns - NFL.com
The Hall of Fame game between the Packers and Colts has been canceled due to poor field conditions. NFL Media's Steve Wyche reports that the midfield logo was painted and it was slick and hard, according to several team officials.
Thomas Rawls passes physical, off PUP for Seahawks - NFL.com
The Seattle Seahawks received some good news Sunday. Running back Thomas Rawls passed his physical and was taken off the physically unable to perform list.
Julian Edelman of New England Patriots taken off PUP list
Julian Edelman, who underwent offseason surgery on his left foot, was removed from the PUP list and practiced with the Patriots on Sunday.
Drew Brees bothered by 'rough day' at training camp - NFL.com
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees didn't have the best Saturday. He was intercepted so many times that it might have been the worst training camp session of his career.
Early signs encouraging for Cleveland Browns QB Robert Griffin III - Cleveland Browns Blog- ESPN
Robert Griffin III has looked good in Browns camp while trying to revive his career as a starting QB, but the next test will be preseason games.
Bosa’s mom regrets not “pulling an Eli Manning” | ProFootballTalk
Whatever you may think of this situation, just be happy the Broncos don't have their No. 1 draft pick still unsigned.