Position battles will once again trump the final score in the final week of preseason as the Denver Broncos meet the Arizona Cardinals at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Thursday night.
Cardinal fans will have their eyes on key battles on the offensive and defensive lines. SB Nation pointed to nose tackles Ricky Lumpkin and Padric Scott and defensive ends Frostee Rucker and Ronald Talley in dire need of big plays in order to make this weekend’s final trim down.
The broken leg suffered by rookie left guard Jonathan Cooper last week against San Diego has opened up an opportunity for guards Chilo Rachal and Senio Kelemente, and center Mike Gibson. According to the Arizona Republic, right guard Paul Fanaika is expected to start for a Cardinal offensive line that gave up a league-high 58 sacks last year.
That same report from the Republic suggested Arizona will keep four to five cornerbacks, with Antoine Cason, Jamell Fleming, and Javier Arenas competing for the final one or two spots.
The Broncos also have some tough decisions to make in their secondary, with corner Quentin Jammer playing for his career, as reported by the Denver Post. He is in direct competition with Omar Bolden for a spot in secondary. So far, Bolden has three total tackles to Jammer’s five, but youth may win out with the 34-year-old former Charger praying to keep his job.
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While Peyton Manning took an unusually high 54 snaps under center in the preseason, he is not expected to play and Brock Osweiler will get the starting nod at quarterback. It’s his second year in Denver after appearing in five games and notching minus-13 yards on eight pass attempts.
According to ESPN, the Broncos will make most of their final roster decisions at special teams, and some needed depth on the offensive line. Ryan Lilja, Steve Vallos, and Phillip Blake are all up for a tackle or guard spot.
It will also be the last game for Von Miller before he serves his six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s drug policy.
Game coverage begins at 9 p.m. ET and a live online stream is available by subscription on the NFL’s official site here.
In Denver the game is on KTVD, and the Cardinals are on KNXV in Phoenix and KWBA in Tucson.
Betting Odds: Even
Over/Under: 37.5 points
Prediction: Denver 24, Arizona 14