Broncos wide receiver Fred Brown celebrates with teammates guard Elijah Wilkinson and wide receiver Steven Dunbar, Jr., after a touchdown during the 2nd quarter of a preseason game at Broncos Stadium at Mile High in Denver on Thursday, August 29, 2019. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

Paul Klee's five quick thoughts from the Broncos' final preseason game Thursday:

1. Deep breath. At the conclusion of the longest exhibition season in team history, the Broncos escaped with their most important players uninjured. (Knock on wood.) Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, Chris Harris Jr., Emmanuel Sanders and Joe Flacco soaked in preseason game No. 5 from the sideline. Same for Phillip Lindsay and Justin Simmons (one man’s pick for the most important player on the defense). The Broncos’ struggling offense left most questions unanswered. They entered Thursday with only two passing touchdowns in four games. The Broncos defense is ready to wreck fools. Fangio, the de factor coordinator, is going to have fun with this bunch of rowdies.

2. Keep an eye on Malik Reed. The pass-rush specialist smacked Cardinals quarterback Brett Hundley to the turf for another sack in the first quarter. With the exits of Shaq Barrett and Shane Ray, the Broncos need some help behind stud pass-rushers Bradley Chubb and Von Miller. Undrafted, Reed has played his way onto the 53-man roster and should see plenty of snaps if the Broncos are able to build leads, the biggest question about this season. Expect Reed to make it 15 of 16 years a college free agent makes the final roster. Good on him. He earned it.

3. How about this timing? On the eve of the Rocky Mountain Showdown, CSU’s hope to extend its streak of placing a Ram on the Broncos roster got a lift. Ex-CSU linebacker Josh Watson made the kind of special teams play that puts you on the team. Watson poked the ball away from the punt returner and safety Trey Marshall recovered the fumble. CSU’s had an alum on Denver’s roster every season since 2011. Watson might be the man to keep the impressive streak alive.

4. Unrelated to the Broncos preseason finale: Demaryius Thomas enjoyed a delightful game for the Patriots on Thursday. His seven catches for 87 yards — and two touchdowns — showed the 31-year-old wide receiver still has some juice left. Will it tickle to draft DT in your fantasy league, even though he wears a Pats uniform? Worth a shot, for old time’s sake.

5. Kevin Hogan, meh. Brett Rypien, 23. Where the Broncos go with the backup quarterback spot will say plenty about how they feel about Drew Lock and his thumb injury. Hogan went 12-for-23 for 138 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions (one on a Hail Mary). Rypien plays confident — and young. Since no one seemed to like my Brock Osweiler idea, try this on for size: Kyle Sloter. If the Vikings plug Sloter on the practice squad, it's time the Broncos bring back Slotermania, Part II.  

(Contact Gazette sports columnist Paul Klee at or on Twitter at @bypaulklee.)

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