ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — When the Broncos' defense trots out against Seattle's offense on Saturday, some more familiar faces should be on the field.
After all 11 starting defenders sat out Denver's first preseason game against Minnesota, Head Coach Vic Fangio said Thursday he expects much of his first-team unit to play against the Seahawks.
Fangio said he expects his starting defense to play about 12-15 snaps, which would be near the number that several offensive starters played in Week 1 against the Vikings.
While many of the defensive starters should see their first action, Fangio said it's "still to be decided" whether Von Miller and Bradley Chubb join their teammates on the field. Miller has not played in game action since suffering a season-ending ankle injury last September, and Chubb continues to return from offseason ankle surgery.
Both Miller and Chubb said this week that they'd both like to get some preseason action before the opener against the Giants, but Chubb said it "doesn't matter" when he gets into the game. Miller, who suffered his injury on a turf field, was a bit more particular.
"I'm ready to play," Miller said. "I'm ready to go. I think I was ready to play last week. It's about feeling out the right opportunity to play. Seattle has turf. I didn't want my first game to be turf. I injured myself on turf. I really wanted to get a grass playing field. I know we have to play on turf during the season, and our first game is on turf vs. the Giants. We'll have turf games, but I didn't want my first game after injury to be on turf, especially with the type of injury I had. We'll see. I'll still talk to [Head Athletic Trainer] Vince [Garcia], Coach Fangio and all the guys and see what they think about it."
Regardless of if Miller and Chubb return this weekend, Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell believes the two players will be ready for Week 1.
"We're very confident that they'll be ready to go," Donatell said. "Our goal is for them to play a lot of ball together this year because our team plays better when they're out there together. They're on the proper path. Those will be coaching decisions on how much they play during camp, but they're having good practices."
When both players are on the field, Miller knows he'll have his work cut out for him to keep up with Chubb.
"He's a beast," Miller said. "He's continued to take steps. He's continued to get better and better and better. It's scary to even think about. He keeps getting better and better and better. He picks up on everything. He's jumping the snap count at 275 pounds — he's jumping the snap count. He's big, he's strong, he's fast and he's tough. He's able to fight through injury. That's my right-hand man. I'm excited to play with him. I have to get there a couple seconds faster to get to these sacks because he's going to be on them for sure."
SUTTON SET TO RETURN?
The pass-rush duo won't be the only Broncos who could make their returns this weekend. Wide receiver Courtland Sutton has yet to appear in game action since tearing his ACL in Week 2 last season.
Sutton said Thursday he still hopes to play in one preseason game, but he's unsure whether that will be against Seattle or the following week against the Rams.
"We play a very physical game, so tackling, being able to go out there and block and avoid sheds and running my feet throughout my blocks," Sutton said of what he'll take from preseason action. "All of those things are things that go with the game and things that I'm looking forward to being able to go do in a game-like atmosphere. Yeah, the adrenaline is there, but it's just a physical game and there's certain things that I can't get in practice that I need to get in a game."
Sutton said he feels "fairly close" to 100 percent and that his surgically repaired knee "feels good."
Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur declined to say how much Sutton would play this weekend, but he noted that Sutton is "on track to be ready to go."
BROWNING IS BACK
As third-round pick Baron Browning works his way back from his own injury, it's possible he could see game action as early as this weekend.
Fangio said it was possible for him to play against Seattle and said he was "pleased" with Browning's progress this week.
"He had a good week considering his lack of work and preparation for it," Fangio said. "He did good. The most important thing is he did good physically. He didn't feel any aftereffects. We probably could have started him a little earlier [and] started practicing him, but he did good."