ENGLEWOOD, Co. - It wasn't so much of a game as it was an audition.
An audition that would determine the future employment of players considered to be "on the bubble", with only slight chances of making this year's roster.
For some their chances improved, for other the bubble may have burst.
Dueling quarterbacks Jarious Jackson and Danny Kannell, who split time throughout the evening, played out to a draw. Kanell had the better numbers but his inexperience within the system led to a third quarter Seahawk interception. Nick Rolovich, a teammate of wide receiver Ashley Lelie at Hawaii, got minimul time during the final quarter and was unable to mount any sort of attack.
Our pick stands with Jackson to be retained at the No. 3 quarterback position.
The five players jockeying at wide receiver were about as unimpressive as you could get. Adrian Madise and Herb Haygood caught two passes for 28 and 23-yards respectively, while Charlie Adams caught one reception for 9-yards. Frank Rice and Nate Jackson did not catch a ball.
Rice did however make a great stab at a possible special teams position, returning a Seattle punt 61-yards, setting up a Jason Elam field goal to give the Broncos a 17-3 lead. Rice finished the game with three returns for 75-yards.
"I am telling people right now not to call me from about eight o'clock tomorrow until eleven or so, said Rice. "I just don't want to get a call and have any scares. I always say that I could have done better, but I did what I could and now it's all a waiting process."
Other that helped their cause included rookie running back Cecil Sapp. The undrafted free agent had 15 carries for52-yards including a one-yard touchdown plunge midway through the third quarter.
"I thought Cecil did some good things," said head coach Mike Shanahan. "As a young guy coming in he got a chance to get some good carries."
Whether or not that chance was enough to secure him a roster spot in Denver remains to be seen, but his performance may have opened the eyes of some other teams should the Broncos include him in the list of eighteen players scheduled to be cut this weekend.
"I've put my college days behind me," said Sapp. "This is a whole new level and I've had to raise my play that much more. I've pushed myself day in and day out, and now it's time to see what happens. I just hope I did enough to stick around for the year."
Undoubtedly should Sapp be released, his chances of competing somewhere else remain quite high.
The same holds true for tight end Patrick Hape, the first Denver Bronco to score a touchdown at Invesco Field. Limited by a pulled quadricep muscle during training camp, Hape made the most of his night with a highlight reel 39-yard catch, setting up the Broncos only scoring drive of the first half. He also drew a pass interference penalty in the end zone against Seattle cornerback Marcus Trufant, leading to a Mike Anderson touchdown run, putting Denver ahead 10-3.
With Shannon Sharpe's spot set in stone, Hape battles Dwayne Carswell, Jeb Putzier and long-snapper Mike Leach for a possible backup role. While his two catches for 55-yards will certainly work in his favor, his limited playing time throughout camp may eventually lead to his release in Denver.
"I'm always a guy on the bubble and I plan on it being that way," Hape told reporters afterward. "I just come in and work hard and try and make myself a spot one way or another. I hope this helped my chances."
With cuts scheduled to be made this weekend, coaches now begin the process of elimination, hoping to secure the best possible roster for the 2003 season.
We'll get a chance to go back and take a look at the film, and make some decisions," said Shanahan. "Overall I'm really pleased with the effort. I think the young guys really went out there and played hard. I think when you have that type of effort in the last preseason game, it makes you feel good about the quality of the people you have."
"As I mentioned, it's going to make for some tough decisions."
On the Bubble....
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