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Making Their Case

Posted Aug 29, 2013

With roster cuts due on Saturday, players had a chance to leave their final impression in the preseason finale.

DENVER -- When there's one last chance to make an impression on all 32 NFL teams, it's important to -- as Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase put it earlier this week -- "finish every play."

It doesn't hurt to finish those plays in the end zone.

That's exactly what wide receiver Gerell Robinson and running back Jeremiah Johnson did Thursday night in the club's preseason finale against the Arizona Cardinals.

And they caught the attention of their head coach.

“I thought Gerell Robinson, wide receiver (did well). And Jeremiah Johnson came off a toe injury that he’s been nursing, I thought (he) ran the ball hard," Head Coach John Fox said after the game. "Off the top of my head, those are the guys come to mind.”

Johnson, a fourth-year veteran, is out of practice squad eligibility. He spent parts of the 2010 and 2012 seasons on Denver's practice squad and made the Broncos' active roster in 2011, playing in eight games and contributing 77 rushing yards to the team's league-leading ground attack.

So he knows he needs to make a 53-man roster. He's "very confident" that he's shown enough on the field to do just that -- and he hopes it's in Denver.

“I have no worries about if I didn’t make this team that I wouldn’t land anywhere else. But this is a great place – a lot of good people around here in the locker room," Johnson said. "You have great people like Peyton Manning, Montee Ball that keep this place nice and just happy to be around. Hopefully, these next couple days (I can) relax with family, pray a little bit, and just leave it all up to the coaches. Just be like, 'Hey, I left it all out there on the field' and see what happens.”

Robinson, on the other hand, is still eligible to land on the club's practice squad. He spent last season on Arizona's practice squad after competing in training camp in Denver.

But he hopes his five-catch, 99-yard, one-touchdown performance Thursday night will help his cause to make the active roster.

"I don't think about it too much," he acknowledged. "I know I'll get a call, regardless of where it is or who it's from. That's in God's hands. I can't control that. I just feel fortunate to be here and fortunate to learn from these guys."

Both players are among the Broncos that will spend the next couple of days waiting and wondering what their NFL futures will hold.

The final, 53-man cutdown deadline is Saturday at 4 p.m. MDT. It's a time of year coaches, front office executives and players dread, because it means saying goodbye to players that have worked hard all offseason to make the squad.

“I think everybody has either had to fire somebody or been fired. It’s never fun on either side of that," Fox said. "You get close to these guys through the offseason conditioning, the OTAs, the minicamps, and four preseason games. It’s never easy.”

The goal every year, Fox said, is to try to pick the 53 players that can help the team win a championship. In order to get to that number, nearly two dozen players will need to be trimmed from the currently 75-man squad. The club will evaluate tape from every single play in practice and preseason games, though "the game tape is weighted a little more."

It's that factor that players like seventh-round pick Zac Dysert will hang their hats on. Entering Thursday's game, Dysert had thrown just three preseason passes -- completing all three.

Against the Cardinals, Dysert played the entire second half and kept his perfect streak going into the fourth quarter. He started out 6-of-6 for 149 yards and a touchdown, good for a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating. His first incompletion came with 12:18 remaining in the fourth quarter, though he finished the game 9-of-20.

The rookie said he'll sleep well after the performance, but it will "still be a little nervewracking."

"I put it all in God's hands. He has a plan for me and I can't control what they do, so I just control the things that I can control," he said. "Denver's definitely the first choice. But if it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out. You've just got to make the most out of the opportunity."

Fellow draft pick Tavarres King said he plans to pray, cross his fingers and "all that good stuff" up until cuts are announced.

Second-year defensive back Omar Bolden, who saw his first career start at safety Thursday after spending last season at cornerback, said he'll "sleep like a baby" knowing he put everything he could on film.

That's the attitude players wondering which side of the roster bubble they will fall on Saturday have to take.

"I was confident in the days that led up to this point," Robinson said, "so I'll let the pieces fall where they may."