The Denver Broncos suffered a thoroughly demoralizing loss to the Buffalo Bills in the second week of the preseason, losing 42-15.

That defeat wasn’t as entirely negative as the final score might appear though, as one of the Broncos’ young rookies shined during the game.

Montrell Washington recorded over one-third of the team’s first-half passing yards; made a critical third down conversion over the middle of the field, with a safety bearing down on him; and continued to make big plays on special teams, averaging 27.5 yards per kick return — an elite average.

“Yeah, [Montrell Washington] did a good job,” Hackett said during a postgame press conference that saw him praise fewer players than normal. “I think we can block [those kick returns] even better. There are a couple [of] opportunities there, I think we’ll see on the tape. You have 10 guys running down there, if one guy misses [a block], that’s the difference between a touchdown and an explosive game like what he had. But he has done a great job and I’ll tell you, that catch he had on third down, that was a big boy catch versus very good defense. With the safety in the middle, he was fearless. So seeing that was great and breaking the tackle on the kickoff. I thought he was down, and he was rolling. That was great.”

Hackett did a good job of highlighting Washington’s two most impressive plays of the day.

On the Denver Broncos’ first drive of the game, facing a third-and-long, Johnson zipped a ball into Washington, between two converging defenders, and Washington held onto the ball through the contact. It was the best evidence we’ve seen so far of Washington being used as a legit NFL wide receiver.

However, not all of the Broncos rookies had strong performances, as one could probably assume from the scoreboard.

After a strong preseason Week 1, Nik Bonitto came back to earth a little in Week 2. Although the impressive flashes of his pass-rush ability were still present, he failed to show up in the box score and was drawn offsides by Buffalo’s quarterbacks.

“Whenever you’re a rookie coming into the NFL, there’s always going to be some difficulties and learning a new system and all those things,” Hackett said after the game. “He went against a couple of veteran quarterbacks today. So going against those guys, they know how to work the [snap] count. They know how to work him. They probably saw that he was trying to get off the ball quick and they got him a couple [of] times in those pre-snap penalties. Then that kind of affects you and then you lose some other things. But you know, he’s coming along fine. It’s one of those things—he is a rookie, and he’s got to work even harder to understand the system.”

Overall, although the performance was very disappointing, it shouldn’t be all doom and gloom for Denver Broncos fans.