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 the game’s first 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, providing a glimpse into the difficult task faced daily in training camp by Broncos quarterbacks Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch.
Mark Sanchez, Chicago’s second-string quarterback, fared no better, completing 1-of-4 passes for 4 yards. The Broncos didn’t surrender a score until rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky marched the Bears 50 yards for a touchdown in the final two minutes of the second quarter.
“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.”
While Harris provided the game’s biggest highlight in its opening minute, Thursday was never about analyzing a proven all-pro. New editions made for more intriguing evaluations, and several players making their Broncos 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 after a snap sailed over Glennon’s head.
The Broncos did suffer a blow to the defense when nose tackle Billy Winn was carted off the field with an apparent knee injury. Denver is thin at the spot. Behind veteran Domonta Peko, only college free agent Tyrique Jarrett is healthy in the wake of Winn’s injury.
Winn, who was on crutches as he exited the locker room, will have an MRI on Friday.