Easy night for top de­fense Starters make a state­ment

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Nick Kos­mider

CHICAGO» Von Miller watched his team­mates on the Bron­cos’ start­ing de­fense trot onto Sol­dier Field on Thurs­day night for the pre­sea­son opener as he re­mained on the side­line.

The Bron­cos saw no rea­son to place un­due risk on their fran­chise player with the start of the reg­u­lar sea­son still one month away. The good news for Miller? He has only played 60 fewer sec­onds this pre­sea­son than the other stars on the Den­ver de­fense.

Af­ter Chris Harris in­ter­cepted Chicago start­ing quar­ter­back Mike Glen­non on the third play from scrim­mage and re­turned it 50 yards for a touch­down, most mem­bers of the de­fense’s top unit were done for the night.

“Man, we were just try­ing to get done,” Harris said. “We were do­ing what­ever we could to get out of the game, and I just hap­pened to make a play.”

It was a swift state­ment for a de­fense that has been among the NFL’s best each of the last two sea­sons and shows no signs of re­lin­quish­ing that man­tle. Mem­bers of the first and sec­ond units held Glen­non — signed by the Bears to a three-year, $45 mil­lion con­tract this off­sea­son — to 2-of-8 pass­ing for 20 yards and a 0.0 rating in three se­ries.

Mark Sanchez, Chicago’s sec­ond-string quar­ter­back, fared no bet­ter, com­plet­ing 1of-4 passes for 4 yards.

“That’s a great start,” Bron­cos coach Vance Joseph said. “We had two turnovers on the first three drives. I was im­pressed with those guys.”

But Thurs­day was never about an­a­lyz­ing a proven all-pro. New edi­tions made for more in­trigu­ing eval­u­a­tions, and sev­eral play­ers mak­ing their de­buts im­pressed.

Kasim Ede­bali, whom the Bron­cos signed as a free agent in the off­sea­son, has con­tin­ued to an­swer the bell at an out­side line­backer spot de­pleted by in­juries to Shane Ray and Shaquil Bar­rett. It was his pres­sure on Glen­non that forced the quar­ter­back to throw high into Harris’ wait­ing arms.

“He’s been re­ally sharp and he plays hard,” Joseph said of Ede­bali. “I’ve been im­pressed with him the past cou­ple weeks.”

Ja­mal Carter, an un­drafted rookie out of Mi­ami, forced Glen­non into a hur­ried throw early in the first quar­ter and then re­cov­ered a fum­ble.

The Bron­cos did suf­fer a blow to the de­fense when nose tackle Billy Winn was carted off the field with an ap­par­ent knee in­jury. He will have an MRI on Friday.

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