It certainly wasn’t the Super Bowl, but the Denver Broncos got a chance to get back at the Seahawks just a little bit for the first time since the debacle that was the NFL’s biggest stage, and young players stood out in their victory.
Particularly, two young undrafted free agent rookies out of Duke made their mark for the Broncos, and have been throughout the course of training camp.
Running back Juwan Thompson finished the game with six carries for 59 yards, and defensive end Kenny Anunike applied constant pressure on Terrelle Pryor and essentially lived in the backfield for the Broncos.
First, Juwan Thompson looked like a stud. He finished the game with 59 yards on six carries but also had some explosive runs called back on bogus penalties. The Broncos are on the hunt for a fourth running back behind Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman, and CJ Anderson and right now, Thompson appears to have a hold on it.
When I evaluated Thompson coming out, what stands out is his explosiveness and special teams versatility. He also played linebacker while at Duke, running behind defensive end Kenny Anunike, who has been having a whale of a camp with the Broncos.
Anunike struggled with injuries throughout his Duke career, even being granted a sixth year of eligibility in his time there. However, since coming to the Broncos, he’s been nothing short of spectacular, applying constant pressure and winning one-on-one situations in practice and doing much of the same in Thursday night’s game.
If you want to talk about a guy who makes an impact on a game but doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, Anunike is the perfect example, not even recording a single tackle in the Broncos’ win. However, he potentially made the game-winning play, or at least caused it to happen.
On what turned out to be the play of the game, Anunike forced Terrelle Pryor out of the pocket where he was met at the line of scrimmage by John Boyett, who was going to light him up. Boyett’s additional pressure after Anunike’s flushing of Pryor out of the pocket forced Pryor to throw the ball into tight coverage, where the ball was tipped by another UDFA in Jordan Sullen and picked off by Broncos linebacker Steven Johnson.
Johnson’s interception and a first down by the Broncos’ offense essentially ended the game.
I’m extremely impressed with what I’ve seen from these Duke Blue Devils players after two live practices in Denver and now a pre-season game. Their skills have translated really well to the NFL game and they are primed to make an impacti n Denver.