In the tenth of Thin Air’s series on previewing 2017’s training camp for the Broncos is a look at edge rushers.
Edge rusher is a position that has been strong ever since John Elway took over. 2017 should be no exception, but the Broncos do face new hurdles at this position, including the loss of future Hall of Famer DeMarcus Ware to retirement.
Ray underwent the practical transition from backup to starter in 2016, logging more snaps than Ware did. It’s now time for Ray to take that responsibility full time, and provide his own pressure presence to ensure that opponents can’t place extra attention on Miller. The reason below may also demand that Ray take a lion’s share of the snaps…
At the end of May, Barrett suffered a non-football hip injury that’s reported to keep him out two to three months. This likely ensures that he will enter training camp on the Active/NFI list. If the absence stretches to three months, that would place his return right at the start of the regular season. Reserve/NFI may be unlikely, as that would require a minimum of six weeks missed. However, Barrett may not be up to full strength by Week 1 even if he can hit the field. This is potentially a big deal, as having a third edge rusher of high caliber helps to keep the starters fresh. If Barrett can’t immediately take on a prominent role, that adds more pressure to the players both above and below him on the depth chart to contribute.
Kasim Edebali and Vontarrious Dora
Barrett’s likely training camp absence, at least in part, provides great opportunity for both of these players to make a move up. Edebali was an external acquisition this offseason, going unclaimed by New Orleans as a restricted free agent, while Dora was a internal practice squad participant in 2016. There will almost certainly be room for one of them on the active roster, and likely both of them. But proving that they can be more than just roster filler will go a long way to ensuring that one of the most important positions on a football team is stocked well.
Ken Ekanem and Deon Hollins
There was no lack of attention to this position in the undrafted free agent market, either, once again heightening its importance. This plus some uncertainty regarding Barrett’s recovery likely leaves a practice squad spot open for this position, especially if incumbent Dora makes the active roster.