Broncos’ backups have an ‘unbelievable opportunity’ as they face Bills’ starters

Good morning, Broncos Country!

Bills’ head coach Sean McDermott indicated Thursday that most of his starters will play Saturday when they host the Broncos – and they will play “a healthy amount.”

But Broncos’ new head coach Nathaniel Hackett isn’t taking the bait.

After practice Thursday Hackett was asked whether he’d consider playing starters against the Bills since they were planning to put Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Von Miller and the rest in the game for possibly a few quarters.

“No, it’s about our team. Our team and our team only,” he said. “The only time it will ever affect the kind of things that we do is during the season.”

Hackett has been very clear that he’s no fan of preseason games and would rather test his 22 starters in solid work during the practice week.

“You know me—I don’t like the preseason,” he said Tuesday. “That’s just my philosophy… In the end, we want to be smart with the guys. It’s a 17-game season.”

Hackett also revealed Thursday that Josh Johnson would be the starting quarterback on Saturday, putting to rest any crazy notion that fans might get a glimpse of Russell Wilson in the preseason.

“Both guys have done really well,” Hackett said, noting Johnson’s good game against Dallas last week. “It wasn’t too big for him. I think he’s come out of here and he’s done a good job. [He] had a couple things that he needs to improve on but it’s everybody. Everybody has to improve. I do, those guys do and you just want to keep watching those guys battle and have a healthy competition because ‘Ryp’ (QB Brett Rypien) has done a good job. The idea is who can we get the most consistent? We want to be sure that we’re not turning the ball over, we’re making smart decisions and moving the chains.”

When reporters tried to inquire about other possible starters seeing some game time – by asking if “any players who didn’t play against the Cowboys might play against the Bills,” Hackett was equally coy.

“You guys know my philosophy [is that] it’s risk-reward,” he said. “I know everybody likes that stuff, but in the end, I want to do what’s right for the team.”

Given that the first team offense and defense traded some good series during Thursday’s work, the coach is likely using the next two weekends just for the guys trying to prove themselves.

And what better way to do that than playing against starters?

“That’s the best evaluation you can possibly get. We want to see who can come out there and play against the best in the league,” Hackett noted. “It’s an unbelievable opportunity for those guys to step up and show what they can do.”

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