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Broncos’ Sean Payton explains why Russell Wilson, starters will play in preseason opener


The Denver Broncos won’t be playing bubble wrap this preseason, at least for the opener. Broncos head coach Sean Payton revealed Saturday that Russell Wilson and the starters will be playing in the preseason opener against the Arizona Cardinals next week, a change of pace compared to most teams. 

Starters usually don’t play much — if at all — in the team’s preseason opener. Payton, who started as a head coach in 2006, is taking the old-school approach. 

“I haven’t shelled it out yet, but they’re gonna play,” Payton said. “We’ll figure out how many snaps. We typically break down a game into three phases. We’ll have a plan, especially when we get into next week. 

“I don’t have a pitch count. I don’t have an exclusion list. We can expect to see our guys play a little bit. When asked to confirm if Wilson will play, Payton joked, “He is a player.”

Payton has done the three-game preseason schedule before (even though he couldn’t remember it from 2021), but said losing the fourth preseason game was fine. Playing in the preseason is significant for Wilson, who didn’t take a single snap in the preseason last year. He ended up having the worst season of his career. 

Wilson has 11 consecutive seasons of 3,000-plus passing yards. He’ll need 3,000 passing yards to join Peyton Manning as the only players ever to reach the mark in each of their first 12 seasons. He did hit that mark last year, but also completed a career-low 60.5% of his passes with a career-low 16 touchdowns — all while being sacked 55 times (the most in the NFL).

The preseason could do Wilson some good in a new offense, which might be Payton’s line of thinking. 



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