ENGLEWOOD – Teddy Bridgewater smiled and nodded. This is how he celebrated winning the starting quarterback position when asked by the media on Wednesday.
That calm explains why, in part, he will become the Broncos’ fifth different starting quarterback in five years on Open Day. Bridgewater follows Trevor Siemian, Case Keenum, Joe Flacco and Drew Lock.
When Bridgewater takes the first snap on September 12 against the Giants, he will represent Vic Fangio’s seventh starter in his first 33 games. Only John McKay with the expanding Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchise has had more with eight, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
In this context, Bridgewater will look to overcome the bad slippage of four consecutive losing seasons and five years without the playoffs. It starts in earnest on Saturday night as the starters receive additional reps in the home preseason final against the Rams, who will play substitutes.
With Von, Courtland Sutton and Melvin Gordon making their debuts, and backup jobs in play at the receiver, cornerback and offensive line, my things to watch out for in Denver7:
Teddy bear time
For a team going 0-7 in September, with the offense deserving the lion’s share of the blame, there is a compelling case for playing the starters. Bridgewater could use full reps with those from consecutive weeks. The Broncos need to establish the race to ease the burden on Bridgewater. One connection to watch out for is Teddy to Jerry Jeudy. They were synchronized all camp. I expect that to continue this season.
Von Miller waited until his debut on natural turf, but noted that the first two games are played on turf. He is fully recovered from surgery to repair a dislocated ankle tendon. He dominated against the Vikings in joint training, so this stage should give him a clear head against the Giants. This could be Von’s last season in Denver. Or he could bounce back with 10 to 15 sacks and create a path to end his career with the Broncos.
While I can argue that Von doesn’t need to play in the preseason, Sutton, for me, needs reps. He admits he wants to make cuts, blocks and get attacked in the games. final stages of her recovery after ACL surgery. He seemed reluctant to let it go systematically in practice. I can’t wait to see Sutton, who told me on Thursday that he won’t be arguing for a game account in Game 1, even though he could be placed on one. I think it’s fair to temper expectations of the first regular season games, much like Bradley Chubb a year ago.
Follow the line
The starting group of the offensive line remains defined: left tackle Garett Bolles, left guard Dalton Risner, center Lloyd Cushenberry, right guard Graham Glasgow and right tackle Bobby Massie. Can Massie show he belongs in the lineup? And if so, who will fill the reserve roles? Quinn Meinerz is a lock with Calvin Anderson, the swing tackle, and Netane Muti, a scheming guard. Meinerz has shown potential at guard but remains a work in progress at center. Does this pave the way for Austin Schlottmann to make it a backup? With Anderson’s versatility, I don’t see a path for Cam Fleming or Quinn Bailey to the final roster.
Feel the draft
General Manager George Paton seems to have found oil with his top two picks. Cornerback Patrick Surtain is bursting with star potential. And while I would have taken Justin Fields, Paton has stuck with that painting, and Surtain’s role will grow in importance this season and all beyond. Javonte Williams runs with violent intentions. He will have an impact even as a replacement for Melvin Gordon. Third round Meinerz and inside linebacker Baron Browning showcase a talented header. Safety Caden Sterns has opened their eyes with his lineup, and there hasn’t been a better story in camp than seventh-round outside linebacker Jonathon Cooper, who got a backup job.
That leaves fifth-round safety Jamar Johnson, due to the emergence of Sterns, sixth-round receiver Seth Williams, due to the depth of the position, and seventh-round cornerback Kay Vincent and winger. defensive Marquiss Spencer on the bubble. Spencer will have a hard time getting there, even if I would put him on the practice squad. Vincent’s elite track speed makes it more likely that he will be claimed on waivers.
The Broncos need better. Enough said. Beyond kicker Brandon McManus, there isn’t enough consistency. Coverage units have been patchy at best and bad at worst. Can some of these young players find solace in special teams, like linebackers Barrington Wade and Curtis Robinson?
Receipt and dispatch
The Broncos boast a depth of reception, which is why Williams is not guaranteed to stay. Trinity Benson has turned heads with her speed and could find a role in the cover crews. As of now, Diontae Spencer is the punt returner. I would keep it, but there will be a tough decision between Williams and Benson.