Several Broncos stand out in first preseason action

Jul 28, 2018; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Chad Kelly (6) hands the ball off to running back Royce Freeman (37) during drills on the first day of training camp at UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos had several stand out performances in their first preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings Saturday night.

While it was a quite night for several starters due to lack of playing time, many offensive players deeper down the depth chart stood out and collected high scores from Pro Football Focus.

Second-year quarterback Chad Kelly was the most impressive signal-caller on the night and he was a threat inside a clean pocket, completing 11-of-16 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown, resulting in a passer rating of 118.2 – the tenth-best mark among qualifying quarterbacks this week, according to Pro Football Focus.

Also performing well for the Broncos running the ball was Royce Freeman. Freeman rushed for 38 yards on only four carries, with his big run a 23 yard touchdown, bouncing it outside to the right in the second quarter.

While Devontae Booker was named the starter after the initial depth chart was released earlier in the week, Freeman is making a case for the starting position already and certainly his vision, shifty hard-nosed style was on display Saturday.

Players on the offensive line protecting Kelly in Max Garcia and Sam Jones also both impressed at guard, with not a single single quarterback pressure across their 24 combined pass-blocking snaps. Garcia performed well in the run game and his combined efforts earned an offensive grade of 81.5, which was the 11th best mark among guards this week, according to PFF.

The Broncos also saw stand out performances from safety Darian Stewart where in the run game defense, Stewart tallied two tackles, two assisted tackles and one defensive stop on his seven run defense snaps. He also performed well in coverage, allowing just one reception for seven yards on two targets. His performance against the Vikings earned an elite defensive grade of 90.5 – the third-best grade among safeties this week.

Rookie Josey Jewell played a part in Denver’s defense against the run, grading out as the sixth best player on the Broncos against the run (75.2) and the best linebacker in that category. The Iowa product drafted in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft took the top spot on the team as far as tackling goes and ranked as the third-best linebacker on defense on Saturday.

Broncos second-year — now defensive lineman — Demarcus Walker also graded well, ranking near the top five in most defensive categories, including second on the team in pass rush with a 73.1 ranking.

Shelby Harris had a productive night on Denver’s defensive line as he tallied one quarterback hurry and a batted pass from 10 pass-rushing snaps. He also provided one defensive stop and two tackles on his 16 defensive snaps against the run and didn’t miss a tackle in the game.

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