The Broncos' path to setting their initial 53-man roster has become more clear.
NFL owners voted Wednesday on a timetable to reduce rosters from their current 90-man limit to the 53-man regular-season roster.
The Broncos — and the 31 other teams across the league — must reduce their roster to 85 players by Aug. 17, 80 players by Aug. 24 and 53 players by Aug. 31.
Denver will then have 12 days to prepare for its season opener against the New York Giants.
The cut-down dates correspond with the three preseason games that are scheduled for 2021. The reduction to 85 will take place after Denver's first preseason game against the Vikings, and the cut to 80 players will occur after the team's game against Seattle. Following the Broncos' game on Aug. 28 against the Rams to close the preseason, Denver will need to reduce its roster to 53 players.
With just three preseason games, the roster cut-down date will occur four days earlier than normal.
Team owners also voted to expand situations in which blocks below the waist are prohibited. Players can no longer block an opponent below the waist after a change of possession, during a number of special teams plays or in any situation where a player is outside the tight end box. The newly defined tight end box expands two yards outside the tackles' position and extends five yards in either direction of the line of scrimmage.
It will also be illegal to execute an illegal cut block, clipping, peel-back block, chop block or crackback block inside the tight end box.
The penalty for any of the above infractions will be 15 yards.
Below the Fold
When the Broncos open the regular season, it appears likely that things will largely be back to normal.
"We do think it will be a much more normal experience," Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday, per The Denver Post. "We do expect full stadiums and it's very possible some people, particularly those not vaccinated, may need to have masks on. Those are things we'll be following closely."
The Broncos are one of just two teams who have not yet received approval for full stadiums this fall, but O'Halloran reports that the Broncos expect to be at full capacity for the season.