It’s usually a big game when the Denver Broncos play the Seattle Seahawks, but that won’t be the case on Friday night. The two teams will face off in Week 1 of the 2015 NFL preseason with most of their top stars prepared to watch from the sidelines in Seattle.
The rematch of Super Bowl XLVIII and last year’s Week 3 overtime game won’t feature Peyton Manning or Demaryius Thomas. Seattle’s top defensive players, including Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, will also sit.
Mike Klis of 9News in Denver reports that Manning won’t play in the Broncos’ first game since they were upset in the divisional round of last year’s playoffs. Manning had a lackluster performance in the loss, concluding what was a poor final stretch of the season.
After throwing four touchdowns and six interceptions in the final five games of the 2014 season, it was revealed that Manning played the final month of the year with a quadriceps injury. The veteran appears healthy and will be ready to start the regular season, but he’ll get some rest as he prepares to play on the 17th NFL opening weekend of his career.
"Obviously, we have some guys with some nicks that have missed some time that we have to make some decisions on," Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said on Wednesday. "We have a few guys that we'll talk about that have a lot of birthdays, so we'll talk about them, too."
Manning’s top receivers will sit too, giving some younger players a chance to shine. Thomas will rest after catching 111 passes for 1,619 yards in 2014. Emmanuel Sanders was right behind him with 101 receptions for 1,404 yards, and he’ll sit with a hamstring injury.
Stars on both sides of the ball are expected to sit for the Seahawks. Richard Sherman is nursing a minor injury in his hip-flexor area, while Earl Thomas continues to recover from a torn labrum. Kam Chancellor is healthy, but the safety is currently holding out, looking for a new contract. Steven Terrell and Dion Bailey will both start at safety.
Marshawn Lynch appears likely to get rest and sit out, as well, though Seattle’s quarterback is expected to take a few snaps. Russell Wilson recently signed a contract extension with the Seahawks, and he’ll have a new No.1 option this year.
The quarterback has yet to play with a 1,000-yard receiver in his three-year career, but Seattle acquired the No.2 pass-catching tight end in the offseason. Jimmy Graham will likely make his Seahawks debut on Friday, having totaled 4,752 receiving yards and 46 touchdowns in the last four years.
“Well I think the cool part about Jimmy [Graham] is we can just plug him in,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell told The Seattle Times. “We really don’t have to do anything special. He’s special as a player being able to fit into the offense, he’s picked it up very well. We can run the exact same routes that we’ve been running and just kind of plug him in. So I don’t think we are going to have to do anything just to target him to get him the ball.”
Centers Lemuel Jeanpierre and Drew Nowak will look to impress head coach Pete Carroll on Friday, as they compete for the starting job. Seattle traded starting center Max Unger to the New Orleans Saints when they acquired Graham.
Start Time: 10 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NFL Network
Live Stream: nflnonline.nfl.com
Betting Line: Seattle-5