CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Those critics who believe there should be one preseason game before heading into the regular season continue to gain fodder.
The Broncos will stage their first controlled scrimmage Saturday, and it will likely occur without at least two defensive starters. Safety T.J. Ward left Friday's practice with a right hamstring injury, and inside linebacker Todd Davis sat for a second straight day with a sprained shoulder.
Reached Friday afternoon, Ward told Denver7 the injury scared him, but that he "will be OK. Ward walked off the field slowly with a trainer early in practice, but was not in visible pain and barely showed any signs of a limp. Davis, according to coach Vance Joseph, is day-to-day. It's hard to overstate Ward's importance. Beyond his toughness and hard hits, he functions as a coach on the field.
"We know what type of player T.J. is and what he means to this defense," free safety Darian Stewart said.
Keeping players healthy remains part skill, part luck this time of year. Sometimes non-contact drills gobble up stars as witnessed in Miami with quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who is facing potential season-ending knee surgery. The Broncos lost running back Devontae Booker before camp with a fractured wrist and outside linebacker Shane Ray with a torn ligament in his wrist a week ago. Booker, Ray, and Shaquil Barrett (hip) are expected to be ready roughly Sept. 23, though a mapped out plan will be easier to follow as more healing occurs. '
Joseph said Von Miller will play in the scrimmage. It makes sense since it's a controlled environment. It's unclear if Miller will play in the preseason.
As for the quarterbacks, Joseph did not name a starter for the game. Trevor Siemian, who enjoyed arguably his best day, and Paxton Lynch, who showed flashes but struggled with consistency, will split reps between the first and second-teams. Siemian has taken a slight lead in the competition with back-to-back strong outings.
Joseph revealed the starting offensive line for Saturday's scrimmage. Word of caution: it might not look anything like this for the regular season. The No. 1s: rookie left tackle Garett Bolles, left guard Max Garcia, center Connor McGovern, right guard Billy Turner and right tackle Menelik Watson. Bolles has moved ahead in the race for the left tackle spot. However, Allen Barbre remains in the mix for the starting left guard position. McGovern is filling in for Matt Paradis, whose schedule is mapped out to keep him healthy for the season opener following offseason hip surgeries. Ronald Leary has dealt with a groin issue, leaving Turner to take over at right guard.
Receiver Isaiah McKenzie showed his versatility Friday in a variety of offensive sets. In an ideal world, McKenzie would give the Broncos even a version of Kansas City's Tyreek Hill. Most impressive about McKenzie? He rebounded after a brutal drop in Thursday's practice. The coaches have been stressing the importance of the "next play" during drills. McKenzie responded with a great performance on the next day. ... Former coach Gary Kubiak, now a scout for the Broncos, attended practice and received a warm welcome from his former players. Kubiak watched part of practice with John Elway. . ... Rookie DeMarcus Walker remains impressive in his time at outside linebacker. He won his matchup multiple times in 1-on-1 drills. ... Running back Jamaal Charles came out of Thursday's workload with no problems with his knee. However, he will not play in the scrimmage, slated to return Monday.