The Denver Broncos welcome the Houston Texans to Dove Valley for three joint practices before the two teams play on Saturday night. The game is also the third of the preseason which is usually referred to as the dress rehearsal for the regular season.
However there is nothing usual about this preseason for the Broncos and quite frankly, I’d be shocked if the starters play much more than a quarter versus the Texans. There are a couple of reasons for this starting with the fact that the Broncos are ready for the regular season all ready.
Coming off of an impressive effort versus the San Francisco 49ers and I’m not talking about the 34-0 final score. The offense went up and down the field with ease versus a good defense, and Peyton Manning actually looks better than he did last season. The offensive line with the return left tackle Ryan Clady has been nothing short of dominant through two games.
Manning and the offense have scored on three of their first four possessions and really just do not need any more work before taking on the Indianapolis Colts on September 7th.
The defense has been just as impressive and that is without two starters in Von Miller and Chris Harris Jr. Both are expected to play in the season opener and Miller may play a few snaps versus the Texans.
The defensive line has put consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks and they are coming off of a game where they forced four turnovers.
The point of all this is the Broncos are ready to go and playing an extra quarter versus the Texans only increases the chances of an injury. The only goal remaining for the Broncos in training camp is to stay healthy. Teams use that third preseason game to get ready for the opener two weeks later but the Broncos are all ready there.
The second factor in favor of the Broncos’ starters only playing briefly on Saturday night is the fact that they are going to get game like practices all week. Manning and the offense will get a good test from a good Texans defense. The Texans defensive line that includes JJ Watt and rookie Jadeveon Clowney will be a challenge for the offensive line, and will give Clady some excellent work.
While the Texans offense is not among the best, they will give the Broncos defense some different looks. The Texans like to run the ball which will also be good for the Broncos to see.
The next three days won’t be games but they will be close; the two teams will go against each other in both 7 on 7 and team drills. Many of those drills will be live with the only exception being that they won’t be tackling to the ground. Because of what are expected to be some intense practices, the Broncos just won’t need that much work on Saturday night.
Training camp is designed to get teams ready for the regular season; there’s no rule that says you can’t be ready before the end of camp. Rebuilding teams like the Texans are still in the process of finding themselves and figuring out who is going to play where on opening day, and that’s why the third preseason game matters.
The Broncos don’t need to see their starters; they need to see the second and third teams. There are going to be some very difficult decisions when the cuts begin next week. The Broncos have incredible depth at almost every position on the field and those are the players who need playing time.
The Broncos know who they are and there is very little to gain by putting their starters out there for up to a half. Manning and company are ready, bring on the regular season.