ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Monday morning started one of the more difficult weeks of the season for Head Coach John Fox and his staff. Trimming the roster from 87 players to 75 means parting ways with 12 players who have spent countless hours giving their best efforts on the field in a quest to make the opening-week roster.
"This Monday and next Friday are probably two of the harder days that you deal with as the head coach," Fox said. "It's never easy trying to figure out what these guys are all about, getting to know them and having to let them go is not easy. Definitely a tough day."
By Friday, the team will have to meet the league-wide roster limit of 53 by 7 p.m. MDT. Thursday night's preseason finale against Arizona will be a crucial final audition for those players who have yet to cement roster spots.
"At the end of the day, they get more opportunities in game conditions, regardless of position," Fox said. "The bottom part of the roster, as far as backups, special teams guys that can be core contributors – there will be a lot of those questions answered or this will be the last opportunity to have those questions answered Thursday night (at) Arizona."
Two veterans who have yet to make their Broncos debuts are safety Jim Leonhard and linebacker Keith Brooking. Leonhard, who signed with the team on Aug. 5, has starting experience with the Jets and Ravens, but has been sidelined as he recovers from a knee injury suffered last season. Brooking, a five-time Pro Bowler, joined the team early in training camp, but suffered an injury that has held him out of the team's first three preseason games. Fox said both players will be evaluated between now and Thursday to decide whether they will play against the Cardinals.
"I think everybody that's still on our roster of our 75, we'll evaluate both tomorrow and Wednesday," Fox said. "We'll get on the plane to Arizona, (and) hopefully we'll have a better idea then. Obviously they're guys we like because they're on our 75, and we'll see how they work out this week, and we'll make those decisions then."