Posted Thu Aug 13th by Monty
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.