ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos' first preseason game is just days away, and the matchup with the Cowboys may be just as important for Denver's coaching staff as it is for players looking to make an impression.
Defensive Coordinator Ejiro Evero and Offensive Coordinator Justin Outten will each coach their first games in their new roles, and Evero will take on duties as a first-time play caller.
"It's really important," Evero said of the matchup. "Not just this weekend, but the whole lead-up to the week. For me, it's building the call sheets and our operation through the week and how we want to progress through that. Then once we get to the weekend, [it's about] what we're doing on game day — our mechanics off the field and on the field, in the box and all those things. It's definitely good practice."
Evero acknowledged the preferred vantage point that the coaches' booth provides a play caller, but he said he'll call plays from the sideline.
"I definitely want to be down there with the guys," Evero said. "I want to be emotionally connected to them."
Outten, meanwhile, will be in the coaches' box as the "eyes in the sky" for Nathaniel Hackett. The Broncos' head coach will call plays from field level, but he'll count on Outten for a different perspective.
"Hackett used to mess around with us in Green Bay when it was negative five [degrees], drinking hot chocolate," Outten joked. "I hopefully will have that opportunity one day, but I'll be upstairs and be the eyes for Hackett."
The results of the game may not matter, but both Evero and Outten will get in valuable work when the Cowboys visit this weekend.
PRESEASON PLAYING TIME
As Evero is calling plays for the first time in a game setting, it sounds as though he'll be without at least a few of his top players.
Asked how much he needed to see from players like Justin Simmons, Pat Surtain II and Bradley Chubb, Evero simply smiled.
"Certain guys have already shown what they can do, and we're very pleased with what they can do and where they are at," Evero said.
Translation: You may not see much of the Broncos' star defenders in preseason action.
A BIGGER ROLE
Rookie Montrell Washington has seen his role on offense increase in recent days, but Special Teams Coordinator Dwayne Stukes believes the added responsibility may actually help him as a returner.
"I think I see more confidence," Stukes said. "You don't see the guy who came in the first week or whenever we drafted him as a rookie. He's starting to mature a little bit more as well. All those catches that he makes on offense are great for him on special teams, but we still have to see what he can do on Saturday as far as a returner."
Washington should get his first live opportunity on Saturday against the Cowboys.
"We drafted him to be our returner — there's no secret in that, either," Stukes said. "But he has to win the job. Him making plays on offense can only help him on special teams. Again, we have to see what he does on Saturday when it's live bullets. We haven't had a live tackling period, so we want to see if he can take contact. We want to see his balance, we want to see him burst, explode and make plays. All of that will help him."