ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --While the thoughts of many in attendance were surely engrossed by the immediate future – specifically, the Broncos' forthcoming regular-season opener with the Ravens on Sept. 5 – Broncos fans got to peer a bit farther down the road in last night's 32-24 loss to the Cardinals in the preseason finale.
Second-year quarterback Brock Osweiler showcased his passing abilities and athleticism – completing his first seven passes of the night, scrambling through the Cardinals defense and giving fans another preview of what someday could be in store – while rookie quarterback Zac Dysert and a slew of other young players tried to make their cases for spots on the 53-man roster.
And while the final game of the preseason ultimately didn't have any consequence in the win-loss column, nor did it feature many appearances from Broncos' familiar cast of starters, Thursday night's contest was hardly without significance.
Here are some of the takeaways from the preseason finale, as the Broncos now turn their attention to the regular season and their impending rematch with the Ravens.
*Webster Packs a Wallop *
Rookie Kayvon Webster made his presence distinctly felt on Thursday night.
The 5-foot-11, 198-pound cornerback tied for a team-high seven tackles on the evening, but it was the intensity of Webster's play that drew attention.
Webster flattened Cardinals wide receiver Jaron Brown with a stiff hit that knocked Brown off his feet and sent him through the air midway through the first quarter.
The hit drew a rise from the crowd – as well as a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty from the officials – and Webster would later collect another unnecessary roughness penalty for a rugged tackle of Cardinals wide receiver Charles Hawkins.
But Webster said after the game that the physicality is simply a product of how he plays – and always has played – football.
"I'm going to continue to play football," he said. "I can't let that scare me. I have to go out there and do my job."
Webster noted that while penalties are part of the game, they wouldn't discourage him from continuing to play physically.
"You can't let a penalty make you scared to play the game," Webster added. "You've just got to go out and play and whatever happens, happens. You deal with the consequences after the game."
In the meantime, Webster may have made a name for himself as a big hitter – and that's something he has no reservations with.
"That's the plan," he laughed. "I'm just going out there and playing football. I've been doing it since age 6. Nothing's going to change."
Bolden Shows Versatility
In a game representing a final audition for many players trying to make the Broncos' 53-man roster, Omar Bolden took on a bit of additional weight on Thursday.
Bolden switched from his familiar cornerback position to safety for the Cardinals game – a shift that he felt comfortable with making once the action on the field got going.
"As the game went on," Bolden said. "When the game started, I was kind of nervous, as all players are when the game starts. After a couple of plays, a couple of hits, I was ready. I was tuned in."
And once he found his footing at the new position, Bolden started making plays – finishing the game tied for second on the team with six tackles.
Bolden noted that he was told he would be making the switch several days in advance.
"Probably about four days ago, or after the last preseason game," he said. "They told me they were going to make the switch and I just ran at it full speed."
And while Bolden couldn't be certain whether the position change will be permanent, he was more definitive that the game was a showcase of his versatility.
"I don't know. I play corner, nickel, safety, so I'm all over in the secondary," Bolden said. "I'm just trying to show them my value and do it the best that I can."
Williams Ready for Regular Season
Rookie defensive tackle Sylvester Williams got the initial taste of NFL football that he had been craving.
Now, he's ready for the real thing.
"The biggest thing about the preseason is getting better every week and knocking the rust off of you. For some guys, it's been months since they played football – everybody, it's been months," Williams said after notching three tackles against the Cardinals. "Being able to get out there and hit somebody else is a good feeling."
The Broncos' first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft noted that the preseason was a productive one – for his personal development and for the team's collective growth.
"I'd say the biggest thing is that you want to get better every week, come out every week feeling like you got better," Williams said. "And rolling into Baltimore next week, we got better as a team and we're ready to roll."
On the cusp of the biggest game of his young career, Williams wasn't caught up in the excitement and fanfare surrounding the season opener.
"For us, we're taking it one day at a time. We're thinking about tomorrow, watching film and correcting this game," he said. "Going into Baltimore is going to be a big week for us. It's a big game."
And Williams was quick to point out that the team's focus throughout the week will remain on preparing thoroughly and performing effectively.
"Obviously, we lost to those guys last year at a crucial time of the year, so we want to come out there and play well against those guys," he added. "Our coaches are going to prepare us and our players are going to play."