Broncos not only NFL team struggling to run football in preseason


Ten things about the Broncos after Saturday’s 42-15 loss to the Buffalo Bills:

1. Coach Nathaniel Hackett can take solace — the Broncos aren’t the only team this preseason with a bad running game. Through two games with an almost entirely backup offense, the Broncos rank last in rushing yards per game (35.5) and per carry (1.82). In Sunday’s 42-15 loss at Buffalo, the offense averaged 1.9 yards per attempt. But look around the NFL over the weekend and also laboring were Kansas City (2.6), Carolina (2.5), the Los Angeles Rams (2.3), Miami (2.1) and Pittsburgh and Indianapolis (both 1.7).

2. The Broncos shouldn’t be concerned since running backs Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon haven’t played yet. But what is the main issue? “Alignment (and) assignment are always the most important thing,” Hackett said. “We want to make sure they know what they’re doing. Then you go to their technique. … It’s a step-by-step process to see how all those guys are doing and that’s why (the preseason) is a great time.”

3. There was the predictable hue and cry after Gordon said Wednesday — accurately — the Broncos want Williams to be the No. 1 guy. Well, duh. Williams is a second-round draft pick selected by the current regime; Gordon is on a one-year contract. This should be Williams’ time after he was managed during his rookie year. But Gordon also knows there will be plenty of work for him (as a rusher and receiver). He will get his opportunities and this work-share set-up should extend his career.

4. The Broncos’ cornerback depth was a concern even before Michael Ojemudia sustained a dislocated right elbow in Saturday’s first half. No. 2 Ronald Darby (chest) and top nickel back K’Waun Williams (knee) have missed significant time during camp and Ojemudia was struggling against Buffalo’s top players at the time of his injury. So who’s the No. 3 outside guy after Pat Surtain II and a healthy Darby? Rookie Damarri Mathis would seem to be the front-runner. It will have to be an in-house choice because teams covet and protect their cornerback depth … if they have any.

5. Right guard Quinn Meinerz played the opening drive (13 snaps). “Some guys, they need that; they want that,” Hackett said. “Quinn hasn’t played a lot of football and we talked about it. He really wanted to get a couple of snaps and he was really, really happy with that first drive.”

6. What to make of the right tackle spot three weeks before the opener? Calvin Anderson took all of the first-team reps through the offseason program and the first several weeks of camp. But then he started against Dallas (the only one of the top five to do so), Cam Fleming saw first-team practice time last week and Anderson started against Buffalo and played 27 snaps. If you subscribe to Hackett’s theory about other players, the Broncos’ coaches probably felt Anderson — who hasn’t played much in his regular season career — needed the work. If you buy the cynical theory, they’re not happy with Anderson’s camp.

7. Playing-time notes (offense): Offensive linemen Zack Johnson and Luke Wattenberg (guard and center) played all 66 snaps. Among the likely players on the 53-man roster, guard/center Graham Glasgow played 31 snaps, Anderson 27, tight end Eric Saubert 25, tight end Albert Okwuegbunam 22, receiver Montrell Washington 18, running back Mike Boone 17, tight end Eric Tomlinson 16, Meinerz 13 and tight end/fullback Andrew Beck eight.


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