ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — When the Broncos’ offense takes its first snaps of the preseason, quarterback Kevin Hogan will guide the unit.
Head Coach Vic Fangio announced Monday that Hogan would start the game and would be followed by second-round pick Drew Lock and undrafted rookie Brett Rypien.
“Just play good,” said Fangio when asked what he wants to see from Hogan and Lock. “Run the offense. Throw the ball where you’re supposed to throw when it’s a pass, be good on [your] checks and just be efficient.”
Starting quarterback Joe Flacco is not expected to play. He and many of the other starters will sit out the opening preseason game, and younger players should receive the bulk of the reps.
“I think the guys that benefit the most from it are the young players,” Fangio said of playing five preseason games. “They’re going to get more reps. So many times, I think young players feel with the four-game schedule [that] they don’t get enough opportunities. So they’re going to get more opportunities here and get their play on tape. The good thing about being a football player [is] you don’t have to make a resume. Your resume’s on tape, and every team gets it. Hopefully we’ll be able to do right and give everybody an ample amount of reps.”
A couple of starters may “get a handful of plays,” Fangio said. The Broncos' head coach said Connor McGovern could be one starter who falls in that category.
The game against the Falcons, though, is just the first step of preparing the Broncos for the regular season.
“The main thing that we want to accomplish is get the individual and the team ready for the regular season,” Fangio said. “One of our biggest jobs is to make sure we pick the right 53 guys, so we want to see guys go out and play. There will be times where, as coaches, we may have a good feel for what the other team is going to run, but we’re going to call something that’s hard for us, just to see if guys can handle it. Hard assignment — not hard mentally. Can guys cover receivers? Can guys rush the passer? Can we stop the run? It’s an evaluation tool, mainly. But like anything, once you start playing, that competitiveness gets in you and you want to win the game. But evaluation and getting the team ready is job No. 1.”
VISITING THE HALL
Before the Broncos head to their hotel on Wednesday night, they’ll stop at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. For many members of the roster, it will be their first trip to see the Hall.
“I’m sure all the offensive linemen will want to get their picture with [Offensive Line Coach and Hall of Famer] Mike Munchak and his bust there,” Fangio said. “I think it will be a cool experience for the players. Most of the players will dive in and experience it. Some guys will say, ‘Why are we even here? I’d rather be at the hotel.’ But that’s the way it goes.”
SANDERS RETURNS TO 11-ON-11
For the first time during training camp, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders participated in 11-on-11 drills. The Broncos have worked Sanders back slowly from an Achilles injury, but his participation in team drills was the latest step in his recovery.
“Hopefully you’re going to see him do a little bit more each and every day,” Fangio said. “These next two practices are going to be altered because of the game, but when we come back and get back into training camp mode, hopefully you’ll see him play three to five more plays than you saw today. He’s not going to go from what you saw today to, ‘Oh yeah, he’s ready to go take it all.’ It’s just going to be a progression.”
Tight end Jake Butt (knee) missed his seventh consecutive practice, and Fangio said the third-year player’s recovery from his third ACL tear is “unpredictable."
“You get concerned,” Fangio said. “Jake keeps having these little potholes. He starts feeling good, moves a little, does something and then it doesn’t feel so good. All things that we’re led to believed are to be expected. The important thing is keeping his spirits up and just see where it develops and where it goes.”
Cornerback Bryce Callahan missed Monday’s practice after a teammate stepped on his foot during Saturday’s practice. He exited that session early and remained out after the team’s day off. Fangio, though, said Callahan is OK.
Several players returned to practice Monday, including running back Phillip Lindsay, who sat out most of Saturday’s practice after a chiropractic visit gone wrong. Fangio said Lindsay is now fine, but that he “will not be going to any more” appointments at the chiropractor’s office.
Wide receiver River Cracraft (muscle) and linebacker Dekoda Watson (lower leg) both participated on Monday. Cracraft participated in part of practice before removing his shoulder pads.
Wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton (hamstring), linebacker Todd Davis (calf), offensive lineman Jake Rodgers (calf), tackle Ja’Wuan James (lower-leg bruise) and tight end Bug Howard (ankle) also remained out.
DON’T READ INTO IT
The Broncos’ released their initial depth chart for the season on Monday, but Fangio cautioned reporters from trying to garner any information from it.
“You guys know who’s been working with the [first team], and after that, it’s a free for all,” Fangio said. “If you put any stock into it, you’re mistaken.”