Preseason Roundup: Who's protecting Peyton Manning?

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

Who's going to protect Peyton Manning?
Who's going to protect Peyton Manning? (USATSI)

Regardless of who the Denver Broncos put around Peyton Manning, at least in terms of non-skill position talent, their franchise quarterback will end up OK. He's got Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker. No one feels sorry for him. But let's not sleep on the issues at running back for the Broncos.

Running back is a forgotten position in a Manning offense because of his passing proficiency. But it's quite important in different ways: Manning needs a running back who won't cough the ball up, a running back who can be elusive off draws and screens and a running back who will freaking pass block.

The last trait is the most important but we didn't see much of any from the running backs on Saturday night. Ronnie Hillman coughed up a goal line fumble and Montee Ball whiffed a block to let Peyton get hit. Those sorts of mistakes are going to happen and, again, it's always the preseason. (The whole "preseason roundup" alerted you to that right?)

This is a precious position to grab. Don't think no one's watching, Ronnie.

Hey Larry
How happy is Larry Fitzgerald? I don't buy the idea that Carson Palmer is the savior in Arizona, at least to the extent that many do. But I definitely think Palmer's an improvement over 2012 and you can see it in the way that Fitz moves after the catch. Dude looks happier and more confident.

Broadway Charade
It's cool that Mark Sanchez wanted to play a ton of snaps in Saturday's game to learn the offense. I'm sure that's his intention. (Seriously.) But I'm also sure that Rex Ryan was totally fine with letting Sanchez do that because it meant that Rex could point to a win for Sanchez -- even it was against the Jaguars -- and note that he won the game. It's irrelevant because, well, 13-for-23 in a preseason game against one of the worst teams in the NFL shouldn't cut it.

Doesn't matter because we're inevitably going to see Sanchez "win" the job and start the regular season. There's no way this can go wrong.

SuperSeason?
It's not typical that you see a preseason game actually feel like a regular-season game in terms of hype, intensity and starters sticking around. But the Broncos-Seahawks game felt like a real-life game. There was a legit vibe of real football around the game and if you don't believe me, look at how long Peyton Manning hung around.

A few things stand out from this game. One, Peyton Manning played well into the second quarter. He apparently did so because he loved the idea of dealing with Seattle's intense crowd nightmare. This is what makes Peyton Peyton Manning. Two, Russell Wilson played through the half. That's a long time for a starter. Three, the Seahawks put up 34 points in the first half.

Your thoughts on this Pete Carroll?

Yeah I thought so. Anyway ...

Four, once it's up on NFL.com (I've been looking for it), watch the throw from Russell Wilson to Jermaine Kearse in the first quarter. Maybe you've seen it on highlights shows, but it's worth watching again if only to prove why wondering about Wilson's viability is ridiculous. He fumbles the snap, proceeds to recognize what's going on in the play and whips a throw off his back foot to a wide-open Kearse in the perfect spot. It's not a ground-breaking throw or anything, but it's the type of throw that should remind you he's perfectly capable of succeeding in any circumstances.

Five, hello, Wes Welker. For those that think he can't put up stats, I look at his three catches for 31 yards and a touchdown in Saturday's game and think immediately that Welker will have great numbers playing with Peyton in Denver. I thought that before and I'll continue to think that. Not "Wes Welker New England" numbers or anything, but very good numbers.

The GioWagon
I'm driving this wagon and I won't let anyone tell me otherwise: Giovani Bernard has been my Rookie of the Year pick for months. You can't steal this from me and yeah, I'm looking back at you on the bandwagon. Dude is a stud.

Go here, scroll down and find Gio's highlights. He's not some "change-of-pace back." Guy is a feature back. Period.

Swearinger Hit Legal?
Pretty sure that this hit by Texans safety D.J. Swearinger -- a notorious head-knocker -- managed to pull off a legal hit on Dustin Keller Saturday night. Keller was carted off because Swearinger blew up his knee and, ironically (?) after changing the way he hits people.

Swearinger isn't wrong, per se, but that doesn't mean Keller wouldn't like a lot of the muscles in his knee back, especially when we're talking about a preseason game.

The Mighty Eskimo
The No. 1 good reason not to worry about the Packers offensive line? Aaron Rodgers. Easy answer. Dude is a stud and he can combat -- and has combated -- offensive line issues for a few years now. But the No. 1 good reason to worry about the Packers offensive line? What Robert Quinn does to David Bakhtiari right ... here:

That's not even "getting skinny" or anything like that. Quinn just demolished Bakhtiari. Straight up. Again, Rodgers was 10-for-12 on Saturday night so it's not something he can't counter. But goodness gracious Mr. Quinn.

FAT GUY INT

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