DENVER — The Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight against Conor McGregor was earning the lion’s share of attention — and cheers — in the locker rooms Saturday night at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium, minutes after the Denver Broncos beat the Green Bay Packers 20-17 in preseason play.
That allowed players like Garett Bolles, Jamaal Williams and Devante Mays to quietly go about their business, answering a handful of reporters’ questions as they packed up for the night.
Soon enough, these three rookies could be earning their share of cheers. How they respond to the learning curve at the NFL level and apply it in their development is key.
The trio represents three of the 11 Utah ties who were selected in this year’s NFL Draft. Of those 11, Bolles is the only one slated to be a Day 1 starter in the pros. Broncos head coach Vance Joseph has already declared Bolles the team’s regular-season starter at left tackle. He was taken 20th overall by Denver in April’s draft.
There’s still been room for improvement in his game, the former University of Utah lineman readily admits. In the Broncos’ second preseason game, against San Francisco, Bolles was whistled for four penalties. In the next game, though, he didn’t pick up a single penalty.
“I’m a rookie, so there will always be rookie mistakes. But every single day, I feel like I’m progressing, getting better and better,” Bolles said Saturday following the game. “As everything goes on, I’m going to find my rhythm, and when we open up September 11 (against San Diego), I’m going to find my role.”
Bolles played a team-high 48 offensive snaps in the win over Green Bay, seeing time on the field through Denver’s second series in the third quarter. He helped spring a pair of 10-plus yard runs for running backs Jamaal Charles and C.J. Anderson and played a major role in the Broncos rushing for 125 yards.
Bolles cited a level of familiarity that’s helped him acclimate so quickly in Denver.
“That’s how it was at Utah, and that’s how it is here. I fit in really well with that atmosphere, and I fit in well here. I knew the day I came here that this was the right place for me. The morals and values we have here are very similar to what I am used to,” he said.
Williams, meanwhile, has worked himself into the main backup running back position in…