Coach Joseph: Preseason finale a huge game for players looking to make team

Head Coach Vance Joseph talks about the importance of this Thursday's game against the Cardinals for the younger players

On using his own personal experience as a player on the roster bubble to help young guys trying to make the team

As a player, I was always a guy on the bubble. I wasnt a front-line guy, so I get it. This week is special because the entire roster is intact. So, as a young player, you get one more chance to prove you can play in this league. Back in my day, it was two cuts. At this point, it was really guys who were going to make the practice squad or guys who can really play. But now, everyone has a chance who came into camp with us to play one more game and to play some meaningful snaps so they can prove they can play in this game. Obviously, nerves, you want to play your best game youve played in a long time. For some of these guys, its the most important football game theyve played in their whole lives. If you dont make it your first year in this league, its hard to make it your second year. Its a huge game for our young guys.

On how S Sua Cravens responded to practicing yesterday and if he will play on Thursday

Really well. He felt fine this morning, so the hope is he can play on Thursday night.

On if he likes having one roster cut

I do. I think for the health of your overall team, you can go into this fourth game and you have your valuable backups. You dont want to expose those guys to too many reps, so it allows you to preserve your valuable backups, in my opinion. Again, what I said earlier, it allows young guys to have one more chance to make a play and someone may notice them. I like it. Its good for the players and its good for the team, also.

On if playing or not playing RB Royce Freeman on Thursday is a tough decision

Weve got 12 guys like that. I can name five on offense. Weve got Royce, weve got [WR Courtland] Sutton, weve got [WR DaeSean] Hamilton, weve got [RB Devontae] Booker, weve got [G] Max Garcia, whos not in the starting lineup, but plays as a starter for us. Defensively, youve got [NT] Shelby Harris, youve got [DE] Zach Kerr, your third corner or your dime backer. Every team is dealing with this. Its a tossup how much those guys play. You want them to play some, but you dont want to expose them to too many reps to get them nicked. Our real game is next Sunday.

On if any running backs will not play on Thursday

Im not sure. Im going to meet with [President of Football Ops\GM] John [Elway], meet with our staff and see where we are. Again, its Tuesday and we play Thursday, so those answers are not due until Thursday night.

On the competition at running back

Royce and Book (Booker) have been the lead guys the whole preseason, so to say its open, its between those two guys. [The top two spots are] pretty much closed in my opinion. Again, its not a focus of mine right now because its going to take three guys, its going to take four guys. Whoevers the lead back in the season, to me, is not my focus right now. If we call a power play against Seattle on first-and-10, its probably going to be Royce. If we go empty and throw a quick pass, it may be Book. So, who is the lead guy? It doesnt really matter, but obviously those two guys have been the lead backs for the entire spring really and entire summer. It will come down between those two guys.

On if G Ronald Leary is on track to start in Week 1

Yes, he is. He practiced yesterday and he felt great. He practiced today and he felt great. Absolutely, he is.

On how DE Clinton McDonald has look since returning from injury

Hes looked great. Hes looked really good. He provides an inside pass rush that we havent had here in a long time. Again, experienced backup players are valuable in this league and its hard to keep them because of salaries. When you find an experienced guy you can afford, its always a good deal to keep those guys.

On if people are overlooking RB DeAngelo Henderson Sr. because of RB Phillip Lindsay

I dont think so, I think what No. 2 (Lindsay) has done has been real. Its not a fluff story. Again, hes done it on offense and on special teams. What hes done hasnt been just because hes a local kid, he has earned his right to be here. DeAngelo has done some good things also, but Im speaking of those guys separately. What 2 has done has been real, and what DeAngelo has done obviously has been real also. Its been major competition with our halfbacks and its been fun for me to watch.