The NFL preseason slate begins Wednesday with 16 games through Sunday — the first chance for rookies from Utah and BYU to show their potential in live action. 

None more so than the highest player from a Utah school drafted in April: Denver Broncos left tackle Garett Bolles. 

Bolles’ ascension in Broncos camp has been swift and the former Ute was named the starter at left tackle in the team’s first released depth chart of the season. He’s beat out three-year veteran Ty Sambrailo and six-year veteran Donald Stephenson to become the man charged with protecting either Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch, one of the most unsettled quarterback positions in the league. 

Denver coach Vance Joseph said Bolles will continue to compete with Sambrailo and Stephenson but that ”he’s played well enough to start Thursday night” against the Chicago Bears, according to The Denver Post

Talent sharpens talent and Bolles seems to have made a fast friendship with Super Bowl MVP pass rusher Von Miller while also benefitting from learning how to hold Miller at bay and out of the backfield in practice repetitions. 

Former Utes safety Marcus Williams and former BYU running back Jamaal Williams are also finding significant praise with the Saints and Packers, respectively. 

Marcus Williams is turning heads in a Saints secondary that struggled last season in both coverage and creating turnovers, nabbing a Drew Brees pass for an interception earlier in camp — a play the safety said was ”a dream come true,” according to The New Orleans Times-Picayune

FILE - In this June 15, 2017, file photo, New Orleans Saints safety Marcus Williams (43) runs through drills with cornerback Delvin Breaux (40) during NFL football practice in Metairie, La. The Saints second round pick, safety Marcus Williams, is starting to show the same ball-hawking skills that distinguished him in college at Utah. That's an encouraging sign for a defense that has struggled for three seasons and is looking for more turnovers. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
FILE - In this June 15, 2017, file photo, New Orleans Saints safety Marcus Williams (43) runs through drills with cornerback Delvin Breaux (40) during NFL football practice in Metairie, La. The Saints second round pick, safety Marcus Williams, is starting to show the same ball-hawking skills that distinguished him in college at Utah. That's an encouraging sign for a defense that has struggled for three seasons and is looking for more turnovers. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

The former Utes centerfielder is working with both the first- and second-team units, while former Cougar Jamaal Williams is pushing for a prominent place in the Packers’ backfield. 

According to ESPN, Williams is beginning to push incumbent Ty Montgomery for the lion’s share of touches and his reps with the offensive starters ”spiked” this week after he showed a penchant for blitz pickups. 

Other news and notes

Former Utes running back Joe Williams gained some praise from San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan.  

Former BYU linebacker Harvey Langi is reportedly getting snaps with the Patriots’ first-team defense despite going undrafted in April. He’s trying to stay humble. 

Former Utes defensive end Hunter Dimick is listed as Jacksonville’s fourth defensive end on the team’s depth chart after going undrafted in April. 

Former BYU quarterback Taysom Hill is ready for some live game action when the Packers take on the Eagles this week. 

Former Utes defensive end Pita Taumoepenu ”looks lean” in 49ers’ camp and has been working as an edge rusher and linebacker

Former BYU safety Kai Nacua (Browns) and former Utes guard Isaac Asiata (Dolphins) could be in line for an increased workload after players ahead of them on the depth chart suffered significant injuries. 

Former Utes kicker Andy Phillips was released by the Chicago Bears and former BYU fullback Algernon Brown found a new home with the New York Jets.