The Denver Broncos will face off with the Seattle Seahawks away tonight for their second preseason game. The game will begin at 8 PM MT tonight. The late night match up will provide another quality test for the Broncos as the Seahawks are one the favorites to win the NFC.
A few things to watch for Denver:
First legit look of starting offense: The starting offense did not get more than a series against the San Francisco 49ers. The team was underwhelming with just 2 first downs and then a punt. For tonight, Coach John Fox said he expects to see the starting offense to play a full quarter, if not into the second quarter. The first portion of this game will be close to a regular season game. It will be one of the best offenses vs one of the best defenses for a quarter at least. Will Manning have long sustaining drives? Will a beatup RB core lead by Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball be able to move the ball against the stout D? If Peyton Manning and co. can unleash their will on Seattle, Bronco fans should be optimistic that this team will be ready to hit the ground running against the Baltimore Ravens on September 5th. If the offense puts up another performance like the limited time last Saturday, it might warrant some concern.
How will the offensive line hold up protecting Manning: The offensive line will not be the same when the face the Baltimore Ravens. Starting LT Ryan Clady will not play tonight. He's been held out because of precautionary reasons for his shoulder, but is expected to be ready for the third preseason game against the Rams. This means that backup LT Chris Clark will be protecting Peyton Manning's blind side against a very talented and aggressive Seattle defense. Clark has been working with Manning since the beginning of training camp, but playing against defenses that aren't allowed to touch the quarterback and playing against Seattle's front line is a horse of a different color. The left tackle position isn't the only question, however. It will be interesting to see who will be under center for the Broncos. After C Dan Koppen went down with season-ending surgery, Coach Fox has proclaimed C Manny Ramirez to be the starter. Despite what Fox has said, there is great skepticism that recent free agent signing G/C Ryan Lilja will not be the starter come week 1. Lilja played guard for the Indianapolis Colts, protecting Peyton Manning from 2004-2009. He was brought in almost immediately from retirement after Koppen went down. It's hard to believe Lilja would be persuaded to come out of retirement for a backup role.
First legit look of starting defense: The starting defense was not the least bit impressive against the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners marched from their own 24 yard line to Denver's 14 on 7 minute drive that would result in a field goal. The Niners may have scored if it weren't for a false start penalty. Tonight, the Broncos will face another talented offense lead by QB Russell Wilson. The defense will need to step up its game if they hope to avoid another similar performance.
Von Miller: Miller has been flying all across the country recently. He met with the NFLPA on Thursday in Washington D.C. to discuss his potential four-game suspension. Not too long after, Miller flew back to meet up with his team for tonight's game. Miller's playing time will be telling for the future. Will he play the whole time that the rest of the starters are out there or will he be pulled early? If the Broncos believe Miller will be suspended, they would be wise to start getting Miller's backup ready for the season's start with valuable starting minutes now.
A big game for a few Broncos: Although plenty of the starting spots are already set, several players have plenty to play for. TE Julius Thomas has made quite a bit of noise during training camp. If he can continue to impress, he can cement himself in the starting lineup. TE Jacob Tamme was expected to be the starter for the Broncos, but hasn't been able to make it on the field with an injury. He has just started playing with full pads this week and is hopeful to play tonight. Tamme may not only playing for a starting spot, but perhaps a roster spot since essentially Tamme and Thomas perform the same role for the team. DE/DT Malik Jackson has plenty to play for as well. The 2nd year player has really caught the eye of Jack Del Rio, the defensive coordinator and John Elway, the executive vice president of football operations during training camp. Jackson can be implemented in any part of the defensive line, including NT when they run 3-4 schemes. Jackson could find himself playing significant playing time on a consistent, especially if LB Von Miller's four-game suspension is upheld.