Football is finally upon us. There is a real football game today and it just so happens that the Denver Broncos will be participating in it. They are playing the Atlanta Falcons in the annual Hall of Fame game held in Canton, Ohio following the induction of this year’s group. What should Denver fans expect to see tonight?

Who’s playing for Denver?

The biggest news for Denver fans is likely that Joe Flacco and some notable starters will not be playing. Most of the starters will likely sit the game; others will as well due to injury. DeaSean Hamilton has been nursing a calf injury and River Cracraft is also injured.

This will allow players such as Trinity Benson get a substantial amount of reps at receiver and possibly at returner as this is the first real action the special teams unit will get. They will also be thin at linebacker as Josey Jewell, and Todd Davis are not expected to play, opening the doors to some linebackers to make a statement.

At quarterback, Vic Fangio stated that Kevin Hogan will start the game. He will likely lead a couple of series before rookie Drew Lock comes in for the majority of the game. These preseason games will be crucial for Lock who needs to see as much live NFL action as possible. Denver fans will finally get to see their new passer for the first time. It looks like Brett Rypien will finish the game up as their 4th quarterback.

Looking for the rookies

There are three rookies fans should be excited for in this game. The first is obviously Lock. The Broncos were patient, waiting to select Lock, and getting terrific value with their 2nd round pick. The Broncos seem to be staying true so far and bringing Lock along slowly. He has already shown off his impressive arm in camp, but this will be his first sight of action in the NFL, and I’m sure both Lock and Denver fans can’t wait.

Another player that fans should be ecstatic to see the first action of is Iowa alum, Noah Fant. The Denver offense has lacked a dynamic focal piece for a while. Emmanuel Sanders is coming off an Achilles injury so Fant will likely be the offense’s best athlete on the field tonight against the Falcons. Fant is an elite athlete and if he can get into a rhythm with Hogan or Lock, watch out.

The third rookie that could surprise some fans is rookie linebacker, Josh Watson. It is not likely that Jewell and Davis will play tonight, instead look for Watson to come in and make some plays with the first and second-team defenses. Fangio hasn’t been shy about putting Watson in with the first team so far, and Watson has handled himself well. With a strong game, he could lock himself a spot on the final 53 man roster.

What to hope for?

This game is essentially a preseason to the preseason. Fans shouldn’t put a lot of thought into this game. Ultimately it’s a scrimmage against the Falcons. That said fans should be looking for some growth and to find out what kind of team Vic Fangio is trying to build in Denver. Training camp stars, like safety Justin Simmons and tackle Elijah Wilkinson, hope to continue their impressive starts to the 2019 season and continue to develop. Other players, such as DeMarcus Walker, are looking for breakout games to secure their spot on the final 53 man roster.

A win is always nice to see on the scoreboard, but if Lock and some other key players show growth and promise, the Broncos will finish this game looking ahead to a bright future.