Posted Mon Aug 13th by Jonathan Douglas
“We don’t pay much attention to the first preseason game… I hate to say that, but it’s the truth.”
— Mike Shanahan 8/10/07
Mike Shanahan doesn’t care about the rematch against the team who knocked the Broncos out of the playoff less than a year ago. He hasn’t broken down the 49ers offense or defense. He hasn’t spent hours preparing a special game plan or scripting the plays for Cutler’s first drive. He just doesn’t care.
OK… more correctly, he cares — just not about the term ‘game.’
Mike Shanahan and his coaches view the coming Monday night skirmish as an extended practice, not a full football game.
Yes, it will be under the glaring lights of ESPN’s Monday Night Football cameras. Yes, a football hungry nation will be watching, as tonight symbolizes the beginning of the season to many fans. But just because millions of viewers will be tuning in won’t mean that the Bronco’s Head Coach will take his eyes off the prize.
And the ‘prize’ is a championship season in 2007.
From that perspective, the only thing that matters tonight is evaluating his personnel under game-play situations.
That’s why I love the preseason, really. I look forward to seeing all the fresh faces and lesser known players give 110% effort as they fight for a roster spot. These preseason games can bring more energy and emotion than playoff games sometimes (just ask TD about Tokyo).
So, here is a list of things I’m looking forward to seeing tonight (mostly in order of importance to my personal entertainment):
1. Jim Bates sideline manner – Oh, PLEASE get him a mic ESPN!!!!!
Bates and his coaches have been very vocal during camp and I can’t wait to see his sideline coaching style in his first game as a Bronco!
2. Pass Rush – Blow ‘em up boys!
With all the attention the Broncos have placed on the D-line, I want to see even our 3rd and 4th teams terrorizing the 49ers tonight. We will also get to see our rookies playing for the first time in orange and blue, which should be fun… And, heck, a little bit of payback is a good thing!
3. Patrick Ramsey and Darrell Hackney – Let’s see your fastball guys!
Patrick Ramsey has shown great strides in learning Shanahan’s offensive system, so I’m looking forward to seeing him tonight. I know there will be some struggling (especially early on) as this is his first game with the new unit, but the coaches have been impressed with his intelligence and the speed at which he’s picked up the scheme. Darrell Hackney has also had a very good camp. Tonight will give him a chance to show off his talents (not the least of which is his arm strength).
4. Our young WR’s – who’s left?
We have some talented guys with not a lot of starting experience (and some with none). However, players like Kircus, Hixon, Morgan and Clark have all done very well at camp. It will be interesting to see how they do during tonight’s skirmish.
5. Ground Assualt – Let’s see ‘em roll!
While I look forward to seeing our RB’s take the field, I have my doubts about their production this evening due to the missing starters along the O-line. Lepsis and Hamilton will sit this one out. That will cause the rest of the line to shuffle (all but Tom Nalen that is). However, I think we should still be able to see flashes from our backs well into the 3rd and 4th teams tonight. Of course, my favorite lesser known Bronco RB is Andre Hall and I can’t wait to see what he makes of his chances when the lights are on.
6. What about SAM – who’s going to make the big play on the Strong Side?
Well, the reps have been split between Nate Webster and D.D. Lewis throughout camp. Holdman and Moore are out and Green (listed as the starter) is battling a knee injury. So, will it be Webster or Lewis that stands out this evening?
OTHER AREAS TO WATCH:
Strong Secondary – With the starters not getting many reps we’ll have to wait to see much of the Champ & Bly show for at least another week. Still… We have some good backups, and it will be fun to see how well they do.
Full Backs – Watch the FB’s tonights carefully. Kyle has been leading the work, but Paul Smith, Tony Fleming and even Cecil Sapp may get some reps.
Depth at O-line – Backup and rookie O-linemen should be fun to watch tonight. This will be a great chance to see how they’re coming along.
D.J. in the Middle – Again, the starters won’t be in very long, but while they are D.J. Williams will likely make some big plays.
TE’s catching & blocking – We should see some of both from our TE’s this evening – it should be fun to watch!