Broncos stock watch after preseason game 1: Essang Bassey stands out
Aug 14, 2023, 3:42 AM | Updated: 3:47 am
(Photo by Andrew Mason / DenverSports.com)
A few players whose fortunes jumped out from the preseason opener:
RB Jaleel McLaughlin: When the undrafted rookie entered, he delivered, dominating the Broncos’ final touchdown drive. He didn’t break off the kind of explosive runs he had in training camp, but his vision and decisiveness kept the Broncos on or ahead of schedule. He’s earned a longer look in future games.
CB Ja’Quan McMillian: By making plays on special teams as well as defense, McMillian staked his claim to a roster spot. He plays with energy and feistiness that serves him well.
WR Jalen Virgil: He might be the best candidate to execute the end-around on the roster. His stride and speed helps him accumulate yardage in a hurry; his 25-yard scamper was the Broncos’ second-longest gain of the night.
CB Essang Bassey: Although the Wake Forest alumnus benefitted from Rondale Moore falling on the well-worn grass as he ran his slant route, Bassey still did very well at diagnosing the intent of the play, learning from a similar call and route on the previous third down. That’s the sort of quickly-applied knowledge you love to see. Bassey staked his claim to the backup slot role.
DLs Elijah Garcia and Matt Henningsen: Playmaking ability could be the difference on the defensive line. And both Garcia and Henningsen flashed.
OL Luke Wattenberg: Arizona overloaded the left flank of the Broncos’ field-goal protection group and overpowered the second-year offensive lineman. Wattenberg’s path to the roster likely rests on special teams. He will need to be stouter against the rush on placekicking protection.
QB Jarrett Stidham: The interception wasn’t all of his woes on a frustrating night. As Cecil Lammey and I have noted on Orange and Blue Today, Stidham’s level is much closer to that of third-teamer Ben DiNucci than Russell Wilson’s. Stidham has a ways to go in his development.
LT Garett Bolles: On balance, his game wasn’t as bad as the one sack allowed made it seem. However, the fact that he was beaten around the outside shoulder caused the mind’s eye to see other similar plays he’s endured in training camp as he works his way back from a fractured ankle. Getting back to form could take a bit of time.
C Kyle Fuller: Playing guard, the former Seahawks center allowed multiple pressures in a 27-play stint. He’ll need a good bounce-back game against the 49ers on Saturday.
CB Delonte Hood: Arizona found success targeting him late on its game-winning touchdown drive.
QB Russell Wilson: On balance, it was not a bad night for the 12-year veteran quarterback. He settled in as the game progressed — although the Cardinals did make personnel changes while Wilson and the No. 1 offense lingered in the game into the second quarter. Two drops — including one by Jerry Jeudy — did not help his cause. Nor did the constant pressure under which he operated.
RB Samaje Perine: He delivered a solid performance getting the reps in place of Javonte Williams. Perine isn’t the best in the room at any one aspect of the gig, but he’s a solid all-around contributor with no glaring weaknesses.