Out with the cringe and in with the fringe.

The final slate of preseason games Thursday night will feature fewer key players at risk and more aspiring bubble busters getting one last chance to make their team with the 75-man roster cut down eliminated.

Some 1,200 players will flood the market this weekend as teams go straight from 90-man rosters to 53.

“That helps everyone involved in my opinion,” Broncos Coach Vance Joseph said. “For the young guys to have a chance to play one more game to prove their worth to us and the entire league, it’s valuable for those guys. For our staff to not have to play our valuable backups for an entire game, that’s also huge.”

For instance, Broncos backup linebacker Corey Nelson “would have to play the entire fourth game” in the old setup, Joseph said. “Now, he can play a quarter, maybe a quarter and a half and now he can sit, watch and get ready for the Chargers” whom the Broncos host Sept. 11 in their opener.

Ex-general manager Bill Polian was on the forefront of change in the early 2000s when he was with the Colts and started playing Peyton Manning for just a series or so in the final preseason game. Soon, teams were doing the same to their stars, if they played them at all in the final exhibition game, which they used more for evaluation than preparation.

With 15 more players available to them Thursday night, teams can avoid risking injuries to their starters – Joseph said he plans to sit 25 players or more – and allow key backups to head into the regular season fresher.

With the 75-man roster cut down, teams used to soften the blow for many veterans by saying they’d released them early so they had a better chance of catching on with another team.

That hardly ever panned out.

“That rule was promulgated when we played the final preseason game on a Saturday or Sunday prior to opening week,” Polian said. “Now, if you claimed a guy on waivers Sunday, by the time you get him to your facility and gave him a physical and got him acclimated, you’re now on the eve of the fourth preseason game. He’s not capable of playing. He doesn’t know enough, unless he’s a kicker or a punter.”

“So, it was non-functional.”

Coaches are glad to have 90 players instead of 75 this week.

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