If Sunday night's third preseason game against Houston proved anything, it proved that the Denver Broncos face some pretty tough decisions over the next few days.
With mandatory cuts coming on Tuesday, several top quality players will undoubtedly find themselves scrambling to find employment among thirty-one other NFL franchises.
Broncos Update Columnist Schon takes a look at a few of those on the bubble, and how their future may, or may not play out in the Mile High City.
QB BRADLEE VAN PELT:
Cutler's emergence as the second slot quarterback puts a huge question mark on Van Pelt's run behind Jake Plummer. The Broncos have often carried three passers in the past, but this year may play out differently with more pressing needs at other positions. While the third-year quarterback may survive the initial cut this week, it's doubtful Denver will waste a roster spot on the off-chance both Plummer and Cutler go down.
It wouldn't surprise me if Gary Kubiak and the Houston Texans make a push to pick him up should the Broncos decide to release him. Kubiak has seen the dedication and work ethic first hand, and with David Carr at the helm, Van Pelt may be a no-brainer for Houston.
QB PRESTON PARSONS
RB RON DAYNE
Going into camp many thought Dayne had a legitimate shot to crack the starting lineup, but the former Heisman winner hit the wall hard with a toe injury and hasn't seen action the past two weeks. Considering the success Denver's had with unknown running backs, Dyane's days in Denver may be numbered and, if I had to guess, that number may be two.
RB DAMIAN NASH
Nash unfortunately finds himself behind the eight ball in an overcrowded backfield. Through the first three games of the preseason Nash ranks fourth on the team in total yards, looking very impressive against his former team, the Tennessee Titans, but with the Bell's and Cedric Cobb riding the wave ahead of him, Nash's best play will be elsewhere. A perfect candidate for the practice squad, although it's unlikely he won't be picked up elsewhere once released.
RB CEDRICK COBBS
Former member of the Broncos practice squad has turned quite a few heads lately with an "in your face" approach to the ball, breaking out a beautiful 26-yard touchdown run against the Houston Texans. With Ron Dayne nursing a toe, Cobbs stands an excellent chance of sliding in behind the Bell tandem as the Broncos third running back. The fact he can also return kickoffs plays out huge in his favor. Consider it a semi-lock.
K PAUL ERNSTER
Dude can flat out kick. Unfortunately he's stuck behind Todd Sauerbrun, who's been suspended through the first four games of the season for steroid violations. Micah Knoor is also in the fold, but the kid from Northern Arizona has shown considerably more potential and would certainly fall into the number two slot, should the Broncos decide to keep two kickers, in addition to Jason Elam on the roster. Knoor is the odd man out here, with Ernster close on his heels once Sauerbrun returns. Reality bites.
WR CHARLIE ADAMS
Despite the fact that the team bailed on him in a trade to Dallas earlier in the week, Adams stands a better than average shot at making the final roster. He's seen time in all three preseason games so far and with his extensive work on special teams, the four-year veteran has shown a willingness to do what it takes. That plays out huge in Mike Shanahan's game plan.
MOST LIKELY BUYING LUGGAGE (possible practice squad)
OLT Javier Collins, DLT Patrice Majondo-Mwamba, FB Rashon Powers-Neal, LE Corey Jackson, RT Bryan Save, TE Chad Mustard, RT Eric Pears and RE Khaleed Vaughn.
With the starting unit resting for the final preseason game, those who survive Tuesday's initial cut will have one last opportunity to turn heads as the Broncos head to the surface of the Sun for a game against the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday.
Stay tuned to Broncos Update.com for all the latest roster moves and inside information as we head into the 2006 season.
Michael John Schon has covered the National Football League and the Denver Broncos for the past ten years. As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association he has published and syndicated columns to both newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and Canada. His syndicated radio broadcast: "Schon Live" airs weekly on various radio stations around the country.
Schon can be reached at Schon@prostarmediagroup.net
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