Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks Player Countdown: Who to Watch on Denver

Christopher SmithCorrespondent IIIAugust 27, 2011

Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks Player Countdown: Who to Watch on Denver

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    The Denver Broncos face the Seattle Seahawks in their third preseason outing of the 2011 NFL season. The starters are expected to play for the majority of the game this week, and this gives us a great chance to see how John Fox has shaped his new squad.

    With only a few days remaining until the first major cuts of the season are announced, it’s up to every member of these two teams to make their bid for a position on the starting lineup. Rosters will be finalized in only a week from Sunday, on September 4th, 2011.

    It’s safe to assume that by now, John Fox and his staff are fairly sure of who their starters will be. However, there are still some players to keep an eye on, starting or not.

6) Elvis Dumervil

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    A very long year in football has passed without the play of Elvis Dumervil. It's easy to see that Denver fans miss him greatly.

    What makes Dumervil's return so exciting is that he's playing in camp better than he played when he led the NFL in sacks in 2009. He feels as if he's more conditioned, stronger and even faster after healing his season-ending injury of 2010.

    Months of rehabilitation have taught Dumervil how to better take care of his body and prepare himself for the bone crushing hits that are soon to ensue.

    An improvement from 2010 is a given, but an improvement on 2009 would be absolutely epic. Watch for Dumervil to show just how fast he's become as he strives to return to glory in 2011.

    If Dumervil and Von Miller are able to demonstrate vast improvements in Denver's defense, expect to hear a gasp of relief from the Denver population, and see a weight lifted off of head coach John Fox.

5) Tim Tebow

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    Of course he made this list.

    As much as most of us would love for Tim Tebow to drop off the map for a few weeks, we still need to see if he can add to Denver's offensive scheme.

    While Tebow certainly won't be Denver's starting quarterback this year, he can still add to their success. If used properly, Tebow can be a dangerous weapon in goal-line and short-yardage situations.

    Denver succeeded in using Tebow well last year, but under a different head coach. It's yet to be seen as to whether John Fox plans on using Tebow in his offense, or if he will remain solely a third-team player. Where as it makes a lot of sense to make Orton your starter, if would be foolish not to take advantage of what we know Tebow can do: make an impact.

    John Fox stated on Friday that he intends to give Tebow more playing time during this week's exhibition. After having played hardly any football last week, it's certain that Tim will be aching to deliver his fans something to be proud of on Saturday.

4) Julius Thomas

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    With the emergence of some great play from this summer’s draft picks, we all should be watching to see just how many rookies will be taking the field during the regular season for the Denver Broncos.

    Rookie tight end Julius Thomas has had a promising camp, and has excelled in his assignments during the preseason. As a player for Portland State University, Thomas was named an All-Big Sky Conference selection in 2010. He had not played collegiate level football prior to this year. Before this, he played four years of basketball and broke a few records while he was at it.

    Most of the fundamentals of the game can be taught right on the practice field, but others can come from the court. Julius Thomas says he’s taken what he’s learned in basketball and transferred it into his pass and run blocking game.

    As for his basketball career, Julius says, “There’s not a lot of demand for a 6’5” power forward in today’s NBA.”

    Thomas has stirred quite a following already in Denver. Look for him to make a statement with the first team during Saturday's exhibition with Seattle.

3) Kyle Orton

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    Kyle Orton may have had the most scrutinized preseason of any player in the NFL. Well, except of course for that other guy.

    The starting quarterback position was originally Orton's to lose. Then before anything had started, he had lost it. Then, very suddenly again, he had it back. And none of this has sat very well for Tim Tebow fans.

    Looking past the media frenzy that has followed this position over the last month, Orton has certainly had a successful preseason. He's taken back his job as the starting quarterback and cemented it with smart, efficient play against the Buffalo Bills.

    Kyle Orton will carry the first team offense for longer this week than either of the previous two. If there was a time for Kyle to prove this starting job is his, it's right now.

    Until the regular season starts, and the real games begin, this Week 3 scrimmage will serve as the best judge of ability for Orton.

    If he plans on keeping his job, and attempting to silence the critics, he must have a great game. If Orton does not deliver the offense into the end zone at least three times during his time on the field, there's no telling what the "Tebowmaniacs" will throw his way.

    It is safe to say, however, that if Orton plays poorly, the jury will be out on him again. The last thing the Denver Broncos organization needs now is a continuation of the drama that persists over the quarterback position.

    It's up to Kyle Orton to stop the madnessfor Broncos fans, for the front office, for everyone.

2) Knowshon Moreno

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    After two years of disappointment, it's time that Knowshon Moreno made himself out to be anything other than a draft bust.

    Knowshon enters his third year with high expectations. So far his career consists of what some thought was close to a breakout rookie year in 2009 as he rushed for 947 yards. One year after, his 779 yards just looked pathetic.

    Sure, his offensive line was poor, but if his stats don't improve, look for Moreno in another jersey next year.

    With Willis McGahee brought in to help lighten the load, Moreno should stay fresh on his feet and become an integral part of Denver's high-powered offensive attack. (High-powered is an optimistic guess at this point, as I have no idea exactly how well they will play.)

    Moreno needs a great game, and he needs it now, even in the preseason. Only 50 yards or more will do in the first half on Saturday, and it would certainly be a plus if Moreno can find the end zone and help relieve Kyle Orton of his red-zone duties—which he failed to perform last season.

1) Von Miller

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    In just a few snaps over the course of the preseason, Von Miller has done his best to show his coaches and his new fans just why he was picked at No. 2 overall in the 2011 NFL draft.

    He's displayed great speed, and a great ability to get to the quarterback and disrupt plays.

    This week, we'll have the opportunity to see maybe three full quarters of play from the young linebacker. It won't take much to impress Denver Broncos fans after last year's dismal defensive drought. But it seems Miller plans on going above and beyond when his name is called.

    Expect to see plenty of pass-rushing during this exhibition as Denver will look to move the Seattle Seahawks' Tarvaris Jackson around in the pocket, and force him to use his legs. Von Miller will do best to contain the quarterback and make some clean open-field tackles.

    The Denver defense from 2010 left much to be desired, but Miller and his linebacker corps of D.J. Williams, Jason Hunter and Mario Haggan will look to show fans just why they're the talk of the town.