While the 10-6 Broncos’ victory was anything but a Rembrandt, Denver found some vital information on several prospects who may be able to contribute to the team’s success moving forward.
Obviously, Peyton Manning and the rest of the starters did not play long, as that is often the case with how NFL teams conduct Week 1 of the preseason, but many neophytes stepped up in what can be considered their first legit attempt at on-game action.
The major star for the Broncos in the August 8 game at Candlestick Park was Duke Ihenacho, a name which is not that big presently, but soon will be, for all intents and purposes.
Ihenacho, a 24-year-old San Jose State product who spent the 2012 season on the Broncos’ practice squad after being an undrafted acquisition, amassed a game-high seven tackles as well as a forced fumble.
Ihenacho’s propensity to swarm to the football instantaneously made him a fan favorite in Bronco Country, ushering forth memories of Steve Atwater, a career-long Bronco who played a crucial role in both of the franchise’s Super Bowl championship teams in the late 1990′s.
In fact, much of the time, from my perusal of the film, it seemed as if Ihenacho were another linebacker in the box as the majority of his tackles came near the line of scrimmage, suggesting that this is a rare case when a defensive back with high tackle numbers isn’t a negative thing for a defense.
Additionally, C.J. Anderson, an undrafted tailback from California, excelled, primarily in the second half which is notable because of reserve linemen in as well, ran for a team-high 69 yards on the evening.
The 5’8″ 224-pound tailback, much like Ihenacho, is beginning to win the affection of Broncos’ SB Nation site Mile High Report’s faithful and some hope him to be a latter-day incarnation of Broncos legend Terrell Davis.
While it is presumptuous after one preseason game to make such comparisons, it does bear mentioning that oddly enough, in a 1995 preseason game against the 49ers in Tokyo, Davis made a dynamic special teams tackle on returner Tyronne Drakeford.
The rest in this regard, as they say, was history, so it will be intriguing to see where Anderson goes from here.
Furthermore, punter Britton Colquitt and kicker Matt Prater, who nailed a 46-yard field goal, (no small feat considering he struggles consistently from 40-49 yards) at Candlestick, not necessarily the greatest venue to kick in, did well as did a defense which forced five turnovers.
I will not be too critical of the Broncos for not amassing any points on those turnovers as it is only the preseason and if Manning and the starters were in, reason suggests they would have been more productive.
In short, there were many things for front office personnel and coaches to review and it will be interesting to see what unfolds for the second preseason game, August 17, against the Seattle Seahawks.