MHR Community Mailbag: Training Camp ya dig?

Peyton Manning at training camp - Casey Barrett / Mile High Report

This week the Emperor Calikula, Rodney Adams, CH74, and Fabio will be answering your questions, and they're all about training camp baby!

1) If the Broncos were to keep 3 TE's, 4 RB's, and 9 OL who are the oddmen out from the current group?

Calikula

TEs: As of RIGHT NOW if, IF, Thomas makes it through pre-season, looks impressive, and stays healthy, then Green is out. Dreesen, Tamme, Thomas. If Thomas gets hurt again, then Green is in. All the talent in the world doesnt mean squat if you never see the field.

RBs: Moreno, Hillman, M Ball, and Hester. Im not high on Hester, so if one of the younger guys like CJ Anderson or J Johnson beats him out, I wont be upset. As far as starting, it would be Moreno 1a, Hillman 1b, Ball C and Hester D. From all accounts the added weight is helping Hillman out and he is impressing in camp. Would love for him to break out this year. Moreno can't be counted on, so an even split with Hillman would be ideal.

OL: Obviously Clady, Beadles, ManRam, Vasquez, and Franklin. Backups are =Lilja, CJ Davis, Chris Clark, and Painter. I kept on Lilja for depth at C if Manny doesnt work out. Davis and Clark are both under 30 and are familiar with our system already, while Painter is the young gun we drafted. Odd men out are Boren, Cornick, Foketi simply because I have never heard of them. Garland, while a fan favorite, I don't believe will ever see an active roster. Vallos is no better than any of the ones Ive kept on. Walton is gonzo. Im going to catch a ton of flack for this, but I don't believe he will be able to get back to form from that horrific injury. We cannot waste games finding out if he is going to be alright when we are going for a SB. Kuper is gone because the injury that he suffered vs the Chiefs ruined him, and he costs too much.

Rodney

The running backs are a slam dunk with Hillman, Ball, Moreno and Hester. Short of cutting off Moreno's right pinky toe, there's virtually nothing Jeremiah Johnson can do to make the roster at this point. He's having a good camp again, but it's too little too late. He's not eligible for the P.S. this year, and it'll be C.J. Anderson taking that role instead. Jacob Tamme is going to get cut or traded pretty soon, but I don't envy Coach Fox in making that decision. And Virgil Green isn't making it any easier on himself with his poor play at camp. It's something of a close call there, but I generally follow the money as a tie breaker. Jacob is the 7th highest paid player on our team. Cutting him this year will allow us to spend an extra $5.6M next year - when it's time to re-up so many young guns.


Ryan Clady (LT), Zane Beadles (LG), Louis Vasquez (RG), and Orlando Franklin (RT)... Does anybody want to argue with me when I say these four starters are all Pro Bowl caliber players? After the starting four, it then looks like this: Manny (5) as the starting center or the key interior swing-backup. A free agent (or trade) should be brought in to fill whichever of those two roles that Manny isn't in (6) . Chris Kuper will take a pay cut and remain with this team (7). Chris Clark is the key backup at both tackle positions (8), and I'll go with Steve Vallos at #9 for his tremendous versatility. This means I'm cutting Phillip Blake and hoping he lands on the practice squad, along with Vinston Painter. Update: Ryan Lija will fill that free agent role that was discussed at number six.

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CH74

If the Broncos keep only three TE's, I think Dreesen will end up being the odd man out. Virgil Green is the poor man's Dreesen with some upside and a cheaper contract. Thomas has been making more noise than usual in camp, and Tamme is a versatile Manning favorite. Any way you slice it, there is a tough cut coming at TE unless one get's traded in the coming weeks.

At running back, I'd love to see the Mountain Man make Lance Ball expendable, but we have all made that wish before. He is having a typical camp so far, but he will probably find away to squander those good feelings once we get into pre season games. I think CJ Anderson will end up on the practice squad. I could see the Broncos holding on to four plus Hester or the big three and Hester. I think what route they go will depend on whether the injury bug keeps rearing it's ugly head.

If you told me that we were keeping nine Olineman, normally I'd tell you that is probably one too many. With all the upheaval at Center, it might not be a bad idea to keep a spare Center hanging around at least until Kuper or Walton clears the PUP. If I am keeping nine, my reserves are probably going to be Clark and Painter for tackle depth with Vallos and Blake on the interior. Sorry Foketi and Boren, you're heading to the practice squad! (Note: I wrote this before the acquisition of Lilja, which muddies the waters a bit. We'll see how it all pans out)

Fabio

At TE I really doubt we're going to carry only 3. If we do, I'd cut Jacob Tamme for salary cap purposes (thinking about the next year savings). Dreessen is our best all around tight end, he can block decently and he is a legit redzone threat. Julius Thomas was named the odd man out before TC, but the reports have him shining almost every day. Virgil Green is a heck of a blocker and can receive some passes as well. They both are young and locks. Tamme is the pass catcher who is receiving a big paycheck, so it makes him the expendable on the group. Another argument to support this cut is bringing the Wes Welker hiring to the table. He is the reason why we are likely going to use an 11 personnel much more than any other.

The odd man out at RB is an easy call to me: Lance Ball. The jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none doesn't fit this talented stable anymore. I'd have Montee Ball, Moreno, Hillman, Hester and maybe another kid (CJ Anderson) and I'd feel really great if I were Eric, Adam and/or the both Johns with this group.

I always thought we were going to carry 8 OLinemen to the final roster. Once Kuper was cleared to return, we could then choose another bubble player at any other position to complete 9 OLinemen. And then, when JD was cleared to join the group, we could cut the worst interior OLineman until that point.

It's not going to happen anymore, so we first need to breakdown the positions of need to build our OL. To me this year we need 3 tackles, 2 centers and 4 guards. No surprises at tackle with Clady, Franklin and Clark. The interior players would be: Vasquez, Beadles, Lilja, Ramirez, Blake and Painter (assuming we still don't know where he fits better). So the 2 odd men out to make room for Kuper and Walton would be Lilja and Blake (I don't like this pick, hit me on the comments if you want to talk about why).

2) Why do you think certain players attract a cult like following in Training Camp--think of guys like Jeremiah Johnson and previously Mario Fannin.

Calikula

Guys like these get a cult following because people love to root for an underdog. These guys have to EARN their way to a roster spot, really EARN it, by working hard and beating out 3rd, 2nd, and finally 1st stringers. They will never enjoy the luxury of getting a franchise handed to em the way some players like a Ryan Leaf or JaMarcus Russel do. Secondly, people are always looking for that diamond in the rough, another Rod Smith, Chris Harris, or Kurt Warner. At least for me, it gives me a feeling of extra bragging rights to say "Yeah, and we got that guy undrafted!" Lastly, some of these guys have some eye popping stats, like Fannin's size and speed combination.

Rodney

The reason we pine away at late-round-nobodies after a little flash in the pan here and there, is the same reason Beiber cheats on Selena. It's because we are men, by and large. We have short attention spa... ohhhhh, shinny! Having steak at home in the fridge sometimes takes a back seat to having hamburger on the grill. We get bored and complacent with what we have and are easily distracted by a quick highlight reel.


The problem with most hotties with a body and a little junk in the trunk is that they're usually action-packed with baggage that's tucked away elsewhere. The hotter she is at first glance, the crazier she is behind the scenes. Or dumb. Or catty and doesn‘t get along with other girls. There's usually a reason she's a free agent. Our job, lady and gentlemen, is to find it. You know, instead of getting all twiterpated and googly eyed and whatnot. The only difference between a guy like Julius Thomas and Mario Fannin in this analogy is that one's a fugazi and one of them is your future wife. Choose wisely, because there're about 15:1 in ratio.

CH74

Ahh, the training camp cult following! I think we have a tendency to fall in love with certain players in camp because of the excitement of finally getting back to football. We are all looking for that next great player that came out of nowhere like a Rod Smith or a Kurt Warner. We all want to find that next diamond in the rough and be able to tell everybody, "See, I told ya"! With Mario Fannin and JJ, they were around in the days when the Broncos couldn't run the football to save themselves. I think we were all looking for salvation and were willing to pin those hopes on any running back that looked like they could get us a 4 YPC average. We were drinking the Kool-Aide. Most of us go into camp looking for answers and sometimes we get to the point where we make our own!

3) After reading the various reports on the first 5 days of TC, what have been some of the surprises to you?

Calikula

Duke Ihenacho for sure. I am surprised to hear how well he is doing. He's gotten a ton of picks, and fought his way up to the firsts. Man, if he keeps this up in the preseason, some of the other guys had better watch their backs, because this kid may wind up getting starting time at this pace.Hillman is my surprise #2. His pass pro looks like it has improved by leaps and bounds, and it sounds like his running is improved too. If he can stay healthy, and fix his ball security, we may not have to worry about Montee Ball coming on this year or not.

Rodney

Elvis has left the building but The King may have just arrived. Different sides of the ball and whatnot, but hey, work with me here. Tavarres King has been singing a catchy tune all throughout the first week of Training Camp, and it's just too darned good to turn it down. He's a late 5th round rookie that's playing behind the best receiving trio in the entire league. The fact that we still know his name is a win. He was the talk of the town on Day One, after catching a 50 yard bomb from Brock, and he's been turning heads ever since. And it's not just the big plays, my peeps; he's been pretty consistent as well. However, you should still expect pretty much nothing from him after preseason concludes this year, and instead prepare yourselves for the return of the King in another school year, once one of the big kids have moved on.
On defense, Duke Ihenacho would certainly be a wise choice. My guess is that the other three amigos who are participating in this drill may have chosen him as well, so I'll save some words here and instead say ditto. A bit more on him in a second anyway..

CH74

After five days of reading camp reports, the biggest surprise to me so far is Duke Ihenacho. I knew the safety battle was going to be interesting, but it sounds like he is making it even more interesting. I sense another camp cult following in the making with this kid if he doesn't make the final roster. So far, I think he has an edge on Jammer, which is kind of scary.

Another pleasant surprise so far has been Ronnie Hillman and his "Montee Who?" act. Right now, it appears as if he was dead serious about taking control of the starting roll. Good for Ronnie, I hope he keeps it going into the season and beyond. On that same note, I am surprised that Montee Ball hasn't shown us a little more. Even though I was one of the few who had tempered expectations from the rookie, I had expected a little bit more from him. Hopefully he steps it up!

Fabio

A surprise is something you don't expect. It can be a good surprise or a crappy one. So as I don't think the players are performing any different than I expected, none of them surprised me. Serious.

That's why my surprise this year isn't a good one: I'm surprised with the fact that my center is injured and so is his backup! This is really awful. I'm curious to see how the solutions provided by the front-office (whether it's Ramirez, Kuper, Vallos, Lilja, [insert any name], etc) are going to perform. I'd never expect we'd have to handle a problem like this.

4) Of the backup/reserve players, which one (or more if there's more) do you think can earn a spot as a starter in 2013?

Calikula

Not sure if he is listed as a backup to Adams as of right now, but Im really high on Quinton Carter. It really sucks about his injury, because he has what you're looking for in a safety as far as size, speed, and hands. If he can get back to the form that he had at the end of '11, then Adams is bye bye.Ihenacho is my 2nd choice, because he is sounding like he is tearing it up in TC. Knock on wood, I just hope he doesnt turn out like Jason Hunter did last year, who really brought it on and beat out Ayers for a starting job, only to get placed on IR.Lastly, I think Virgil Green can beat out Tamme for playing time again, especially if he improves his hands, which werent all that bad in limited snaps last year.


Thanks for letting me participate in this Mike, it was a pleasure and an honor.
Semper Fi and Go Broncos!

Rodney

The strong safety position is the final frontier and the only choice to make here. Well other than Manny at center, but that's been beaten to death already. The problem with the safety group as a whole is that I feel like it's marred in mediocrity at the moment. Quinton Jammer somehow got lost on his way to the Rockies, and Quinton Carter is just getting his legs underneath him after his recent recovery from injury. David Bruton is a core special teamer and a swing-backup at safety, but he has stiff hips and isn't very good in man-coverage (basically a death blow for a SS). (Duke) Nacho, the undrafted rookie of 2012, is starting to step up and has really made people take notice. He's fiery and athletic, and he plays each down like it's his last. That's the word I'm reading on him from camp, anyway. It's a good sign for him, but I feel like it's lacking a bit of context because he hasn‘t been competing with what I consider a talented group. Thus far, the safety competition hasn‘t made me feel all that safe.


However, that's largely because my man Quinton Carter is just 6 practices removed from the StairMaster marathon. He came with a pretty high pedigree out of college and started in his rookie season. He's athletic, he can cover, and he's physical in the box. His training camp reports closely resemble a sturdy ladder thus far, as he's already poaching time with the 1's after having been brought along slowly for his first couple days back. If there's a guy that's going to unseat Pops in that starting role, it comes down to Carter and Duke. The Sophomore has the early lead, but don't sleep on Carter in his Junior year either.

CH74

With being just five days into camp, that is a tough question. I'd love to see Quanterus Smith make a mark for himself at some point this season, but starting might be a bit of a reach for 2013. I think at some point, Sylvester Williams is going to start challenging for more playing time, but that will probably be later in the season. I want someone, anyone to step up and replace Ayers at RDE because he is going out of his way to prove the doubters right. I can see Ihenacho making a splash and making the roster. I hope he continues to impress in camp. It's nice to have some depth for a change. Stay healthy guys, and GO BRONCOS!!!

Fabio

Brock Osweiler. Just kidding... we also need some humor, don't we!? =)

This is tough to say because they are all on the utmost competition out there right now. The primary back spot isn't a lock yet with Hillman, as well as the safety competition looks brutal at this point. So I'm going with the easiest spot: defensive end.

Name me anything you want, but I'm really concerned at this position. Ayers isn't a legit edge rusher imo. And hey, did anybody here research Shaun Phillips grades on Pro Football Focus for the '12 season? He was negative on both run stuffing and pass rushing on almost every game. He wasn't even close to a man capable of replacing Elvis Dumervil, so we have a huge need at RDE. No matter if Von Miller can avoid the suspension, or if Phillips will put his hands on the dirt every down at the right side, I feel too bad about the defensive end position.

I hope this group proves me wrong and I can taste a delicious crow when the season is over and we win the trophy, though for now I'm not very confident. That's why I say that between Jeremy Beal and Quanterus Smith, one of them is likely to earn a starting spot over Ayers at RDE, kicking Phillips to some packages and looks as an extra pass rusher from the edge.


Fantastic answers and insights from our own members, many thanks to Calikula, Rodney, CH74, and Fabio for letting me pick their brain!

Keep an eye out in the fanposts to sign up for the next edition, and if you have any questions SEND THEM TO ME!!!!


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