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Keenum and his wideouts excited to test their chemistry in a game

If practice is the classroom, then the game is the laboratory. Time to see what develops.

Casey Barrett - Mile High Report

Good morning, Broncos Country!

Case Keenum will play his first game as a Bronco on Saturday, and he’s anxious to get to it.

“I’ve got a lot of things that I’m really excited about,” he said Wednesday. “For me, I’m probably going to have to make sure I take deep breaths and calm myself down, don’t get too excited.”

Facing his previous team, the man half-responsible for the Minnesota Miracle promises there’ll be nothing but love for his former employer.

Except, Keenum also has no plans to let the Vikes win.

“I love all of those guys,” he said. “But it’s still a competition on Saturday. I know those guys are going to be jacked to get back on the field just like I’m jacked to get back on the field. ...We want to drive down the field, I want to score touchdowns. ...I’m excited to get back out there.”

Although this is certainly not Keenum’s first NFL game, it is his first season as the bonafide starter on his team - and that means his goals are slightly different heading into the first preseason game. It’s not about proving himself as much as it is about learning about his offense.

“I wouldn’t say I’ve set goals for Saturday yet, except for the goals that we set every day - taking care of the football, stringing together some drives, converting on third down and moving the ball,” No. 4 said. “I think whatever we do, I want to progress as an offense. You never really know what situations you’re going to come up into. I’m excited to see what it is. I don’t know what it’s going to be, but we’re going to learn something and we’re going to get better on Saturday.”

One of the things the coaches hope to learn will be which receivers will be legit threats on the field in a game.

Coach Vance Joseph has been impressed with his rookie receivers Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton plus second-year player River Cracraft - who filled in for “the 1s” since Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders had a vet day off.

“It wasn’t much drop-off as far as knowing what to do, and that’s important. Obviously, those two guys are talented, so if ‘88’ and ‘10’ go down, I think we’re in good shape there with ‘14’ (Sutton) and ‘17’ (Hamilton),” Joseph said.

But perhaps having learned from last year, the coach noted that it’s only been practice so far.

“Again, it’s practice, it’s scripted plays and a controlled environment, so we’ll see on Saturday how our young guys improve.”

Keenum has certainly been impressed with his litany of wideouts to choose from in the huddle because he knows as well as anyone that it’s always a “next man up” mentality in the NFL.

“I’ve been around long enough to know that it’s the 11 guys in that huddle. It doesn’t matter what your role, title or whatever you may be designated as in the depth chart. It’s those 11 guys competing against the other 11 guys,” he said. “Sometimes you’re not rolling with the same guys you normally do, and you need other guys to step up and make plays. We’ve got to be confident in everybody that is on that offensive side of the ball.”

And so far Keenum seems pretty confident.

Speaking of his starters, Keenum couldn’t heap enough praise.

“I don’t know how they’ve been advertised...but man they’re playing their butts off. I’m excited to come out on the field every day and get better with them because each day it seems like we’re finding out little new nuances of plays and routes and different ways of running things,” Keenum said. “How they think and what they’re seeing, it’s been a blast.”

Cracraft - “CrayCray” as Keenum is hoping will become the wideout’s nickname - has been a pleasant surprise backup and a “friendly target.”

“He’s doing really well. I like throwing him the ball,” Keenum said. “He’s learning too. I think you like having a guy like that, you can move inside, outside, shifty. He’s got good separation at the top of his routes.”

Both Sutton and Hamilton are looking forward to taking what they’ve learned in practice into the game experience.

“Really that’s why we practice — to take the things that we did on the practice field and basically just multiply that and do it at a higher intensity on game days,” said Hamilton, who has consistently been one of the first guys out on the practice field every day.

Sutton says he pumped about playing his first NFL game, but he doesn’t want to get too much of an adrenaline rush.

“Definitely excited, but I’m going into it like it’s another day at the office,” he said. “I’ll go out there and do what I’m supposed to do and do my job for the team, because ultimately that’s the whole goal - to show that the things that have been going on in practice aren’t a fluke and we are going to be a really good contender. We have weapons all over. Just go out and execute.”

Horse Tracks - docllv’s pick of the day

Demaryius Thomas reinvigorated by radical lifestyle change -
Denver Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas -- whose injury issues once had him thinking about retirement -- talks to James Palmer about a reinvigorating radical lifestyle shift.

More importantly, as my friend Nick Kendall (whose only fault is being a Hawkeyes fan) said:

Horse Tracks

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