After the first Kaptain's Log from training camp this past week, I was asked a myriad of questions from MHR member Gelder. So I thought, hey, since I have the day off, maybe I can get to this and let loose with a few more thoughts. Well, it has been close enough to one week into the yearly evaluation exercise known as training camp for the Denver Broncos and more importantly, they have been in pads rather than underwear for the last three practices. Things are finally getting chippy and to paraphrase what Derek Wolfe said the other day, "sometimes you have to stir it up to get the blood flowing and get everyone into it. To Linemen, it's all about being physical and pushing people around. The pads go on and it's time to punch somebody in the nose."
Well I haven't seen any blood spilt, but it is easy to imagine what the "Wolfe Man" is talking about. The last game they played was an embarrassment. They have been lifting weights for 6 months and played "Patty Cake" in their underwear. Finally the pads go one and they get to hit somebody. Anybody. There must be blood.
Switching subjects, the Broncos have a tradition going where an Undrafted Free Agent has made the final roster for the last nine seasons and there is certainly a chance for number 10 this year. I believe the answer to that question is Wide Receiver/Returner Isaiah Burse. First off, he received the biggest signing bonus of all the Broncos' undrafted players. Secondly, he is getting the majority of the reps at the return position. Thirdly, unlike last year's return man, Trindon Holliday, Burse actually can play Wide Receiver. No extra roster spot is needed. Hey I loved Trindon Holliday all the way back to LSU. I was over the moon when the Broncos picked him up of the waiver wire. He was exciting, fast and quick. Utterly amazing. BUT, his small stature and hands were liabilities as a receiver and ball carrier respectively. Out in the open, he could score from anywhere. He even set team records for Touchdowns, breaking newly inducted Ring of Fame Rick Upchurchs' long standing marks. I understand why he had to go though. On a team that has had numerous problems finishing on the plus side of the turnover ratio, the smart play is to cut the negatives. Basically, if Holliday had a much better touchdown-to-fumble ratio, he'd still have a job in Denver.
Ok. I said I was going to address Gelder's queries, so let's work on that. The main thing he wanted to know was,"How is the critical backup doing at each position?"
The offensive line: Four out of the five starters are set. We know them to be; Ryan Clady, Orlando Franklin (who is doing terrific), Manny Ramirez at Center and Louis Vasquez anchoring Right Guard. The battle id for Right Tackle and it is between Chris Clark and Winston Justice. Rookie Michael Schofield will be kept as well. Basically what we have is two Guards in Ben Garland and Ryan Miller, the rest are Tackles. So far, Will Montgomery is the backup Center who can swing to Guard if needed. The only bad snap in Camp belongs to Monty. Matt Paradis is during fine, but he is playing with the 3rd string. At this point, it isn't because of his performance, so don't read into that. He is getting reps, so leave it at that. Matt is also Practice Squad eligible and is a late rounder.
At tight end, Julius Thomas, Virgil Green and Jacob Tamme. If they keep four like they did last year, the battle is between Gerell Robinson and Cam Morrah, with Jameson Konz, who is nicked up, way on the outside looking in.
Quarterbacks: Bryn Renner hasn't thrown a pass. Nuff said.
Wide receivers: My opinion is that they keep six. Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Wes Welker, Bubba Caldwell, Cody Latimer and Isaiah Burse. The rest are trying out for the rest of the league.
Running backs: Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman, C.J. Anderson. The battle here is for the 4th spot. Brennan Clayseems to be ahead of the field. I like Kapri Bibbs, but he hasn't gotten a lot of reps. Juwan Thompson has received more and I think the team actually wants a little bigger guy in reserve, simply for a goal line/short yardage "Plan C" option. Jerodis Williams is getting about one rep per practice and we all know you can't make the team like that. I'd say it's up in the air between Clay, Bibbs and an unknown Free Agent pick up.
Defensive line: DeMarcus Ware, Malik Jackson, Derek Wolfe, Quanterus Smith, Kenny Anunike, Hall Davis, Greg Latta, who is injured. That is the pecking order. The team kept seven defensive linemen last year. It is entirely possible that they keep eight this year, but who knows. Malik and Wolfe can (and do) move inside so that gives the team leeway. Ware and Smith are pass rushers and it's difficult to see them letting Quanterus go. At the tackle spot, there is Terrance Knighton, Sylvester Williams, Marvin Austin, Kevin Vickerson, Mitch Unrein and Sione Fua. I can't vouch for Big Vick, because I think he is limited as he recovers from last season's injury. The rest of these big boys are having great Camps. So who do you cut? More than one good player who could do more than be a backup on another team will be cut. Sad but true.
Linebacker: Von Miller, Danny Trevathan, Nate Irving and Lerentee McCray appear to be keepers. Last season, the Broncos kept 8 linebackers. I am willing to bet that number will be seven this season, with the other roster spot going to a linemen. So, three spots left out of eight combatants. In my opinion, Steven Johnson, Brandon Marshall, who are both having good Camps and Lamin Barrow are the three insiders and in no particular order, Shaq Barrett,Jamar Chaney, L.J. Fort, Jerrell Harris and Chase Vaughn are out of luck.
Defensive backs: Last year the team kept 10 players. The four starters are Aqib Talib, Chris Harris, T.J. Ward and Rahim Moore. The fight for the 3rs and 4th Cornerback spot is between Kayvon Webster and Omar Bolden. The 5th CB will be Bradley Roby. At Safety, David Bruton is an automatic due to his special teams value. The other two have to be Quinton Carter and Duke Ihenacho. Cornerbacks Tony Carter, Jerome Murphy and Jordan Sullen will get the axe and Safeties Louis Young and Charles Mitchell, who are both doing well and the injured John Boyett as candidates to meet "the Turk" at the end of camp.
Another question was, "Who is ready to play right now?"
Peyton Manning, Emmanuel Sanders, Wes Welker, Julius Thomas, Jacob Tamme, T.J. Ward and all the Defensive Tackles could play a game right now. Aqib Talib also is doing fine, but he is still getting the Patriot stench out of his mouth. Von says he is ready to go too, but there is still time before the season begins. I am happy to report that he should start on opening day, which is better than I hoped for. HORN!
-- Kaptain Kirk