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Broncos-Cowboys: Three Questions

Posted Aug 28, 2014

Juwan Thompson, Kapri Bibbs, Brock Osweiler, Zac Dysert and Brandon McManus are among the players for whom Thursday's game is crucial.

ARLINGTON, Texas --There are 75 men on the Broncos' roster now, but substantially fewer than that will play Thursday against the Dallas Cowboys.

"I know it’s not going to be as big of a group as we usually have going into a preseason game because I’m sure [Head] Coach [John] Fox will have a few players sitting down," said Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase. "We’re going to have a lot of guys getting a lot of reps in this game, and we’ll find out who’s ready to take that next step and possibly make this 53-man roster.”

For many fans, the game will be forgotten as quickly as it is played. For some of the players, it will linger for months, and will help determine their NFL futures.

Most of the questions regarding the preseason finale revolve around players and their positions on or off the roster in the days after the game. But a few other specific questions stand out, and we'll focus on them today.

1. Who steps up at running back?

Although the top lines of the depth chart appear set, this looks like a crucial game for rookies Juwan Thompson and Kapri Bibbs, who survived this week's cut to 75 players but could be measured against each other based on their performance Thursday night.

Both could have the chance to work multiple possessions in succession, giving them the chance to settle into a rhythm.

"This is going to be a lot of our film for the Broncos to watch and for all 31 other teams to watch, as well," said Bibbs. "This is a big game."

Thompson is the Broncos' rushing leader this preseason (102 yards on 16 carries) and saw a smattering of first-team snaps late in training camp. Bibbs doesn't have that kind of extensive work, so this game could matter a bit more to him than Thompson. Nevertheless, Bibbs' confidence is unrestrained.

"Obviously people don’t think, 'Kapri Bibbs is the best NFL running back,' but that’s what I’m working for and that’s what I want to be," he said.

2. How will Brandon McManus do?

McManus was acquired for a conditional seventh-round pick in a trade from the New York Giants on Tuesday, and with Matt Prater's four-game suspension looming, one would expect the Broncos to give McManus as much work as possible to evaluate him before the cut to 53 this weekend. McManus has a strong leg -- 10 of 11 kickoffs this summer have gone for touchbacks -- but it would be good for him to get a handful of field-goal attempts to begin getting a first-hand gauge on his accuracy.

3. What will the Broncos get from quarterbacks Brock Osweiler and Zac Dysert?

From Osweiler, you want improvement from last week's struggles, and a smooth start to the game. He led the Broncos on a touchdown drive on the first possession of his last preseason start, in last year's August finale against the Arizona Cardinals. A similar start would provide needed stability and confidence for the backup offense.

Dysert needs a strong performance. Tonight should give him his longest run of the preseason, and with space at a premium at the back of the roster, he needs to show that a third-string quarterback is worthy of one of the 53 roster spots.

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