The Denver Broncos are down to one player who started Super Bowl 50, the 2019 season opener and Monday’s 2020 opening act against the Tennessee Titans with Von Miller inactive.
It could have been wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, but he was traded to San Francisco after the 2019 opener and signed with New Orleans for the 2020 season. Cornerback Chris Harris Jr. and defensive lineman Derek Wolfe finished the 2019 campaign with the Broncos but signed elsewhere in the offseason. Wolfe headed to Baltimore, while Harris, the lone member of 2015’s “No Fly Zone” secondary still with the team in 2019, went to the Los Angeles Chargers.
That left the man who started the action Monday, kicker Brandon McManus, as the only holdover, per pro-football-reference.com.
The quarterback position has featured the most notable changes. Peyton Manning called it a career after beating the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl, and the Broncos went on to start Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler and Case Keenum over the next three seasons. Last season started with Joe Flacco and finished with Drew Lock, Monday’s starter who tossed the team’s first touchdown to tight end Noah Fant before McManus handled the ensuing extra point and kickoff.
With new running back Melvin Gordon III getting the first carry over Phillip Lindsay and wide receiver Courtland Sutton also out injured, Fant was the only skill position player on the offense to start in consecutive season openers. Garett Bolles and Dalton Risner held onto their respective spots on the left side of the offensive line, while three newcomers filled out the unit on the first drive against the Titans.
Defensively, Miller and Bradley Chubb figured to provide some consistency rushing the edges before Miller, the Super Bowl 50 Most Valuable Player, was injured in the week leading up to Monday’s game. That left Chubb, linebacker Josey Jewell, nose tackle Shelby Harris, strong safety Kareem Jackson and free safety Justin Simmons as the holdovers from last year’s Week 1 defensive starters.
With first-year Bronco Sam Martin expected to handle the punting duties and Diontae Spencer, who joined the team in 2019, handling punt and kick returns, only McManus can say he started the Broncos’ most recent Super Bowl and last two season openers.