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Running back De'Angelo Henderson #33 of the Denver Broncos reacts after coming up short on a third down against the Arizona Cardinals during a preseason NFL game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 31, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
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Stokley: Time for young players to see the field for the Broncos

Running back De'Angelo Henderson #33 of the Denver Broncos reacts after coming up short on a third down against the Arizona Cardinals during a preseason NFL game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 31, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

For the Denver Broncos, it’s “time to face reality,” Brandon Stokley said on Thursday.

The “Stokley & Zach” host pronounced the Broncos season “over,” saying it’s time to start taking a look at younger players in anticipation of the 2018 season.

“I’ve got to see these guys in a game, and it’s time to do it right now,” Stokley said. “It’s time to start turning this roster over and getting a good look at 2018 and what these young players can possibly bring to the table for next year.

“It’s time to start playing these young players.”

Stokley did caution making too many moves, saying that wholesale changes could send a bad message to the locker room.

Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said on Thursday winning is “absolutely” more important than evaluating players for the future, that he and the staff watch the young players every day in practice.

“We want to win a game. We have five ball games left and it’s been a tough, tough year so far. We want to win a football game so we’re playing the guys that can help us win,” Joseph said.

But with the Broncos sitting at 3-8, the second-worst record in the AFC behind only the winless Cleveland Browns, and currently riding a seven-game skid, Stokley said he wants to see guys like De’Angelo Henderson and Connor McGovern see the field.

“This season’s over. Let’s face reality. And you know what? I don’t care if you’ve seen these guys in practice. A game is different. A game is so much different,” Stokley said. “You can’t tell me you can get a good look at De’Angelo Henderson and what he can do at the running back position in practice.

“You don’t even hit. You don’t even have pads on anymore in practice.”

Joseph said Henderson would likely have a “great future” with the Broncos, but that it’s hard for him to crack the game-day roster with three other running backs — C.J. Anderson, Devontae Booker, and Jamaal Charles — ahead of him.

“To have one more dressed or to take one of those guys out and put him in, it would be hard to do and have a fullback up,” Joseph said. “Barring an injury, he’ll probably sit and watch until we have a guy (miss time).”

McGovern, however, could get his shot at playing Sunday with guard Ron Leary possibly out with an injury.

“We have some guys that can step in,” Joseph said. “He’s one of them.”

Follow digital content producer Johnny Hart on Twitter: @johnnyhart7.