FIve Key Broncos Players to Watch Saturday Night Against San Francisco
It's the third pre-season game of the year, and in most cases the last chance for starters to see live action before the start of the season. Here's a look at five key Denver Broncos players to watch in Saturday night's game against San Francisco.
1. Peyton Manning
Will there ever be a time when we aren't intently watching closely to see what #18 does? Probably not, but the microscope will be zoomed in a notch or two in pre-season game #3. Manning didn't play in the first game,and in all likelihood won't play in the last one, so this is going to be his moment to show fans he has adapted to new coach Gary Kubiak's new offensive scheme. We shouldn't worry.
Manning played just 10 minutes last week, and certainly didn't set the world ablaze, in part due to dropped passes and penalties. We can expect things to look better this week, but don't expect perfection or anything close to it. That is probably weeks away at this point. What we hope to see is Manning looking comfortable under center, a connection with his receivers (minus Emmanuel Sanders who won't play)and to walk of the field without limping or holding his right arm.
With this week's signing of guard Evan Mathis, kicker Connor Barth was released, meaning the Broncos are trusting the leg of Brandon McManus to do the field goal kicking, those long extra points, and to get the kickoffs into the end zone as often as possible.There is no question that McManus has one of the strongest legs in the NFL, and there's no reason to think we won't continue to see the super long field goals that we have become accustomed to seeing from the liked of Jason Elam and Matt Prater. But, now, there's no one looking over the shoulder of McManus, and it's time for him to shine. But, will he?
3. Shane Ray
The Broncos' #1 draft pick has shown spurts of being something special. REALLY special. It looks like if he stays healthy he is going to be a key ingredient to the Denver defense for years to come. That's a big if.
The other issue is whether or not he can consistently perform at a high level that will put him at the same level as Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware. Keep your eye on #56.
4. Max Garcia
Max Garcia could be a mainstay of the Broncos offensive line, after being selected in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL draft. However, the Broncos signed one of the best guards in the NFL this week to fill the gap until Garcia is ready.
Evan Mathis is 33 y ears-old and clearly is not a long-term solution, but he won't play Saturday, which means the spotlight will be on Garcia. Is he good enough as a rookie that we don't really need the veteran Mathis? Is he better than anybody thinks? Is he a diamond in the rough that needs a couple of years to develop? Will there be a definitive improvement in the offensive line play at such time Coach Kubiak inserts Mathis into the starting line up?
The Broncos are very deep at running back with the emergence last season of C.J. Anderson, along with Ronnie Hillman, and another youngster Juwan Thompson. As a second round draft pick in 2013, the Broncos have had high hopes for Ball, and at the present time those hopes seem to be dimming. Ball finds himself battling for the back up spot with Hillman and Thompson, who was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2014. Ball probably feels like he should be the starter, but these next two games could go a long way in determining exactly what -if any -his future with the Denver Broncos will be.