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Broncos evaluate progress after extensive first-team looks


DENVER** – Three games into the preseason and just two weeks away from the first game of the regular season, the Broncos have shown glimpses of brilliance and areas for improvement.

A late-game rally lifted Denver over the 49ers, 19-12, Saturday night in their first home game of the preseason at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. But just because the Broncos notched another win in the preseason, it doesn't mean the team is up to where they think they should be this point in the season.

Some would say that the third game of the preseason is the 'dress rehearsal', or the closest we'll get to see real action before the regular season. The Broncos' first-team offense and defense saw playing time for a full half, the most they've had all preseason. There's still another week of preseason games on the slate, but even then starters don't usually see much playing time.

Check out the scene as fans and the Broncos prepare for Saturday night's game against the 49ers.

On the offense, Denver struggled to find their rhythm in the first half with their first-team offense. At the conclusion of the first two frames, Denver came up short on three red-zone attempts despite netting 182 offensive yards.

For veteran right guard Louis Vasquez, he saw plenty for the Broncos' offensive line to work on.

"I was a little disappointed. We didn't score in the red zone," Vasquez said.
We were put in some tough spots, but no matter what, whatever the coaches call, we've got to respond and we've got to get in the end zone."

Entering his sixth season in the NFL, Vasquez has had plenty of experience working out the kinks in the preseason. But in his opinion, he says the third game of the preseason is supposed to be a team's worst.

"For vets, you want to feel like you're getting back to your game, where you're supposed to be," Vasquez said. "It's obviously going to be -- it's supposed to be your worst game of the year, and you're supposed to build on that, but as a vet, you want to be feeling where you're back on top of your game, you're getting back to where you need to be for opening week of the regular season."

On the other side of the ball, the defense was particularly stingy against the 49ers' offense. The defense saw three sacks from as many players, managed hold San Francisco to zero net passing yards in the first half and to just 11 first downs in the entire game.

Safety T.J. Ward says he thinks the team is in a good place at this point, but like always, there are things that need to be worked on.

"I think we played pretty well today," said Ward. "[We're] just looking to get better. We had a couple of busts that we capped out a few times in big situations, so just get better."

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