5 Ways Broncos are Impacted by NFL's Reported Preseason Restructure

BobMorris

On Wednesday, news broke that the NFL is planning to reduce the 20 preseason to two games.

The reasoning, per ESPN's Kevin Seifert, is that players need more time to get into football shape. Players won't play the Week 1 games (canceled), will have three weeks to prepare for Week 2, then will play Week 3 and have no Week 4 games (canceled), with two weeks to prepare for the start of the regular season. 

It leaves the Denver Broncos with the Aug. 22 home game against the Chicago Bears and an away game at the Los Angeles Rams on Aug. 29. 

So how do these preseason changes affect the Broncos? Expect the following to happen.

• Veterans guaranteed starting jobs will play few, if any, snaps.

It's hard to imagine the likes of Von Miller, Justin Simmons, Todd Davis, and Kareem Jackson taking any snaps this preseason. Others who might not play at all are Bradley Chubb, Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant, Ja'Wuan James, Dalton Risner, and Alexander Johnson.

The same could apply to the new veterans expected to start, those being Melvin Gordon, Graham Glasgow, A.J. Bouye, and Jurrell Casey, even though they will enter a new system.

It could even apply to Drew Lock, despite him needing time to acclimate to a new offense. The starting quarterback job is his and the Broncos may want to keep him off the field during the preseason, rather than risk him to injury if the starting lineup isn't in full force, especially since he suffered a thumb injury in the preseason that cost him 11 weeks of his rookie year. 

• Other veterans might not play, either, if the Broncos are content with them in their roles.

Consider Garett Bolles, who was reportedly going to compete for Elijah Wilkinson for the left tackle job. Do the Broncos really want to go through with that with limited workouts?

Phillip Lindsay might not top the running back depth chart going into camp, but the Broncos know what he can do. The same thing can be said for Shelby Harris, even though his one-year deal might indicate he'll be competing for a starting spot.

And the Broncos might choose to keep Bryce Callahan — who missed all of the 2019 season with a foot injury — out of the preseason if the team is confident he can be the No. 2 cornerback. There might be others, too, whom the Broncos will choose to keep off the field, if they're confident about what role they'll play.

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• Rookies will take longer to acclimate to the NFL game.

The learning curve for rookies can be steep at some positions. That means you might not see as many Broncos rookies make an immediate impact.

Of course, there have been exceptions — a few rookies pick up on things quickly and are making big plays from the start. But in most cases, you don't really see what rookies can really do until later in the season.

So it's important to be patient with guys such as Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, and Lloyd Cushenberry, even as they are expected to play key roles.

• Veterans on the bubble are under more pressure.

The Broncos have a lot of tight ends on the roster and there's not enough room for them all. So the likes of Jeff Heuerman and Jake Butt will find it harder to make the final cut.

Some might ask why the Broncos don't just part ways with them now, but it's a wise move to keep them around in case somebody gets injured. But if everyone stays healthy, Heuerman and Butt will really have to impress.

The two incumbent tight ends aren't the only ones on notice. DeMarcus Walker, Christian Covington, Isaac Yiadom, and Royce Freeman are among the players who really need to stand out in whatever snaps they can get.

For veterans who don't make the cut with the Broncos, they'll hope for the chance to sign with other teams. But with fewer preseason games, that means fewer chances to make an impression.

• There's a reduced chance of training camp surprises.

If there's one thing Broncos fans love about the preseason, it's finding out what undrafted rookie or former practice squad player makes a good impression and earns a roster spot.

But with fewer preseason games, that's fewer chances for those guys to make that key play that proves they deserve a spot on the roster.

That doesn't mean there won't be any Cinderella stories this preseason. But trying to become one isn't going to be as easy as it was in previous seasons.

What if there's no preseason?

Some players have hinted that the preseason might be reduced to one game, or not played at all. If that's the case, certain veterans on the roster bubble are as good as gone, while it's going to be even harder for an undrafted rookie or former practice squad player to make a splash.

I understand that player safety is paramount and the concerns about COVID-19 spread are legitimate. However, eliminating the preseason could lead to certain veterans on the bubble not even getting the chance to show what they can do, especially if teams think a younger, cheaper player can do their job just as well.

For veterans, it's not just about a chance to stick with their current teams, but a chance to show other teams what they can do, in the hopes they'll find another team should they be released. That's particularly true of younger players such as the aforementioned Walker, Butt, and Freeman who are still on rookie contracts.

But preseason or no preseason, it's going to be a different NFL season, simply because players have had fewer opportunities for offseason work. In some cases, it may take more time for players to gel as a team.

Considering the Broncos have a new offensive coordinator and many new additions, fans might not see the team at its best to start the season. The potential is there for the Broncos to be very good this season, but patience will be key.

Follow Bob on Twitter @BobMorrisSports and @MileHighHuddle. 

Comments (11)
No. 1-9
Mike303
Mike303

DeMarcus Walker will make the roster he played really well last season cause he was back at his original position. Vance joseph really screwed up trying to make him stand up as a linebacker. But once he was back on the line last season he put up 4 sacks and 5 tackles for loss in very limited snaps so i think he will make it and make a push for Parcells snaps and maybe even Shelby Harris's snaps also cause Walker is 300 pounds so he can slide inside or play the end ive been rooting for him since we drafted him and hes going to hit his stride and im betting he will be starting next season.

Dylanrocks
Dylanrocks

Any news on fans in the stands?

Dylanrocks
Dylanrocks

How about setting up socially distanced spaces in parking lots with screens outside stadium? Put together prepackaged game food hot dog, popcorn, pretzels etc. sell on line with team logo, program. Make the price reasonable ( it is a recession). Sell masks with team logo. All at stadium should wear them. so much you can do here.

Dylanrocks
Dylanrocks

Should nationally televised games. We are dying for sports. At least put in Direct tv package without asking for more money

Dylanrocks
Dylanrocks

Make it simple no masks no entry. A ticket to participate is a license that You, the proprietors of the event have the right to turn people away. There is legal language such as that on the back of every entertainment ticket sold. Use it and more importantly ENFORCE it. You aren’t taking away civil rights if someone isn’t following the rules in tour place of business.

Dylanrocks
Dylanrocks

Make no mistake spitting and coughing on someone is assault today: first degree because they did purposely and thought about it before they did. They yet “you are violating my constitutional rights“ you can yell right back “you assaulted me with your preplanned spit and coughing I’m gonna go get a cop and have you arrested“

RBA
RBA

Wouldn't it make sense for the NFL to allow teams to have a larger practice squad if they are going to cut the time for players to show their skills? Maybe they could expand them to 15 or more even. This especially since some players are going to miss playing time if/when they contact the coronavirus during the season and have to sit out a couple weeks to recuperate as well as a subsequent quarantine period.

jimtaylor
jimtaylor

People need to be prepared for the possibility of no NFL this year or at least a much reduced NFL. I don't want to admit it but I look at the data every day and the liability on the NFL may be too great.

I work for a company that has access to a significant amount of real-time US healthcare claims data. Using that we've been able to build a predictive model that looks at potential problem areas. Without some pretty drastic changes, this isn't going away any time soon.

Luke  Patterson
Luke Patterson

Nice work Bob! Like the rest of the NFL community, I'm very concerned for the on field product with the elimination of two pre-season games. While nobody particularly enjoys to watch all four pre-season games, they are important for emerging and developing players. Now more than ever, reps are rare and extremely valuable!


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