Good morning, Broncos Country!
The Broncos are one day away from their third preseason game, arguably the most important for the starters who will likely see their last chance to get “game ready” before Week 1 when they next see the field.
But for the rookies and the players on the bubble, Saturday’s game with the Packers will be a second-to-last opportunity to prove they deserve a spot somewhere on the 53-man roster.
And a very tight roster at that.
Vance Joseph joked with reporters Thursday not to ask about the roster because “I’ll tell you in a week and a half. Why would you guess?” he said, laughing. “Isn’t it easier for me to just tell you?”
But the coach actually did give away a few hints about who will make the final cut – leaving it open for great speculation on who will not.
Breathe easy, Andy Janovich fans.
VJ on Andy Janovich: "Some teams have fullbacks and some teams don’t. We have one, and he’s a pretty good one, so we’re going to use him."— Jon Heath (@JonHeathNFL) August 24, 2017
“Hammerhead” has made an impression on the new coaching staff, allaying any fears that in a passing league with a pass-heavy offensive coordinator, a good fullback would have no place on this team.
“Some teams have fullbacks and some teams don’t. We have one, and he’s a pretty good one, so we’re going to use him,” Joseph said. “Outside of that, he’s good for Brock [Olivo]. That’s huge for him to be a core-team’s player. …He’s a really good fullback. He’s important to our football team.”
A few weeks ago, special teams coach Brock Olivo noted his extreme appreciation for Jano.
“Jano - love Jano. Jano to me, if we had 22 Janos we would be alright,” Olivo said. “He's tough, he never says a word and never complains. He just does his job. He's the first one in the meeting every day. He's on it Xs and Os-wise. He knows what to do, he's tough and he finishes. I love the guy if you could tell. He's going to be a four-phaser for us. He's a really good football player.”
In an interview with denverbroncos.com’s Aric DiLalla, Janovich also said all the right things for this crowd.
The second-year pro and fan-favorite - who ended his 2016 season early due to injury after a promising start - said nothing is that different for him the second time around.
“[It’s the] same mentality - just go downhill, hit linebackers and win games,” Janovich said. “It’s pretty simple.”
Though the former Husker did note that he has a more varied role under Mike McCoy’s system.
“There’s a lot more formations that I’m put in, a little bit more in the pass game. But the run is fairly the same,” he said, adding that he’s not usually a guy asked to run a whole bunch of routes. “So working on that’s a little different for me.”
Nearby in the tailback room, things are a lot more crowded as several backs may be vying for only one or two positions, including NFL’s leading yards-per-carry running back Jamaal Charles, rookie standout De’Angelo Henderson, solid veteran Stevan Ridley and consistent playmaker Juwan Thompson.
This weekend will be a big test for Charles’ durability, to see if his explosiveness can be put on display throughout the season. If so, the other three could be fighting for a very contested fourth spot. And at this point, the coaches expect Charles “to be the same old Jamaal.”
“You see flashes of it, you do,” said special teams coach Brock Olivo, who coached with the Chiefs while Charles was there. “He’s the definition of juice, and I see it out here, I do. So I’m excited to see Jamaal play again. It’s going to be fun.”
One back whose roster spot is apparently safe is second-year back Devontae Booker. Joseph noted that despite a wrist injury that will keep Booker out for the first two or three games of the regular season, the former Utah Ute will not go on the PUP list as many speculated.
“Book should be on the [53-man] roster. That should not be an issue,” the coach said. “Book is on the roster. Does that help you? I’ll give you a sheet in a week and a half.”
Rookie wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie had been named over a week ago as the starting punt returner for Week 1 – despite three more games to play – but kick returner is still somewhat open.
Kick returner position is up for grabs during the #Broncos third preseason game. Cody Latimer is the front runner, according to Brock Olivo— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensBSN) August 24, 2017
Special teams coach Brock Olivo expects that player to be fourth-year wide receiver Cody Latimer, but he’s hoping to see Latimer get a kickoff in an upcoming preseason game.
“[Cody] has been the guy since we got here, but he hasn’t had a return yet in the offseason or in the preseason. We have to give him some returns, some touches and let’s see what he does with it,” Olivo noted.
On the defensive side of the ball, Joseph gave little roster info away other than to note that the fourth cornerback spot is not going to be easy to decide.
“It’s been a good battle. Obviously, Chris [Lewis-Harris] has made some plays. I think [Brendan] Langley is a young promising player. [Lorenzo] Doss had a hell of a camp,” he said. “It’s going to be tight. That’s the way that it should be.”
But that doesn’t mean it’s any easier as a coach making those decisions.
“It’s tough. It’s a tough league. There is pressure every day and every week on these guys so I respect that,” he said. “To watch these guys compete every day and don’t get what they want, it’s heartbreaking sometimes.”
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Which player do you expect to have a BIG game on Saturday?
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Von Miller (he’s PLAYING!!!)