DENVER -- The Broncos' starters are expected to play at least one full quarter of Saturday's preseason game against the Chicago Bears, which will cap three days of work together.
That will allow Head Coach Vance Joseph to take a longer look at Case Keenum and the No. 1 offense -- and to get a significant glimpse at his second teams, which will play "until we see progress," he said Thursday.
What should you watch for Saturday night?
Looking for a faster start
Slow starts were a problem last year, and in the preseason opener, this persisted. It wasn't entirely on the first team, as the Broncos turned to their backups by the end of the first quarter, but when the Broncos hit halftime, they trailed in total yardage 269-61 and first downs 14-1.
One key moment came when Minnesota running back Latavius Murray ripped off runs of 21 and 20 yards on back-to-back plays during the Vikings' opening march to a touchdown -- an uncharacteristic sequence for a rushing defense that led the league in yardage allowed per carry and first-down rate.
"There were some very, very basic plays -- like Day-1 plays we worked on -- that we [allowed] in the game early," Defensive Coordinator Joe Woods said. "Gap-control issues, guys fitting properly, executing the coverage, so we can definitely be better. To me, we just made some mistakes that we normally don't make."* Showing resilience*
Penalties, missteps and other miscues are inevitable in any game. Last year, one of the Broncos' problems was that they struggled to compartmentalize their mistakes, and one error often led to a damaging stretch before order could be restored. This sometimes exacerbated their slow starts.
How will Chad Kelly do as the No. 2 quarterback?
Kelly faced a higher level of competition this week, going against Chicago's second-teamers. While he wasn't spectacular, he displayed poise and showed signs that he could raise his game to the higher caliber of competition.
"It wasn't perfect, but he made some plays," Joseph said after Wednesday's practice. "They're like Chad always does. He made some nice scramble plays."
Escapability could be crucial for Kelly if the Bears crank up the pass rush on him like they did at times during practices Wednesday and Thursday.
The quest for cornerback depth
If Chris Harris Jr. sits out the game because of his recent oblique-muscle injury, the Broncos will have the chance to learn more about the cornerbacks competing for the No. 3 and No. 4 roles: Tramaine Brock, Isaac Yiadom, Brendan Langley and C.J. Smith, among others.
Yiadom, in particular, turned in a "very promising" game last week, Woods said. Yiadom started and lined up against Minnesota wide receiver Stefon Diggs at the beginning and end of the Vikings' first possession.
Containing Chicago's running backs and tight ends
The questions posed by Chicago's offense are similar to those the Broncos will face when they take on the Chiefs this season: a young quarterback with an array of short-to-intermediate targets from running back and tight end.
The Broncos traded for Su'a Cravens to help improve their work in this area, but he has not practiced the last two weeks because of knee soreness. Their depth has been further tested by Jamal Carter's season-ending hamstring injury and the absence of Dymonte Thomas and Shamarko Thomas at times this week.
With the Bears in town ahead of their preseason game on Saturday, the Broncos reunited with old friends and got in a friendly practice Wednesday with the Chicago Bears in the first of two joint practices.