Charles flashes in Denver debut, Broncos beat Packers 20-17
DENVER — Jamaal Charles’ impressive Denver debut included four rushes for 27 yards Saturday night in the Broncos’ 20-17 preseason win over the Green Bay Packers.
Charles is embarking on a comeback with the Broncos after the Chiefs released him over the winter following two injury-plagued seasons and several knee surgeries that had limited him to eight games since 2014.
In addition to averaging almost seven yards a carry, Charles caught a couple of passes and got good news when he was cleared to return to the field after being evaluated for a concussion midway through his audition.
Even better news would be waking up Sunday without a swollen knee or two.
The Broncos have a crowded backfield as it is, but a healthy Charles could be a valuable wild card for Mike McCoy’s new offense.
Von Miller also made his preseason debut and sacked Aaron Rodgers for an 11-yard loss, forcing the Packers to settle for Mason Crosby’s 52-yard field goal and ending Rodgers’ night after 10 snaps. (He was 3 for 5 for 12 yards). Miller spun past Jason Spriggs, who was subbing for injured right tackle Bryan Bulaga, and split a double team on his way to dumping Rodgers.
Rodgers was harassed into the worst game of his career the last time he came to Denver in 2015.
After Green Bay safety Kentrell Brice returned an interception 42 yards to the Denver 2 minutes after Rodgers was sacked, backup Brett Hundley trotted out to hand off to Ty Montgomery for the touchdown plunge and a 10-0 lead.
Miller’s day was over after that play.
The Broncos were careful not to expose Miller after a rash of injuries on defense claimed fellow pass rushers Shaq Barrett, Shane Ray and Derek Wolfe this offseason.
Trevor Siemian, in his first game since coach Vance Joseph declared him the starting quarterback over Paxton Lynch, bounced back from his interception to lead Denver on three impressive drives, Lynch came in and got hurt on his only series.
The first series was a 10-play, 75-yard drive capped by C.J. Anderson’s untouched 16-yard trot but marred by the loss of top receiver Demaryius Thomas to a groin injury.
Siemian then drove the Broncos to the Green Bay 12, but Anderson was held to no gain on third-and-1 and fourth-and-1. Siemian, however, went 6 of 7 for 48 yards in the two-minute drill, and Brandon McManus kicked a 28-yard field goal to tie it at 10 as the first half expired.
Siemian finished 13 of 22 for 127 yards and had one interception.
The Packers managed just 102 first-half yards against a Denver defense missing six starters.
Lynch guided Denver on the go-ahead scoring drive — McManus was good from 46 yards — to start the second half. The second-year QB hurt his right (throwing) shoulder on the drive, apparently when he slid on it after a scramble.
He was replaced by Kyle Sloter, whose 17-yard TD pass to Hunter Sharp made it 20-10.
Hundley’s 6-yard keeper made it 20-17 early in the fourth quarter.
TAKE A KNEE: Broncos right tackle Menelik Watson gave new meaning to the term “take a knee” when he proposed to his fiance after the starters were taken out of the game. Azania Stewart, a member of the British national basketball team, said yes.
STANDING UP: Broncos LB Brandon Marshall said he was considering taking a knee in a revival of his national anthem protests of last year, but he stood during the “Star Spangled Banner.” Marshall didn’t line up with his teammates, however, positioning himself several steps behind the row of Broncos players.
SCUFFLING: Two of Denver’s defenders mixed it up when fiery cornerback Aqib Talib tried to stop linebacker Todd Davis from jawing with some Packers. Talib shoved Davis in the chest and Davis took exception, removed his helmet and shoved it into Talib’s face. The scuffling continued to the sideline.
SITTING OUT: In addition to Thomas, DE Zach Kerr (knee) and S Will Parks (hip) got hurt in the first half for Denver, and Packers OLB Nick Perry was shaken up before halftime.