Who rose and who fell in Denver’s preseason opener

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We may not see the changes on the depth chart ahead of the second preseason game, but there were certainly some players who rose and fell during Thursday night’s preseason opener for the Denver Broncos.

We asked the morning crew at Mile High Sports AM 1340 | FM 104.7 who bolstered their case for a spot on the roster or a starting job, and who needs to step it up in San Francisco.

David Hurlbut – The Morning Huddle, M-F 6a-7a

Rose… Rookie running back De’Angelo Henderson looked like the reincarnation of Maurice Jone Drew (they are within a half-inch and three pounds of each other). He showed us that with the injuries above him on the depth chart,  he’s ready to pounce.

Fell… Rookie wide receiver / kick returner Carlos Henderson clearly was feeling some nerves, but protecting the ball is paramount in this league. It’s pretty obvious you can’t cough up two kickoffs. He got lucky with the bounces last night. Maybe not so much the next time. He must correct this immediately.

Nate Lundy – Mornings at 5280′, M-F 7a-9a

Rose… Wide receiver / kick returner Cody Latimer‘s night couldn’t have gone much better. He was a perfect 7-for-7 for 54 yards and moved the chains multiple times. Not only that, he was finding separation and making tough catches. He didn’t return any kicks, but after a pair of muffs from Carlos Henderson, he may have locked up the job by default.

Fell… Quarterback Paxton Lynch had every opportunity to take a step forward in the QB battle after Trevor Siemian put up only three points on three drives. Lynch, however, only moved the ball into Chicago territory once in four attempts. He was slow on reads and missing receivers, to boot.

Shawn Drotar – Mornings at 5280′, M-F 7a-9a

Rose… Outside linebacker Kasim Edebali was pressed into a starting role with the injury to Shane Ray, but showed he should be more than capable of filling that role and then a depth role when Ray eventually returns. His pressure on Mike Glennon helped produce Chris Harris‘ pick-six on the opening drive.

Fell… Left guard Max Garcia is in stiff competition with late free-agent acquisition Allen Barbre for the starting spot, and may have opened the door for the former Eagle to get a start next week. Garcia wasn’t great in pass coverage and took a costly holding penalty. His roster spot shouldn’t be in question, but his starting gig might be.

TJ Carpenter – Mornings at 5280′, M-F 7a-9a

Rose… Rookie wide receiver / punt returner Isaiah McKenzie had Denver’s longest play of the game, a 47-yard touchdown pass to tie the game. He had an assist on some blown coverage by Chicago, but you can’t fault him for that. His one punt return wasn’t spectacular, just five yards, but his play on offense was better than expected.

Fell… Defensive end Billy Winn quite literally fell, suffering a knee injury in a pileup. Winn will be evaluated on Friday, but the early fear is that he suffered an ACL tear. It’s a big blow for the depth on the defensive line.

Editor’s Picks

Rose… Wide receiver / returner Kalif Raymond seemed to be the odd man out after Head Coach Vance Joseph gave Isaiah McKenzie the starting punt return job during camp. However, the second-year man from Holy Cross had a big night, pulling in a 24-yard reception and putting up a pair of impressive returns. Raymond took a kickoff 41 yards and a punt back 34; both returns resulted in points for Denver.

Fell… Free-agent cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris has been under the radar during camp, but his name was called frequently on Thursday night. Unfortunately, it was because Bears rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky was picking on him with regularity.

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