Under normal circumstances, the Broncos would have closed out their preseason schedule Thursday night in Arizona and followed with two days of deliberations to set the initial 53-man roster.
But ahead of Saturday’s 2 p.m. cut-down deadline, the Broncos will practice Friday night at Mile High, their 17th and final training camp workout.
Two of the factors that will come into play: Special teams contributors and the make-up of the 16-player practice squad.
On special teams, kicker Brandon McManus, punter Sam Martin and long snapper Jacob Bobenmoyer are set, but identifying core players who can play on multiple coverage/return units is ongoing.
“I’m going to try and get more punts (Friday),” coach Vic Fangio said after Thursday’s practice. “We do need more of that.”
It’s safe to assume some of the core special teams players will be safety Trey Marshall (team-high 313 special teams snaps last year), inside linebacker Josey Jewell (257), outside linebacker Malik Reed (204), tight end/fullback Andrew Beck (197) and cornerback Davontae Harris (161).
One roster battle is likely choosing between veteran Joe Jones (277 special teams snaps last year) and Josh Watson.
Watson would likely clear waivers and be signed to the practice squad. This year’s one-time rule allows for four of the practice squad players to be veterans.
“I think it’s a good thing they’ve expanded the practice squad,” Fangio said. “I’m hoping that stays forever. I’ve been saying it for a long time — we don’t have a minor league in the NFL like baseball, basketball and hockey so we need more people on the practice squad to try and develop them and it helps during practice in the season the more guys you have around. It just keeps giving us a chance to develop players.”
K. Jackson gets day off. Broncos safety Kareem Jackson missed his first practice of training camp.
“Kareem just begged me for a vet day so I relented after he put a cupcake on my desk,” Fangio joked.
New to the injury report were Beck and rookie tight end Albert Okwuegbunam.
Fangio said Beck has “a little tightness in his back. We think he’ll be fine and ready to roll by the next week.”
Okwuegbunam, Fangio said, has a “little hip problem.”
Outside linebacker Von Miller practiced after getting Wednesday off.
Yiadom exits. The Broncos traded cornerback Isaac Yiadom to the New York Giants on Wednesday for a 2021 seventh-round draft pick, basically an admission he was going to be cut this weekend.
“I don’t know if it was anything in particular,” Fangio said when asked why Yiadom didn’t pan out with the Broncos. “I just think it was a good opportunity to give Ike a fresh start back on the East Coast. I’ll be his biggest cheerleader. I hope he makes us look bad and is a great player there. It just didn’t work out here to the extent he wanted and we wanted it to, but I’m hoping the new surroundings benefit him and his career.”
Yiadom’s trade and the addition of offensive tackle Darrin Paulo leaves the Broncos’ roster at 79 players.