Some time ago I wrote a blog in which I stated that fans might not have heard of a lot of the new players, but I just asked readers to remember that everyone is unknown until he makes a name for himself.
In the garden of the National Football League, it is not much different than our own yards. If you plant the seeds and provide them with sunshine, water, fertilizer and some degree of weed control, the flowers will bloom.
Saturday night we played the Dallas Cowboys, a team that is regarded by all as one of the best in the National Football Conference and probably in the entire NFL as well.
They are big, strong, fast, and loaded with star power and glitz. The Cowboys have 13 players on their roster who were selected for the Pro Bowl in 2007.
We all know that pre-season is for learning, refining, and looking at new players, but there remains a scoreboard in every stadium, and we still make judgments.
Certainly, it is just one game, but a lot of our fans went into it not knowing much about Eddie Royal, really, and by halftime they knew they hope to see a lot more of him.
Of course, Royal is going to be a kick returner–everyone knew that when he was drafted–but it is obvious that he has a great future as a wide receiver as well. And he joins a group that has a lot of youth and talent already.
While what Royal did was visible to all, the play of Ryan Clady at left tackle was very highly regarded by Broncos coaches, but the work in the trenches is often overlooked by fans unless it results in a sack.
Clady was outstanding throughout his time in the game, which is remarkable for a rookie–but of course, he came to the Broncos with a superb resume.
Ryan Harris, who had very limited play as a rookie last year, also continued his excellent development at right tackle. Anytime a team is getting performance, plus potential, from both of its offensive tackles, and factoring in the consideration that the tackles are both essentially first year players, this is really a tremendous plus for an organization.
Not only do the Broncos have a lot of new and young players, but they all acquitted themselves well, including rookies such as Jack Williams, who intercepted the pass that sealed the win over the Cowboys, and linebacker Wesley Woodyard made a nice knockdown of a pass in the red zone.
Woodyard is an undrafted free agent, and he presently is fifth in the entire NFL in preseason tackles. Again, it is preseason, and critics might say that stats don’t matter.
But it always seems to matter when you lose or don’t have the stats.
Jay Cutler, who had a great off-season and has continued his play during camp and preseason, is second in the NFL with a 110.7 passer rating.
Young placekicker Matt Prater leads the NFL in scoring after two weekends of preseason play.
There is a long distance to travel from here to the regular season opener, and key for any player is to keep working and trying to improve every day, focusing on getting better rather than giving any thought to last week’s game.
But the worst weekend of rain this summer still saw over 60,000 fans go to the game, and they liked what they saw and left happy with the Broncos’ performance.
That’s one of the first steps in the process.
Like those flowers in the garden, the young players are blooming, and it will be fun to see how tall some of them grow.