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Things to watch in Broncos' preseason finale

Battle for roster spots intensifies at WR, CB
Broncos 49ers Football
Posted at 4:42 PM, Aug 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-26 18:42:01-04

DENVER — The Broncos make their preseason home debut Saturday. They sold off last year’s model for parts. There is a new-car smell – or perhaps that is hamburgers and hot dogs grilling in Lot J.

The final exhibition game is Hunger Games. This is the last opportunity to grab a roster spot for those players on the margins. The Broncos faced the Rams in joint practices on Wednesday and Thursday, so it’s likely Denver’s starters play. If they do, it is not expected to go more than a series.

The No. 1 goal is to exit the game healthy, especially at receiver after Jerry Jeudy strained his right hamstring Thursday, leaving him out roughly 3-to-4 weeks. The second priority is finding the right fits for the 53-man roster, which must be set by 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

My Denver7 things to watch for:

Who steps up at receiver?
I do not expect Jeudy to be ready for the season opener. He could still make the roster and avoid IR, but somebody needs to fill the void. It starts with Courtland Sutton, second-year pro Brandon Johnson, rookie Marvin Mims Jr. and Kendall Hinton. Then who? Based on production this summer Lil Jordan Humphrey has a great shot to stick. Marquez Callaway is on the bubble because he has not made many plays despite his experience in the system. Taylor Grimes projects as a practice squader.

Can Albert O stick?
Albert Okwuegbunam had little chance to make it when camp began. Then something funny happened. He began blocking and catching touchdowns. If he finishes strong vs. Rams, can he edge out Nate Adkins for a final spot? It’s going to be tough. But Albert O has at least shown promise to put himself on the bubble.

Elijah on the team?
Lost in Jaleel McLaughlin’s great story, Elijah Garcia has turned heads along the defensive line. He told Denver7 he could not wait to play in Empower Field and see the new Jumbotron. It is spectacular. Garcia has been OK in practice, but keeps making plays in the game, including an interception last week. He’s made a strong case to stick.

Others to watch
Tackle Alex Palczewski is a grinder, a tough guy, who played a million snaps in college and is pushing to be a reserve offensive lineman. At running back, I have McLaughlin on the team. Does that leave room for Tony Jones or Tyler Badie? My guess is no, but weird things can happen over the final few days. As for a third QB? I believe the Broncos can get Ben DiNucci through waivers and place him on the practice squad rather than carry him on the active roster.