Although the starters on the offense and defense of the Denver Broncos did not start against the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night, the Broncos came away with a dominant 17-7 victory over the visitors.
Here are seven risers and fallers for Denver following the team’s first preseason game of 2022.
Stock up: Broncos special teams
(Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images)
Denver’s special teams unit looked vastly improved from the end of last season. As an example, the Broncos’ line stepped up to tip a punt by the Cowboys’ Brian Anger to give the offense decent field position at the Denver 32.
Rookie returner Montrell Washington also had a big game when it came to returning kicks, showing the speed and explosive ability by running back two punts for a total of 45 yards. His longest return went for 27 yards.
Kicker Brandon McManus also began 2022 by knocking through both extra point attempts and a 52-yard field goal to give the Broncos a 17-0 lead before halftime.
Stock down: ILB Jonas Griffith
(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Inside linebacker Jonas Griffith suffered what looked like a serious injury on the second play of the game. Inside linebacker was a very injury-prone group in 2021, with Alexander Johnson and Josey Jewell going out with torn pectoral muscles, stretching the Broncos’ linebackers in the middle of the field. Griffith is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a dislocated elbow. It could have been worse.
Stock up: DB PJ Locke
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
On a night where Denver’s starting defense was on the sidelines, the other units stepped up to the challenge against what was one of the most potent offenses in 2021. Locke stepped in front of a Cooper Rush pass, stalling the Cowboys’ offense at Denver’s 26, for the Broncos’ first takeaway of the 2022 season.
Stock down: QB Brett Rypien
(Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)
Quarterback Brett Rypien had an OK outing against the Cowboys’ third and fourth-string defense. Rypien did lead the longest Broncos drive of the game (96 yards) only for the offense to stall on the Dallas three-yard line. Rypien finished the game 8-18 for 113 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions. Although this may be considered average for a quarterback in the preseason, Rypien clearly showed that he would be third on the depth chart at signal caller.
Stock up: WR Jalen Virgil
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Since the devastating season-ending injury to wide receiver Tim Patrick, the Broncos want to find a filler for that big hole. Virgil became Denver’s big star in the second half of the game, snatching three passes for 83 yards, his longest reception being 42 yards. All three catches were contested efforts, something that Patrick had an advantage in during his time on the field. Could Virgil be the guy who replaces Patrick? Broncos fans are holding their breath for the answer.
Stock down: Broncos rushing attack
(AP Photo/David Becker)
Denver’s rushing attack without starters Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon was, for lack of a better word, atrocious. Throughout the game, the Broncos struggled mightily on the ground, only gaining 39 yards on 22 carries. That is a 1.6 yards-per-carry average, with the longest rush going for six yards. Denver needs to find a rhythm running the ball if either Williams or Gordon goes down. Tonight was not their best performance.
Stock up: Head coach Nathaniel Hackett
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Coach Hackett got his first win (albeit a preseason game) as the leader of the Broncos. Hackett did a great job of calling plays, with a lot of deep shots down the field, reminiscent of his time with the Green Bay Packers. Hopefully, this is harbinger of things to look forward to with Russell Wilson at the helm.
Here’s to many more victories, Coach!