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Published on 08/13/2007 at Mon Aug 13 19:22.
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“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.

Line Break

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:

Broncos Logo   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.

Broncos Logo   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.

Broncos Logo   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.

Broncos Logo   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.

Broncos Logo   TE’s catching & blocking – We should see some of both from our TE’s this evening – it should be fun to watch!

  • http://slushygutter.blogspot.com CommishCH

    I thought Hackney didn’t look too good. Very awkward release and drop. I can’t see him making the team, espeicially since Shanny usually only carries 2 QBs. Parsons will get the mop up next week I suspect.

  • http://www.mydenverobsession.com Jonathan Douglas

    Well, neither of the backups looked all that good. Patrick tried to force a couple of throws and made some poor reads. In Hackney’s defense, he was playing with the 3rd (or 4th??) string guys at that point. I know common wisdom is that later in the game BOTH teams are deep into their rosters so they should be evenly matched, but it still doesn’t make it any easier to get into a flow when you have a patchwork group of backups running with you.

    You may be correct on Hackney’s chances to make the team. We know Shanahan likes Ramsey and will give him a fair shake to get his head around the offense.

  • http://www.mydenverobsession.com Jonathan Douglas

    Well, I wanted to update this post after the game with some quick thought on each of the areas I was looking forward to seeing action on Monday…

    1. Jim Bates sideline manner – Not much coverage of our new Assistant Head Coach/Defense. If I were producing the ESPN show I think I would have focused in on that (especially with all the news out of Camp about how vocal he is). However, this was not the biggest issue I had with the ESPN coverage by far. I completely agree with most of the Denver fans I’ve talked with or read comments from. This was a terrible broadcast. The boys in the booth talked endlessly about everything BUT the game. The sideline reporter called D-will Darrent Smith. And the interview split-screen was truly annoying (especially for all of us with size-challenged TV’s). I would almost have rather listened to the local radio coverage of the game then have to watch ESPN’s version.

    2. Pass Rush – I’ve talked about out D-line issues in my game notes, so I’ll not beat a dead horse here.

    3. Patrick Ramsey and Darrell Hackney – (see above)

    4. Our young WR’s – Well, Kircus was out with an injury (too bad the announcers didn’t relay useful info like that). However, Hixon, Morgan and Clark all did pretty well. Morgan was solid the return game.

    5. Ground Assualt – My worries about our O-line turned out not to be a major issue as we ran the ball well all game. Henry’s preformance, however, was SUPER-HUMAN. I LOVED it! :)

    6. What about SAM – Nate Webster, D.D. Lewis and Green all made pretty good plays. I’m no expert, but from what I understand Bates’ system relies on the LB’s to do the lion’s share of the tackling while the D-line frustrates the runner’s lanes by filling all the gaps. In this case, I would have liked to see more tackles from our LB unit, but this was the first game and I know on one or two plays it seemed like our guys over-ran their target. That’s the problem with speedy linebackers, I guess. Sometimes patience is more important than speed.

    OTHER AREAS TO WATCH:
    Strong Secondary – Great show by all our DB’s!

    Full Backs – Kyle is still leading the pack by a long-shot, but Fleming looked good on that score.

    Depth at O-line – (See above)

    D.J. in the Middle – Pretty quiet night for DJ (although he was pulled pretty early with the other starters).

    TE’s catching & blocking – Average. No huge catches and a few missed blocks, but over all a solid effort.