It won’t be remembered as a great game from the standpoint of entertainment value, or for the high level of play on display. Nor will it be remembered for the high-profile names participating for either the Denver Broncos or Atlanta Falcons, because the vast majority of high-profile players sat this one out.
In fact, the preseason opener for both teams, held in Canton, Ohio, was typically forgettable for a preseason contest where the primary objective for both teams was to get through the game without major injuries and look at players who might or might not be on the roster for the start of the 2019-2020 season.
Despite the mundane nature of the contest, and typical of a diehard Broncos fan, I admittedly took some notes and made a few observations while nobody was looking.
Just making meaningful observations is somewhat challenging when both teams are playing second, third and fourth-string players.
After all, every great play your team makes occurs against second, third, and fourth-stringers from the other team.
Unsung players and unfamiliar names sort of distort the picture and leave spectators wondering what mighthave happened if top-tier talents like Von Miller or Phillip Lindsay were on the field.
But such is the nature of preseason football.
I was curious about how our second-round selection, quarterback Drew Lock, would perform.
He performed about like any rookie quarterback, and at times took on the proverbial deer-in-headlights look.
Head coach Vic Fangio was critical of the rookie after the game, explaining that this is the first time Lock has played in a pro-style offense and that he simply isn’t ready yet.
Lock completed 7 of 11 passes for 34 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions.
Through his struggles, though, I thought Lock looked the part and showed enough athleticism to eventually grow into the job. In other words, he didn’t look like a player destined to wind up in the Canadian Football League.
Nor did he look as uncomfortable as other lofty draft picks or hopeful free agents who rendered deflating results at that same position for the Broncos in recent seasons.
Quarterbacks Brett Rypien and Kevin Hogan also got time under center for the Broncos.
Rypien is an undrafted rookie from Boise State, and the nephew of former NFL quarterback Mark Rypien.
Rypien made the most of his debut, throwing for a touchdown while completing 5 of 10 passes.
Hogan also looked serviceable, going 5-8 for 37 yards.
Another point of interest for me was first-round pick and tight end Noah Fant. Fant turned heads at the scouting combine with an abundance of speed, size and overall athleticism, but has had a quiet, and at times, disappointing camp.
He failed to show much against the Falcons, either, garnering one catch for seven yards.
Let’s hope that gets better as the preseason schedule grinds along, and that Fant’s physical attributes begin to start showing up on game days.
One Bronco who turned heads was running back Kahlfani Muhammad, a 2017 seventh-round draft pick from the University of California.
Muhammad, based on what I saw, should be a lock to make the team. He ripped off a couple of nifty runs, caught passes out of the backfield and made defenders miss badly at times in the open field.
Muhammad only carried the ball seven times, but averaged 7.1 yards per carry for 50 yards and a touchdown. He also caught four passes out of the backfield.
All in all, if the game was any indication of things to come, the Broncos look very good defensively, with work yet to be done on the offensive side of the equation.
The next preseason thriller is set for Aug. 8 against the Seahawks.
Perhaps soon brief appearances by the first-string offensive and defensive units will serve to spice things up and make for a more spectator-friendly experience.
I, for one, would appreciate that.