Five Things to Watch: Denver Broncos

Posted Aug 23, 2013

1.       Overall Improvement

Head Coach Jeff Fisher is looking to improve in several areas in the third preseason game. The Rams have converted seven of 27 third downs (25.9 percent) through the first two games of the preseason, but it’s the production on first and second down that will bring that percentage up. The combination of penalties and lost or no yardage on first and second down creates third-and-long situations that the team needs to avoid and will look to improve on this week. By picking up consistent yardage throughout the series, they will have a better chance to convert in more manageable situations.

An improvement in the giveaway/takeaway category is also something to watch. The Rams defense has not recorded a takeaways in either of the first two preseason contests. With the first team expecting extended playing time, watch for the unit to create their first turnovers of the preseason.

One of the main points of emphasis coming away from last week’s game against the Packers was poor tackling on defense. After focusing on that issue throughout the week, look for the defense to get back on track and bring opponents down at first contact.

2.       Emerging Players on Defense

With S Darian Stewart on the sideline with an injury, S Rodney McLeod stepped into the safety role against Green Bay last Saturday. McLeod is also very active on special teams. Watch for him to continue making plays in the secondary and on special teams in hopes to seal his spot on the 53-man roster.

DE Gerald Rivers is also a player that made the most out of his opportunity with his impressive outing against the Packers’ starting offensive linemen. Coaches will be watching Rivers closely to see if he can put together another strong outing.

3.       Committing to the Run

The Rams’ running backs have not seen as much action as expected throughout the first two preseason games because of the situations that the offense has been in and the defensive sets it has gone up against. If the Rams’ are able to stick to their game plan and not let the Broncos defense force them into passing situations, the running backs should get a heavy dose of reps.

4.       Spreading the Ball Around

QB Sam Bradford has done well distributing the ball to his receiving corps throughout the preseason. With the offensive weapons at Bradford’s disposal, he is able to pick the most favorable matchups on every play. The ability of the receivers has allowed Bradford to expose the opposing defense’s weakest spot in coverage. Look for Bradford to continue to throw to multiple receivers, allowing new and old targets to get into rhythm.

5.       Right Tackle

RT Rodger Saffold has taken reps in practice since sitting out last week’s game, but look for backup T Joe Barksdale to see some continued action in this week’s match-up. Barksdale started last week against the Packers in place of an injured Saffold and did well. It will be interesting to see how Barksdale continues to develop with added reps.