Denver Broncos key storylines to watch versus Buffalo Bills

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Denver Broncos
Aug 13, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Brett Rypien (4) passes the ball in the second half against the Dallas Cowboys at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Ah, preseason. When the backups become heroes for just one night.

As the Denver Broncos prepare for their second preseason game, this time against the Buffalo Bills, several players should draw the spotlight.

Which players should fans keep their eye on this weekend?

Broncos backup quarterback competition still ongoing

Josh Johnson received the first start of the preseason at quarterback in the team’s 17-7 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1 of the NFL Preseason.

There’s a possibility he gets the start once again in Week 2, but Brett Rypien could get the opportunity to work with the second-team offense.

Johnson finished Saturday’s game against the Cowboys 16-23 passing for 172 yards and two touchdowns.

Rypien started the second half and finished the game 8-18 for 113 yards passing.

Looking at the box score can be deceptive as the Broncos determine who their second-string quarterback is behind Russell Wilson.

Both QBs had their moments, with Johnson’s two touchdown passes and Rypien leading the Denver offense on a 96-yard drive.

When asked whether or not the offense will split the workload between both players against the Bills, Broncos Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett said that he and his staff haven’t determined it quite yet.

“We really haven’t talked about that exactly,” Hackett said. “I think it’s for sure going to be split one way or the other. We just haven’t decided and made it definite on what we are going to do there yet.”

If it’s a true competition, Rypien should get the opportunity to play behind the second-team offensive line and wide receivers Kendall Hinton, Brandon Johnson, and Seth Williams.

Matt Henningsen looking to make the most of his opportunity

During Saturday’s win against the Cowboys, various young players stood out on tape.

Broncos rookie defensive lineman Matt Henningsen is one player who stood out.

Henningsen started the game on defense alongside McTelvin Agim, demonstrating flashes of pressuring the opposing quarterback and staying home in his gap assignment against the run.

He finished Saturday’s action with only one tackle but came close to sacking the quarterback.

Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett noted the progress Henningsen has made from OTAs to now.

“Very good. Very good,” Hackett said following Wednesday’s practice. “He’s another guy that had a little setback earlier in the offseason. He was out for a little bit. He’s bounced back. He just has to take advantage of some of his opportunities. We have been given him a hard time for that because he had some great opportunities in the game to get a couple sacks. He’s doing everything right. He’s a really smart player, and he’s put himself in the right positions. Now he’s just going to have to be able to finish it to take it to that next level.”

Can the Denver Broncos receiver depth continue to rise?

Going into Saturday’s game against the Bills, the Broncos receiver room consisting of Brandon Johnson, Kendall Hinton, Seth Williams, and Jalen Virgil will be under the microscope.

All four players had impact plays against the Cowboys in their Week 1 preseason victory.

With Courtland Sutton, KJ Hamler, Jerry Jeudy, and Montrell Washington projected as roster locks, the backend of the group will have another audition for two or potentially three of the final spots.

On Wednesday, Hackett shared that the team will be heavily dependent on these players to continue to impact the offense.

“Yeah, the guys that we have here are doing a great job,” Hackett said on Wednesday. “Our young guys are really stepping up. We have a lot of receivers; I think we still have 11 guys. There is a lot of guys that we’re dependent on to keep stepping up every day and we’re excited for their opportunity.”

If the Broncos were to keep seven total receivers on the active roster, Seth Williams and Jalen Virgil would seemingly compete for the final spot on the active roster.

Williams caught a touchdown pass from Johnson on Saturday, while Virgil had three catches for 83 yards including a 42-yard snag from Brett Rypien.

The Denver Broncos will take on the Buffalo Bills on Saturday at 11 a.m. MT on the NFL Network and locally on 9News.

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