In the preseason, and especially this early on, the reps are limited so one big play can make or break your chances of making the roster, especially when you’re one of the young players on the edge of the roster.
Here are five players that stood out from the rest with performances that might land them on the final roster:
Malik Reed was easily the best player on the defensive side of the ball for the Broncos, and arguably was the best player on the field Thursday Night.
Reed got through the line nearly unblocked to record the sack on Kurt Benkert just before the end of the first quarter. Malik Reed was also in on three other tackles, giving him the fourth-most combined tackles on the night.
He now has a good chance to make the final roster, but was a long shot before Thursday Night’s game. If Reed continues to wreak havoc he should be a shoo-in for the final roster.
If Reed was the best player on the defensive side of the ball, Muhammad was the best and most productive player on offense.
He led the Broncos in receptions, receiving yards, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns. Muhammad gained 74 yards from scrimmage on just 11 touches, the most on the team by a good margin. Muhammad also added 24 yards on his lone return of the night, bringing his total to 98 yards on 12 touches. The Broncos’ next best was Devontae Jackson who gained 26 yards on 12 touches.
The road to the final 53-man roster will be a tough one for Muhammad to navigate, but if he continues to play like this, Denver won’t have a choice but to keep him.
The Broncos’ star on the back-end of their stingy defense on Thursday was De’Vante Bausby, a product of the AAF.
Bausby led the now-defunct league in both pass breakups and interceptions before the league suspended operations, and he’s brought those cover skills to Denver with him. Of the Broncos’ cornerbacks, Bausby had the best training camp, which saw him rise up the depth chart and challenge Isaac Yiadom for the fourth cornerback job.
Bausby continued that effort in the Hall of Fame game, locking down opposing receivers and showing his physicality as a tackler. Even though Horace Richardson led the team in tackles, it was Bausby who was the Denver’s best cornerback.
Alexander Johnson stuffed the stat sheet for the Broncos, and also made some huge plays that won’t show up in the box score.
Johnson nearly had the Broncos’ fourth sack of the night and a forced fumble, when he wrapped Benkert up and knocked the ball out of his hand just after Benkert started moving his arm forward, making the play an incomplete pass.
He then saved the game for the Broncos when he broke up a Falcon touchdown pass late in the third quarter. The Falcons ended up having to settle for a field goal on that drive, which left the door open for the Broncos late 14-10 victory.
Johnson not only looked like a member of the final 53 on Thursday night but looked like he could eventually be a starter if given time to develop.
Winfree didn’t make a lot of plays in the preseason debut, but the one he did make couldn’t have been any better.
After dropping his first target of the night on just the second play of the game, Winfree was quiet for much of the night. In fact, he wasn’t targeted another time until the Broncos’ final offensive drive.
Then, on 4th and 14 with under two minutes to play, Juwann Winfree sealed the game for the Broncos, by going over his defender and securing an athletic, bobbling catch in the corner of the endzone.
Winfree has been the star of training camp at wide receiver and was arguably the star of the Hall of Fame game. At this point, it would be a shock if he doesn’t make the final roster as the fifth receiver at least.