AFC West: 080912 preseason obs

Observation deck: Broncos-Bears

August, 9, 2012

A look at the Broncos’ 31-3 road win Thursday night:

Yes, Peyton Manning's first game action in 19 months ended with an interception near the goal line.

However, there is no other way to slice it -- Manning’s Denver Broncos debut was a success.

"He was remarkable," Denver coach John Fox said in halftime quotes distributed by the team. "He came back -- he’s worked very hard. He hasn’t played football in [almost] two years. I thought it was a good first drive in these conditions -- it was sloppy. It was sloppy by the receivers as far as the conditions but I thought it was a very good first outing."

On a rainy night in Chicago, Manning, who missed all of last season with a neck injury, completed 4 of 7 passes for 44 yards. He had a dropped pass and his interception came from a deflection of a pass intended for Brandon Stokley on what could have been a touchdown. I’m sure Manning and the Broncos will live with his first preseason game ending on a deflected interception.

Manning looked crisp and he led the offense at a fast tempo. He showed his patented anticipation and accuracy on a 19-yard bullet to Eric Decker on third-and-17.

This is a work in progress and the Broncos have to be pleased with the first step.

Meanwhile, it was a strong overall night from the Broncos. Denver looked pretty good.

Defensive lineman Derek Wolfe, a second-round pick, was a stud. He had two sacks. He has been outstanding in the training camp and he was just as aggressive against the Bears.

Overall, Denver’s defense looked good. It was aggressive and made a lot of plays on every layer of the defense.

Second-round pick Brock Osweiler looked comfortable at quarterback, completing 4 of 7 passes for 38 yards. Caleb Hanie was OK, but I can see Osweiler pushing him for the No. 2 job at some point this year.

Overall, this was a good first night for Manning and his new team.

A look at the Chargers’ 21-13 home win Thursday night:

As Philip Rivers’ said in a sideline interview with ESPN, the Chargers’ offense was good and bad. The good was a 23-yard dart Rivers hit tight end Antonio Gates with for a touchdown. Gates is healthy for the first time since 2007 and he has been outstanding in training camp. That was a good sign.

However, Rivers made a mistake later when Green Bay cornerback Tramon Williams jumped in front of a pass intended for new San Diego receiver Robert Meachem deep in Green Bay territory. It was probably just a matter of timing for Rivers and Meachem. However, Rivers threw 20 interceptions last season and he must improve in that area.
  • The San Diego first-team defense looked strong, which is a great sign. It did allow Green Bay to covert on third down on its first two attempts. San Diego was last in the NFL in third-down defense last year. But overall, San Diego’s first unit looked terrific and aggressive on defense. Overall, the Chargers’ first-team offense and defenses looked further along than the Packers' did.
  • First-round pick Melvin Ingram played extensively. He looked fabulous. If San Diego wasn’t shaking with delight over the prospect of having Ingram before Thursday, it should be now. Boy, is he explosive. He forced Aaron Rodgers into throwing an interception and he was all over the place.
  • Undrafted free-agent quarterback Jarrett Lee looked really good for San Diego and outplayed Green Bay backup Graham Harrell much of the night. He made some big league throws. I’d be shocked if Lee doesn’t make the 53-man roster as the No. 3 quarterback behind Rivers and Charlie Whitehurst, who is still recovering from a knee injury.
  • Reserve receiver Vincent Brown worked hard for the final 7 yards of a 27-yard touchdown pass from Lee, and Brown had a good night overall. I think he will be a key contributor in the season.
  • Running back Ryan Mathews hurt his shoulder and was taken out. There is no word on the status. It is not a surprise that he was taken out after the injury even if it was minor. Update: the San Diego Union-Tribune reports Mathews suffered a broken clavicle. He will be out four to six weeks. I will have more this later.
  • Kicker Nick Novak missed a 35-yard field goal attempt, further making Nate Kaeding the favorite to win the kicking competition. Novak replaced Kaeding last season when Kaeding tore his ACL on the opening kickoff of the season.
  • Receiver/returner Michael Spurlock is making a big push to make the 53-man roster. He had two catches for 52 yards.
  • Undrafted free-agent left tackle Mike Harris started for the injured Jared Gaither. Harris had a nice night, which is commendable for an undrafted rookie who started his first preseason game at a premium position. Harris should easily make the team.
  • It was a cool scene to see some San Diego players greet replacement official Shannon Eastin prior to the game. She is the first woman to officiate an NFL game.