Broncos Rams Football

Denver Broncos quarterback Kevin Hogan (9) is tackled by Los Angeles Rams defensive back Steven Parker during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Paul Klee's five quick thoughts from the Broncos' 10-6 loss to the Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday: 

1. It’s official: the Colts made one of the biggest mistakes in NFL history choosing Andrew Luck over Peyton Manning. And they never could have seen it coming. It was 6:28 p.m. Pacific when the press box at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was stunned with the news Luck, the Colts quarterback, is retiring from football, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Broncos connections are numerous. The Colts cut Manning to roll with Luck, who, as it turns out, played only 16 games after Manning retired. The Colts also have ex-Bronco Chad Kelly in their quarterback room. “Swag” is now the backup behind Jacoby Brissett. And it was Broncos linebacker Danny Trevathan who once smashed Luck and caused a lacerated kidney, one of many injuries that ultimately forced Luck out of football. Sad deal. But can you blame a 29-year-old for leaving a violent game with $97 million in football money?

2. At the exact time it was reported that Luck will retire from football, his Stanford successor, Kevin Hogan, was taking a snap for the Broncos. (So there’s another connection.) Hogan actually passed Luck in wins at Stanford. Question is, has Hogan done enough to convince the Broncos he’s up for the job of serving as Joe Flacco’s backup? The answer here: no, sir. The Broncos should go find a veteran backup to bide time until Drew Lock returns from a thumb injury. The Broncos can’t risk their season on an injury to Flacco, who didn’t play Saturday and won’t play in the final preseason game Thursday. Don’t look now, but the best option, at least from where I sit, is unemployed and available. Bring back Brock Osweiler to back up Flacco.

3. Is Jake Butt going to factor for the Broncos after all? If Butt forges an NFL career after three ACL surgeries — count ’em, three — God bless the man. His finest moment as a professional arrived Saturday when he caught a 9-yard pass from Hogan and an 8-yard pass from Hogan, both in the first half. "It's great for him, great for the team," coach Vic Fangio said at halftime. Didn't start so well for Butt, who left the field and was examined by athletic trainers after the first snap of the game. He returned. When Butt's in the game, he makes a difference. He's the embodiment of this Broncos season: both are banking on a lot of ifs, ands and Butts.

4. Here’s a Pikes Peak angle worth watching: Morgan Fox, the former Fountain-Fort Carson star and grad, is on the verge of making a Super Bowl-caliber roster. Fox, who played his college ball at CSU-Pueblo, was a big part of the Rams’ defense on Saturday. He also played snaps on special teams, nearly finding an alley to block a field goal attempt by Brandon McManus. Fox is coming off an ACL injury sustained in 2018. He could be playing for a Lombardi trophy in 2019.

5. Broncos notes: The Broncos have found a player in rookie defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones, a third-round pick from Ohio State. Vic Fangio’s a fan. ... After a shaky preseason, punter Colby Wadman secured his roster spot with two big punts that averaged a net of 50.5 yards in the first half. ... Former Broncos star Aqib Talib chatted up old buddies Brandon McManus and Von Miller prior to kickoff. If the Rams win the Super Bowl, it could be the 33-year-old Talib’s swan song. ... The Broncos likely were making their final trip to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where they first played the Chargers in 1960. Stan Kroenke’s $4.9 billion Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park will host the Rams and Chargers and is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2020 NFL season.

(Contact Gazette sports columnist Paul Klee at paul.klee@gazette.com or on Twitter at @bypaulklee.)

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