The Denver Broncos officially embark on their season Friday night when they travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks. The first of four preseason games will not feature many of the team’s starters, including Chris Harris Jr., Peyton Manning and DeMarcus Ware. That will give opportunities to the young roster that the Broncos will rely on this season.

Three players in particular will be under the microscope Friday night and for good reason. Brock Osweiler, Shane Ray and Ty Sambrailo have a chance to showcase their skills to the coaching staff against a formidable roster. After receiving praise in training camp, these three will have to prove their worth against a opponent.

Brock Osweiler

Osweiler is potentially the Broncos quarterback of the future. That will all depend on his 2015-16 season. He is in the final year of his rookie contract and knowing the team hopes that they will not need him in the regular season, his tryout for big dollars may only come in the preseason.

Since Gary Kubiak’s arrival, Osweiler has gotten increased plays in the offseason practices and in training camp. Kubiak knows what it is like to be a backup quarterback and he mentioned what he will be looking for from Osweiler Friday night.

“I think you just want to see him run the team,” Kubiak said August 3. “It’s a growing process for him, but I think he’s handling it really well. Being a guy who’s done that job for a living, when the team gets thrown your way, that’s a lot on your plate—you have to be able to handle it. I think he’s showing his teammates day in and day out that he’s preparing to do that.”

Osweiler has stated several times that he is pleased with his progress this off season and the increased playing time. No he must prove he is ready to consistently run the offense in actual games. By all accounts he has been a great teammate and he understands that he is playing behind a Hall of Fame quarterback but he also knows he needs to perform every time he gets an opportunity.

“It’s something that I’ve thought about ever since I’ve been drafted. You grow up dreaming of playing in the National Football League. Just to have the opportunity to be here—obviously, you want to be out on the field playing—but as you all know, I came into a very special situation. The one thing I’ve done on a daily basis is made sure that I’ve made the most of that situation, soaking in what I can get from Peyton while he’s here. I’m sure my time will come at some point in time and I’ll be ready for that.”

No backup quarterback in the entire league will be approaching preseason will so much on the line as Osweiler. It will be interesting to see if he can handle the pressure during his limited time in the spotlight.

Shane Ray

Ray has been a dynamic player in training camp but has been slightly behind due to a turf toe injury he suffered in January. He will be the primary pass rusher in Friday’s contest and will have a lot of people watching him due to his first-round selection in the NFL draft this year. Von Miller and Ware have been mentoring Ray by example and in the film room. Kubiak and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips are excited to get him ready to contribute this season as a rookie.

“I think that it’s been up and down. I think that the first thing is that Shane was behind a little bit physically because of the missed time. I think that he’s caught up on that,” Kubiak said Wednesday. “Now he watches two great players ahead of him every day so he’s trying to catch up to those two guys. That can be a little overwhelming sometimes for a rookie, but he’s fixing to play a lot of football and I think that he’s settled down.”

If Ray can catch up with his peers and become the threat most people believe he can be in his first season, the Broncos can rest Miller and more importantly, Ware in order to keep them fresh throughout the grueling season.

Ty Sambrailo

Sambrailo was selected 59th overall in the 20156 NFL Draft probably with the idea that he would have one to two seasons to learn to play left tackle behind one of the league’s best, Ryan Clady. That idea was simply not meant to be. An injury took Clady out of the equation and thrust Sambrailo into the starting job. He has earned it in the short offseason and worked with the first-string offensive line throughout training camp. Friday he will play in his first NFL game as he faces an experienced line. Kubiak has been pleased with the former Colorado State Ram since his arrival in May.

“I think he’s doing a hell of a job for as young as he is. He has to come a long way. He has to get much better. He’s not really going to have a chance to be a rookie for long, you know what I mean? That’s tough expectations, but he’s handled himself like a pro. He’s very bright, it’s not too big for him and he’s a worker, so he’s got all those things going for him. He just needs to continue to work against good people.”

Those good people have been mostly the veteran Ware at practice. Ware has taken it upon himself to help the rookie along with tips and suggestions throughout the team’s practices. Friday he will get no such help from the Seahawks.

Offensive line coach Clancy Barone was clear Wednesday on what he hopes to see from the youth on his line Friday, against Seattle.

“I want to see them execute on a high level. I want to see them make all the right calls up front and adjust to the looks that we haven’t been able to show them.”

Sambrailo will be playing next to another rookie starter, Max Garcia and second year player Matt Paradis, who didn’t suit up for one regular season game last year. No other players will be facing the scrutiny that they will up front. Mistakes are to be expected but Manning will need to have confidence in those three guys in four short weeks.

Friday is certainly still just a dress rehearsal. The real games are weeks ahead. With that said, these three players must progress and show that they have the potential to be starters. Seattle is their first chance to show that their good performances in camp can translate to actual game time.

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