HOW DO COURTLAND SUTTON AND VON MILLER LOOK IN THEIR FIRST ACTION?
For the first time since Week 2 of the 2020 season, Courtland Sutton is expected to return to game action. Von Miller, meanwhile, should appear in a game for the first time since the end of the 2019 season.
In all likelihood, neither of the two players will see too many reps. As they return to the field, it would make sense to give them a few series to re-familiarize themselves with the speed of the game and to get comfortable ahead of Week 1. Still, it’s possible they could make an impact in their short cameos.
In an ideal world, Bridgewater would look for Sutton early in the game to both build their in-game chemistry and to help Sutton get back in rhythm. A quick catch for Sutton would likely get the Empower Field crowd going and be good for the fourth-year wide receiver’s confidence going into Week 1.
“I think the game reps are important for him,” Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur said Thursday. “We’ve talked about this throughout the camp, but we need to see him get out there. I think it’ll be good for him. This is kind of the next phase of his recovery, and he’s done a great job in practice and just go out and play good football: Run good, crisp routes; if he’s asked to block, do his business; and then catch the ball.”
If a Sutton reception would stir up the crowd, it’s hard to imagine the reaction if Miller could get a sack in his first game back. Miller said he would treat this week’s game like a tune-up for Week 1, and he’s approached the matchup with regular-season intensity.
“I’ve attacked this week like a regular week for me,” Miller said Wednesday. “This is a true dress rehearsal for me. Yesterday was [the] first day of practice [going] hard like I would in [the] regular season. [I] attacked the day like I would in the regular season today. I’m going to get ready and I’m going to go through pregame warmup and I’m going to go through my whole routine from the night before, two nights out. … This is a true dress rehearsal for me and I’m going to go out there and play. I’m not really worried about the numbers. I just want to go out there and touch the field [for the first time]in a long time. I haven’t played in a game since the Raiders in 2019, so it’s super exciting to be back in there and go through the motions, and just drive to the stadium and go through the whole thing. So, it’s a true dress rehearsal for me, and I’m attacking it like it’s game week for me.”
WHICH PLAYERS CAN EARN A ROSTER SPOT?
The third preseason game means it’s also the final chance for players on the fringe of the roster to state their case for a spot. On Thursday, Fangio said there’s still plenty of jobs up for grabs.
“I haven’t really sat down and looked at it to give you an exact number, but there’s always the usual numbers — anywhere from five to eight,” Fangio said.
On a deeper roster than the team has seen in several years, there are battles going on at a variety of positions. At wide receiver, Trinity Benson, Kendall Hinton, Tyrie Cleveland and Seth Williams could be jockeying for a single spot. At cornerback, Kary Vincent Jr. and Nate Hairston could be among the players looking to lock up a roster spot. Cam Fleming, Quinn Bailey and Austin Schlottmann will all aim to show they are worthy of a spot along the offensive line. At safety, Caden Sterns and P.J. Locke will look to cement roster spots, while Jamar Johnson will aim to make a late surge.
At this stage of the preseason, a strong game — or a single big play — could be enough to shift one’s fortunes. Even once the starters have long exited the field, keep your eyes glued to the action. A single touchdown catch, interception or punt return could change the complexion of the back of the roster.
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