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Who’s trending up and who’s trending down after the Broncos’ third preseason game

Zac Stevens Avatar
August 20, 2019

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Vic Fangio and Joe Flacco made their debuts in the Mile High City on Monday Night Football in what was the hottest game in the Broncos’ history.

The heat wasn’t too hot for the San Francisco 49ers, though, as they took down Denver 24-15 in the Broncos’ third preseason game.

The score, however, isn’t what matters in the preseason. Here’s who’s trending up and who’s trending down with two weeks left until cut day.


Bradley Chubb

There was no question who the best player on the field was on Monday night. No. 55 in Orange & Blue single-handedly took down Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers’ first-team offense.

The former fifth-overall pick wreaked havoc on the 49ers’ offensive line. First, Chubb got a hand on Garoppolo, which led to Isaac Yiadom’s interception. Plays later, he pushed All-Pro Joe Staley into Garoppolo, forcing the $27.5 million QB to throw it right into the hands of De’Vante Bausby, although the corner dropped the sure pick.

But neither of those were Chubb’s best work. The second-year player dodged, ducked, dipped, dived and dodged his way past the 49ers’ backup left tackle for the easy strip-sack of C.J. Beathard. Oh, and Chubb did all of this in less than a half.

“I thought he played well overall,” Vic Fangio said postgame.

Let the conversation escalate between who will have a better year with Chubb and Von Miller.

Shelby Harris

Denver’s front seven stole the show to begin the game, highlighted by Chubb and Shelby Harris.

The Broncos’ starting nose tackle began the night with two tipped passes at the line of scrimmage in the team’s first two series. In the past two seasons, Harris has the 10th-most batted passes of any defensive lineman in the NFL.

The play after his second tipped pass, the 290-pounder showed his versatility with a tackle at the line of scrimmage on a screen pass.

Emmanuel Sanders

No. 10 was trending up the moment he tweeted Monday morning he was officially returning to the game field, a mere eight months after tearing his Achilles in December.

Then it got even better.

Sanders’ first snap in his preseason debut was a completion to him from Joe Flacco.

And then, believe it or not, it got even better for Denver’s star receiver.

Later in the drive, Sanders took a reverse for a team-long 19 yards, displaying he’s still got the moves and elusiveness.

After the game, Flacco said, “it was definitely good for our offense” to have Sanders back on the field.

It’s no surprise Sanders was heavily involved in the team’s first series. When he’s played during training camp, he’s by far been Denver’s most important and dynamic player on offense. It was clear that’s going to translate to the game field come September.

Isaac Yiadom

In a battle for Denver’s third cornerback position, both Isaac Yiadom and De’Vante Bausby had opportunities for interceptions thanks to Chubb’s pressures.

Only one of them took advantage and made the big-time play. That was second-year player Yiadom.

With time weening for players to separate themselves in battles, Yiadom got the leg up on Bausby on Monday night.

Drew Lock

It’s happened.

For the first time in the preseason, Drew Lock was the Broncos’ No. 2 quarterback. For that alone, Lock is trending up. But Lock’s first series wasn’t just as the backup, it was with the Broncos’ first-team unit.

Much like Flacco, Lock’s first drive ended in a field goal.

“I thought Drew showed some flashes of improvement,” Fangio said after the game. “Made some nice throws. Moved around well. I’m sure it wasn’t perfect, but again he’s improving, and that’s what we’re looking for right now.”

Unfortunately, Lock’s night ended early after spraining his right thumb when he tried to throw the ball as he was falling down. X-rays came back negative on Monday night, and he’ll have an MRI on Tuesday. Fangio believes the injury is “mild in nature.”

Lock told BSN Denver he isn’t concerned about the injury and didn’t believe it would hold him back for Saturday’s fourth preseason game, and was even hopeful for Wednesday’s practice.


Garett Bolles

Sigh. Another game, another holding penalty for Denver’s left tackle.

Like most times, especially for preseason, it was painful. With pressure coming off the edge, Bolles got his hands too far on the outside right in front of the official, clearly drawing the flag. The problem was it negated a 40-yard completion to Sanders.

Additionally, Bolles allowed his assignment to make a play in the backfield on a sweep to the left.

Nick Williams

Tom McMahon and Vic Fangio have essentially been begging for someone to step up and grab a returner job. The veteran receiver Nick Williams had put himself in good position to slowly walk away with the punt return job.

But he dropped that on Monday as a punt went right through his hands and on the ground.

Although Williams did recover the ball, his biggest asset was his dependability catching it.

The Broncos are back to square one in finding a returner. On top of that, Fangio called special teams as a unit a “big-time concern” following the game.

Ron Leary

Sanders has received all of the spotlight for his speedy recovery from Achilles surgery. Because of that, Ron Leary has quietly gone under the radar in his impressive recovery from the same injury.

Unfortunately, on Monday, it was a different part of Leary’s body that kept him from stepping on the field.

“Ron’s knee is bugging him a little bit,” Fangio said after the game.

Fangio added he thought Denver’s starting right guard could have played if needed, but held him back instead.

Leary has proved he is an important piece for Mike Munchak’s line when healthy, but hasn’t proved he can consistently stay healthy. This, unfortunately, raises more concerns.

Austin Schlotmann received the start in his place.

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