Denver Broncos Preseason: 5 Keys to Watch for in Matchup with Dallas Cowboys

Jason Muckley@@jamuckleySenior Analyst IIAugust 10, 2011

Denver Broncos Preseason: 5 Keys to Watch for in Matchup with Dallas Cowboys

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    I can’t wait for this season to start, and tomorrow the Broncos match up with the Cowboys for their first preseason game. With all of the new additions and endless talk about the Broncos 2011 roster, you may not know what to expect out of the new regime and new faces you will see on the field. I want to offer to you the five keys to the first preseason game for the Broncos to keep an eye on for Thursday night. For Denver residents, the game starts at 6:30 p.m. and is on NBC (K-USA).

1st Key to Watch For: Orton / Tebow / Quinn Developments

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    Practice is over. Let the real competition begin. Head Coach John Fox says he is looking for a “gamer”. To me, I feel like the quarterback depth chart will be determined when the pressure is on out on the field, facing real opposing defenses.

    Who will shine on Thursday night? That quarterback will have the leg up on the depth chart.

    The Cowboys defense has some holes due to injuries and a lackluster free agency effort. There are a lot of new faces on defense and it may work to the tenuous situation at quarterback for the Broncos.

2nd Key to Watch For: How Will the Broncos’ Defensive Upgrades Impact Games

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    John Fox made a conscious effort to bring in top-quality defensive help to the Broncos, a team who had to outscore their opponents to get a victory. In the later stages of games last year, as the defense wore down, the Broncos watched leads deteriorate as their ineptitude glared.

    I am excited to see the many pieces the Broncos added on defense and how they work together to create a fierce and formidable defense. In only one (long) offseason the Broncos have made big changes, which hopefully will equal big results.

3rd Key to Watch For: Rookie Contributions

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    In the recently released preseason depth chart, there were three 2011 NFL Draft picks listed as starters. The rookie that is poised to make the most significant impact is hard-hitting strong side linebacker Von Miller, who the Broncos selected with the No. 2 overall pick in this year's NFL Draft.

    Miller is one of the most highly regarded rookies of his class and although the Broncos expect some growing pains initially, they still would like to see major contributions. His closing speed to get to the quarterback and running backs out of the backfield will be exciting to see.

    Other rookies who have been awarded starting spots include free safety Rahim Moore and right tackle Orlando Franklin. Watch for these rookies as they adjust to the speed of the game on Thursday night.

4th Key to Watch For: Running Back Rotations

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    Knowshon Moreno was given the starting job at running back, which indicates to me that he will be getting the bulk of the carries. But also look for Willis McGahee to come in for short yardage and important drives, especially in the red zone. 

    McGahee has a knack for the end zone, something that Moreno hasn’t been able to sniff out thus far in his NFL career. Fox will also be mixing in fullbacks and taking a look at Lance Ball who could back up Moreno.

5th Key to Watch For: Return of Doom

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    Watch for Elvis Dumervil to make an immediate impact in his first game back. Broncos fans have long-awaited his return when there was a noticeable lack of pass rush last season. His return will energize the new group of defensive hands brought in by John Fox.

    His leadership and passion will be the spark that ignites the defense to a new level. With Dumervil on the field everyone around him gets better.