A couple of great things are happening on Thursday. For one, it is the end of the brutal, boring and way-too-long preseason. And two, it marks seven days until actual, real-life football.
Unfortunately, Thursday night will be the last time a handful of guys ever suit up as a professional in the National Football League, while it’ll secure a year in the NFL and a pretty penny(s) for the guys who do well enough to make the 53-man roster.
Not that any round of cuts is easy for a team or a head coach — as Gary Kubiak said on Tuesday, that part of the job “is miserable” — but the first 15 players cut outside of punter Britton Colquitt were all expected. I mean, Kyle Roberts is going to forever be on Mark Sanchez‘s hit list for giving up the sacks that led to his fumbles in game two.
The next round, however, when the team cuts down from 75 to 53, comes on September 4th and will be much tougher. The Broncos will tell 22 men that their dream is now over, at least in this town. So, who’s on the bubble? Who should you be watching Thursday night?
We will start on offense. Remember, though, not making the 53 man roster doesn’t mean you won’t be a part of the Denver Broncos; 10 men will also make up the practice squad.
Here’s who’s on the roster bubble heading into Denver’s final preseason game:
Jordan Taylor had another pretty good camp but lacked big playmaking in the preseason. The team will likely put him on the practice squad and continue to watch his development. Likewise, Mose Frazier had a few decent days at camp but didn’t do much during the limited time he got in games. Kalif Raymond was given opportunities at special teams, but didn’t do enough to make the team in my opinion.
Running back is obvious if you’ve been watching. Ronnie Hillman, Kapri Bibbs and Juwan Thompson are all competing for a roster spot. One will get to stay, likely be Hillman or Bibbs. Hillman is the frontrunner but him not playing much special teams could hurt him if it’s close in the coaches’ eyes.
The Broncos will not keep four tight ends, so keep an eye on Henry Krieger-Coble and John Phillips who could make a case for themselves if Jeff Heuerman can’t do much due to another injury.
There are battles going on inside of the offensive line, but as bad as that unit was last year, they could use as many bodies as the roster will allow.
Henry Melton, Lars Koht and Kyle Peko are interior defensive linemen to keep an eye on. With injuries taking a toll on the line early in training camp, much like the offensive line, as much depth there is best.
The Broncos are stacked at linebacker, and Dekoda Watson has done enough to make this team. Unfortunately, for Eddie Yarbrough, Sadat Sulleyman, Vontarrius Dora, Dwayne Norman and Kyle Kragen, I don’t believe they’ve done enough to make the team.
Much like Linebacker, the Broncos are stacked in the secondary, as well. Lorenzo Doss was the star of training camp on that side of the ball. He seemed to be Mark Sanchez’s favorite target early on. He will make the team, as will Taurean Nixon. I don’t believe that will be the case for at least two of B.J. Lowery, John Tidwell and Ryan Murphy.
The final game of the preseason is the final audition for a lot of guys in the NFL. Fail and you’re off to find a regular job with the rest of us, but pass and all your dreams come true — If your dream is to make a lot of money to practice hard and have sideline seats for 16 NFL games.