By the time the Broncos are done in the preseason, their defense will have at least kicked the tires on how they will play quarterbacks at each end of the spectrum.
In the preseason opener last week, they got a look – albeit a short one – at Colin Kaepernick. And in his 12-play cameo the Broncos saw every bit of the mobility and upper-tier arm strength that helped power the 49ers into the Super Bowl last season.
In his only drive, Kaepernick was 4-of-4 passing for 38 yards to go with a 6-yard run as he led the 49ers on 13-play, 67-yard jaunt through the Broncos defensive starters. In all, the 49ers held the ball for 7 minutes, 7 seconds, closing out the possession with a field goal.
"That’s a good offense, but we know that’s not really us," said cornerback Champ Bailey. “We have to be better than that and we are. But that’s what the preseason’s for, to work all that out. But that’s a pretty good offense with a special guy at quarterback. Just the kind of thing that shows you what the season’s about."
Saturday night the Broncos get a look at Russell Wilson, another mobile passer with the kind of arm that made him a Colorado Rockies draft pick. Wilson also carries himself with a wise-beyond-his-years composure when things get tight to go with almost unshakable confidence. The Broncos regulars are expected to play most, or all, of the first half Saturday night in Seattle.
And in the third preseason outing, likely the last gameday work the Broncos defensive starters will get in August, the Broncos will see the St. Louis Rams’ Sam Bradford, a largely pocket passer with quality accuracy.
“It’s probably a good thing for us,’’ Bailey said. “It kind of gets everybody in that routine of getting ready for one kind of quarterback, then turn around a week later and get another one. That’s how the season goes.
“The young guys need to see that. In college, it can look the same a lot of times: similar offenses, similar quarterbacks. I think in this league you learn every guy brings a lot to the table or they wouldn’t be here and every guy can hurt you in different ways. If you can't adjust, they'll score points and hurt you.’’
It does mirror -- at least some -- how the Broncos will open the regular season. In the first two weeks they’ll get the Ravens Joe Flacco and the Giants Eli Manning, pocket passers in the more traditional mode, each with at least one Super Bowl win on his resume.
In Week 4, they have the possibility of facing Michael Vick in Chip Kelly’s high-speed attack with the Eagles if Vick indeed wins the quarterback competition. And in Weeks 7 and 8, the Broncos get Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III in back-to-back games, the two quarterbacks who top what could the be the remember-when draft class of 2012.
“I think that is true -- you don’t see that big a difference in college with the guys back there,’’ said Broncos defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson. “It changes how you rush, what you play on the back end, all of those things. We all have to adjust every week, you know, but for the young guys that’s kind of the thing -- you have to be ready to go from one quarterback to a totally different guy in a few days. That’s the way this league goes. If you can’t get prepared every week, they don’t keep you around very long.’’