W2W4: Denver Broncos


The Denver Broncos (2-1) meet the Dallas Cowboys (0-3) Thursday night (8 ET) in AT&T Stadium in the preseason finale for both teams.

1. Somebody, anybody: There is a bit of self-preservation at work, but if it's not already too late, somebody on the Broncos' roster has to show the coaching staff he can catch a punt with some reliability and perhaps provide some impact in the return game along the way. Otherwise, the chances of the Broncos combing the list of transactions in the coming days to bring in a returner go up significantly. And if they bring somebody in, that means a Broncos player will have the unkindest cut of all -- one where you think you made the 53-man roster only to be released a day later. But since Jordan Norwood's season-ending knee injury, nobody has shown they can consistently make the plays fielding punts.

2. Tough decisions: It will bear watching which veterans, who don't project to be in the team's starting lineup, get the DNPs (did not play) in this one. Often those are players the team is considering releasing and do not want to suffer an injury that would require a settlement or a stint on injured reserve. The Broncos still have some roster spots in play, especially on the defensive line where things will be the tightest. If the Broncos keep just eight in the defensive front, and that is still the most likely scenario, Kevin Vickerson and Mitch Unrein could be playing for the last spot in the position group. It is a testament to the difference in depth on this roster and last year's given that both players were regulars in the rotations last season.

3. His night: The Broncos will not play any of their regulars in this one, so backup quarterback Brock Osweiler will get perhaps his most extensive work of the preseason. Granted, he hasn't played behind the starting offensive line or with the team's starting receivers, but he's completed just 55.6 percent of his passes in three preseason games -- 36 plays against the Seattle Seahawks, 24 plays each against the San Francisco 49ers and the Houston Texans. He has flashed a power arm and shown progress in how he runs a challenging offense. But he still needs to be more settled in the pocket, feel pressure sooner and slide to make throws. He's still too quick to run if things break down even a little and learn a lesson Peyton Manning has always said was one of the most important as a young quarterback, "that a punt is not necessarily a bad play," so he doesn't force a ball into coverage when he doesn't have to.