DENVER — The Denver Broncos‘ defensive starters flexed some regular-season muscle in their half of work, and the Broncos’ offense rallied as the first half drew to a close as Denver put together a 20-17 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Saturday night in Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
QB depth chart: Trevor Siemian was officially named the starter for the regular season this past week, but he did not open Saturday night’s game as if the announcement had relaxed him any. He had a rocky start — 3-of-9 passing in a first quarter that included an interception — but closed out the first half with two scoring drives, going 6-of-7 for 48 yards on a field goal drive in the final 1 minute, 55 seconds. Paxton Lynch attempted just two passes before he left the game in the third quarter with a right shoulder injury.
When it was starters vs. starters, the Broncos looked …: Like their defense is going to be as fierce as those players have said it will be. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was in the game long enough to attempt just five passes, but Von Miller still sacked him once. The Broncos, with many of the defensive starters having played the opening half, held the Packers to 102 total yards in the first half, 62 of those on three plays.
One reason to be concerned: Special teams continue to be a choppy affair, at times, as the Broncos work through decisions all over the roster. The Broncos had three special teams penalties before the third quarter was 20 seconds old. The expectation would be that things would even out once the roster is set, but the consistency isn’t there just yet.
That guy could start: With Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders at wide receiver, it’s tough for any of the Broncos’ other wideouts to give too much thought to starting any game, but Jordan Taylor continues to flash the ability to win the ball in tight spaces. And Siemian has shown he trusts Taylor to make those catches in traffic. Sometimes there is some hand-wringing that Taylor hasn’t played special teams much in his career, which is often a necessity for the backup receivers, but all Taylor does is make plays in the passing game when the ball is in the air.
Rookie watch: Rookie safety Jamal Carter, an undrafted player, could make things interesting when the Broncos go through their roster decisions in the secondary. On a night when the Broncos starters were going to play much of the first half, Carter still got some snaps at safety late in the first half when the Broncos went to their specialty packages. Carter was the leading tackler in the Broncos’ preseason opener in Chicago three weeks ago as well and recovered a fumble in that game. Running back De’Angelo Henderson has enjoyed a productive preseason to this point, but he fumbled twice in the game and that’s not what the Broncos want to see from a player who could have an important role in the regular season.
Aches and pains: The Broncos had some injuries that will need some attention in the coming days. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas left the game in the first quarter with a groin injury, but that looked like a precautionary move given it was the starters’ last preseason action. But safety Will Parks left before halftime with a hip injury and did not return while Lynch’s injury will be evaluated more on Sunday.
Make it count: Running back Jamaal Charles made what will be his only preseason game appearance. The Broncos wanted to see some of the possibilities he could bring to the offense. Charles has played just eight games in the last two seasons combined because of multiple knee surgeries and had not played in the first two preseason games. Charles finished with 27 yards on his four carries to go with 15 yards on two receptions.
Quality proposal: Broncos tackle Menelik Watson took a knee and proposed to his somewhat stunned girlfriend, Azania Stewart, next to the stands behind the Broncos’ bench in the third quarter of Saturday night’s game. She quickly said yes.