Here we are, Bronco fans. Five days of training camp already finished and we are a little more than a week away from the preseason opener against Seattle.
As somebody stuck in Kansas, I’m unable to actually go to training camp in person and will have to find other ways to watch Broncos games on certain weeks. But based on what I’ve read coming out of training camp thus far, there are a few observations I can make on what one might expect from the preseason opener.
1. I’m all in favor of the Broncos coaching staff giving the players a day off from training camp from time to time. This allows players a chance a little recovery time and to recover from any minor injuries.
2. Early indicators are that undrafted WR Jordan Taylor has been a standout. I continue to believe that at least one of the younger receivers will demand a roster spot, not just because the Broncos need somebody who can return punts. While it’s true you want to have plenty of veterans around to provide leadership, there’s no sense hanging onto a veteran if a young player stands out so much, there’s no way you can slip him onto the practice squad. For more about Taylor, you can read Troy Renck’s writeup.
3. Speaking of the wide receivers, another one who seems to be turning heads is Cody Latimer. While we all wish that Demaryius Thomas would have come to terms on his extension sooner than he did, it may have been a blessing in disguise, because it allowed Latimer a chance to get more reps with Peyton Manning during the offseason. Nicki Jhabvala talks more about this. I know many of you were disappointed that Latimer didn’t take the field much last season, but training camp reports indicate that Latimer may see a bigger role this season.
4. And then there’s another receiver turning heads: Solomon Patton, who looks like an early favorite to return punts. Jhabvala notes that not only has Patton excelled in the return game, but he’s also standing out as a receiver. I have mentioned before that I did not see Andre Caldwell’s roster spot as secure after reading the reports about some of the younger receivers impressing. We’ll find out if that holds up, of course.
5. The news that Britton Colquitt agreed to a pay cut has some concerned about what this means for the kicker’s job. To which I will say: Don’t look at what happened last season, but what happens this preseason, to determine who really deserves that job. Andrew Mason discusses this, as while Connor Barth didn’t impress on kickoffs last season, it’s not just about leg strength but technique that allows a kicker to extend his kickoffs. Jeff Legwold goes a little more in depth about this as well. If it’s true Barth has worked to get better at kickoffs, we’ll see it in the preseason and know if he’s the man for the job.
6. There’s also the interest about the offensive line and who will step up as the starters. The one who has fared well thus far is fourth-round pick Max Garcia, who is making his case to crack the lineup, as Mason notes from Day 4 of training camp. We’ve all been concerned about the O-line, given the struggles last year and the departure of Orlando Franklin, but it’s a good sign that players like Garcia are working to live up the task. Mason notes that Matt Paradis is also doing well for himself.
7. We’ll use this number from time to time for the Thank You John Elway department. Today, it’s thanks for ensuring the Broncos did not carry a lot of dead money on the salary cap. It may be true the Broncos have committed a lot of dollars to salaries, but as Legwold notes, only the Bengals carry less dead money against the cap than the Broncos do. Remember, the less dead money you carry, the greater the flexibility you have to manage contracts.
8. Back to the players, one defensive player who has stood out is 2013 first-round pick Sylvester Williams. Mike Klis talks about how Williams caught the attention of coaches early in camp. Williams hasn’t made the impact some expected him to in his first two seasons, but perhaps he’ll be a better fit for the defense Wade Phillips wants to run. I’m interested to see if he can break out in his third season.
9. Finally, there’s Joe Dan Duncan, who we’ve talked about when IAOFM was running, and some talk has carried over here. Andrew Mason has a good writeup about Duncan and his recovery from a broken foot. Duncan is getting work at tight end and fullback and learning plenty from veteran James Casey. I know Gary Kubiak wanted to have Casey around for a veteran presence, and given what Casey has done for Duncan, that has become all the more clearer. But it does make me wonder what decisions might have to be made when it’s time to make final roster cuts.
That’s all I have for you this week. The Broncos have another four days of training camp this week, and before you know it, the preseason opener will be here. Go Broncos!