Denver Broncos: Five Things We Learned v Houston Texans

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Dec 22, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) congratulates wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) after Thomas scores a touchdown during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos looked haggard on offense Saturday night against the Houston Texans; but that was to be expected.

Peyton Manning was making his first appearance of the preseason in a new offense, with a young offensive line and a new head coach.

ALSO ON SPIN ZONE: Denver Broncos: An Offensive Line In Flux

Head coach Gary Kubiak has done commendable work in preserving Manning thus far in camp and brings to the table a run-heavy offense. In fact, in his 20 years as a coordinator and coach in the NFL Kubiak’s teams have averaged a rate of 10th in rushing overall.

Manning hasn’t had a top ten rushing offense since 2001 when his Indianpolis Colts roster featured a then 23 year old Edgerrin James. Thus, it should be expected that there will a transition period as both Manning and Kubiak’s offensive styles learn to co-exist.

In 7 minutes, 24 seconds of possession time on four possessions, the first string offense of the Broncos was held scoreless by the still formidable Texans defense who were without the services of 2014 Defensive Play Of The Year J.J. Watt.

There were a few drops, a forced throw and no continuity as the Broncos went three-and-out right off the bat on their first drive while attempting to go hurry-up. That put the defense in the spotlight once again — a role they’ve thrived in these first two weeks of the preseason.

The Broncos defense returned the favor in shutting out the first-string Ryan Mallettled Texans offense for the entire first half; and now boast 12 sacks in the first two preseason games to boot.

While the sample size was small, there were definitively five things we learned about this Broncos squad against the Texans.

Next: Brandon Marshall Ready For Encore Season