The Bears’ first organized practice against another opponent where they charge fans full season prices for half rate games is Thursday night vs Peyton Manning and the Broncos. The last time we saw the Broncos, we were getting Tebowed as Marion Barber bumbled and fumbled away our playoff hopes. This is a whole new team as the Broncos tossed Tebow aside for one of the best to ever play quarterback, Peyton Manning.
To help us get ready for this colossal showdown, we’ve enlisted the help of our old friend Kim Constantinesco, editor of our FanSided sister site Predominantly Orange to answer our 5 Questions. Hit the jump to see my questions and Kim’s answers.
1. The biggest story of the offseason for the Broncos has clearly been Peyton Manning. How has he changed the Broncos? Are there health concerns still lingering or has he addressed those in camp? Will we get to see him much on Thursday night?
Kim: You notice the change in the Broncos simply from a practice perspective. Players and coaches are running from drill to drill as Manning’s voice booms across the practice field. Practices haven’t been this intense in a long time.
Manning’s teammates know it’s all business. The team hasn’t had a future Hall of Famer since John Elway. With Manning, there aren’t many reasons why this team shouldn’t succeed at least in the AFC West.
Regarding Manning’s health, everyone is making a big deal out of his arm strength. The funny thing is in 2009-2010, when Manning attempted a throw from beyond 21 yards, he had a 30% completion percentage. He had 4,500 passing yards that season. That goes to show that even if Manning never regains his arm strength, he can still be effective. His strength looks good when he passes to the left or up the middle, but there is a slight weakness there when he throws to the right.
Expect Manning to get 10-12 reps on Thursday night.
2. The big story for the Bears has been the reunion of the old Broncos gang of Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and Jeremy Bates. Are there still hard feelings in Denver towards Jay in particular or are you all past the jersey burning and hate signs?
Kim: Jay Cutler is an after-thought in Denver at this point. The funny thing is there’s so much action in the NFL that one league year feels more like five years, so it feels like Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall were here a decade ago.
Will Denver fans cheer for him in the stands? Absolutely not. He wasn’t media/fan friendly so it’s easy to root against a guy like that now that he’s on another team.
3. How is the race to back up Peyton Manning shaping up? Take it from Bears fans, the importance of that position can’t be overlooked. When Caleb Hanie took over for Jay Cuter late last season, all he had to do was be serviceable to keep the Bears in the playoff hunt.
Kim: John Elway always likes to say that there’s a Plan A, and the team doesn’t have a Plan B, or Plan C. The reality is injuries happen all the time and can really break a team down.
Hanie is sitting comfortably in the No. 2 role. Rookie Brock Osweiler (3rd on depth chart) and second year player Adam Weber (fourth on depth chart) have never taken a snap in the NFL. It’s an easy call to make. However, depending on how preseason shakes out, we could see a change in the rankings.
4. Who are some Broncos rookies or newcomers that will turn some heads at Soldier Field on Thursday night?
Kim: Keep an eye on our two new tight ends, Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen. Any tight end that plays with Manning is capable of a big year. Also keep an eye on rookie running back Ronnie Hillman. He’s a Darren Sproles/Dexter McCluster type guy who will fit in nicely behind Knowshon Moreno. On defense, rookie defensive tackle Derek Wolfe was the Broncos first draft pick in 2012, and he’s a beast.
5. As silly as it is in preseason, what’s your prediction for the game on Thursday night?
Kim: I’ll predict a win in the first half, and a loss in the second half. Preseason is all give and take. Overall, Broncos on top 24-21.
Thanks as always to our friend Kim. Be sure to check out my answers to her questions over at Predominantly Orange.