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Published on 08/13/2009 at Thu Aug 13 14:53.
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Denver Broncos defensive backs Darcel McBath, left, and David Bruton (30) loosen up before football practice at the team's training facility in Englewood, Colo, on Friday, June 12, 2009. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

Denver Broncos DBs Darcel McBath, left, and David Bruton (30). (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

With the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers set to kick off the 2009 preseason Friday at 7pm PT, it’s finally time for some football, Broncos fans! It’s also time for answers – answers to questions the fans have been asking all offseason and training camp, and to which the coaches either didn’t want to reveal or haven’t resolved themselves. Let’s break these questions down, starting with a couple of rookies and an injured big-name free agent.

The Broncos brought in Brian Dawkins to be the vocal and physical leader of the new defense, particularly in the secondary. Slotted at free safety, I wouldn’t have believed Dawkins was 36 years old after watching him in training camp, even if you swore it on your grandmother’s life. He’s fast, nimble and physical, and will provide a genuine football benefit when he returns from hand surgery, in addition to his intangibles.

In the meantime, though, Dawkins is out. The Broncos have been slotting two rookies at his position: second round draft pick Darcel McBath and fourth round draft pick David Bruton. Both have had their moments in camp, both good and bad, but neither has truly excelled over the other.

So who will start Friday?

Since Dawkins’ injury (and even when the veteran was held out by a “coach’s decision” a few times before the injury), David Bruton was seeing nearly every snap with the first team. Until Tuesday, that is, when the Denver Post tells us McBath started seeing reps with the first team. Very interesting to see the coaches switch that at a per-practice level rather than splitting reps within a practice. Adding fuel to the McBath fire is the depth chart released Monday, which lists McBath behind Dawkins at free safety, while Bruton is slotted at strong safety behind Renaldo Hill.

Bruton is both bigger and faster, but is considered raw. McBath was drafted two rounds ahead of him and, while also rough around the edges, is a more finished product.

The verdict: I’m really less interested to see who starts in Dawkins’ place than I am to see who excels in it. Both players will likely get a lot of reps with the first team defense, which McDaniels has said will see extensive time during the preseason. I want to see smart heads-up plays, and I want to see them get physical when the opportunity presents itself. If I had to guess on the starter, I’d say McBath – although Bruton has gotten more snaps overall, McBath was the guy going through the mental reps Wednesday when they installed their game plan, so I’d say he gets the nod.

  • CJ

    Its going to be Bruton thats his natural position while Mcbath is more of a strong safety

  • Mr.East

    Can we pick Steve Atwater? No?

    Fine. Bruton will most likely get the start. I’ll have to tweet about it while I’m at the game.

  • kerry

    well thats easy, its already been announced on the DP that McBath will be starting tomorrow night.


    actually Bruton is the prototypical SS and McBath with his speed is a free safety. and if you actually go and look at the released depth chart on, it has Bruton listed as a……..wait for it…..a Strong Safety! so its obvious McBath will be starting at FS for the injured Brian Dawkins.

  • Kyle

    The DP said McBath “is expected” to start. Hardly a definitive announcement, it’s a way of making an educated guess while still covering your ass.

  • carson

    they are both studs. I agree, i think it all depends on who seems more confident at that position with the 1st team D. it doesnt really matter who starts, and i’m sure that both of them wouldnt mind that the other starts in front of him. They both want each other to excel to make them better players. I think they both with stand out as leaders. but if i had to guess, I’d pick McBath to look better.

  • Garrett Barnes

    I HATED the McBath pick. Still do. On the other hand I loved the Bruton pick and I think that Bruton in the long run will be the more productive player. Whether he gets the start in this situation… eh, I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see.

  • Mr.East

    I loved the Steve Atwater pick. Still do.

  • Kyle

    I sneeze after each nose pick. Still do.

  • broncoNM

    I hope mcbath gets the nod…

  • http://bandit Dan Myers

    Watch Coach Dontell switch again and have Josh Barrett start at FS.

  • http://bandit Dan Myers

    Damn that enter button.
    But mainly I agree with above posters on seeing players play football and hit some one. Coach McD has brought the physical nature so lets see it.
    Front seven pressure will be my eyes focus.

  • CJ

    Michael Vick signed a 2 year deal with the eagles

  • (dee)

    I just love the fact we have YOUNG players… so now in Madden 10 I dont have to draft random NO-NAME players to fill my roster in Franchise Mode.

  • MileHigh55

    Dee ) Try playing the Fantasy Franchise mode and build your team from scratch , 49 rounds of drafting. Takes about and hour and twenty minutes to get through it. But in the end you have no excuses you picked your team.

  • gobronx

    I find it strange that Dawk is listed as FS while Hill is at SS. Clearly Dawk is more of an SS with his hitting/tackling ability and the way he is brought up into the box. Klis caught this to when checking out the depth chart on Monday. I think Hill/McBath at FS while you see Dawk/Bruton/Barrett at SS. And the beauty of Bruton and Barrett is that they are both fast enough to play FS and agile enough to cover the TE.

    I guess that Bruton gets the nod tonight.

    Kerry: McBath with his speed? Go look up the combine numbers. Bruton is bigger, stronger, and faster than McBath.

  • air jordan 5

    Knowledge gives weight, gives glory to achievement, most people only see the glory, not to weigh the weight!