Each season there are multiple story lines for the Broncos as they head into Training Camp, and this year is no different. Now with the Broncos veterans reporting for Camp today, and having their first practice tomorrow, let's take a look at the storylines surrounding the team.
1. Peyton Manning's health:
Every season Manning has been in Denver he has been the main storyline for them in Camp, and that continues this year.
We all know the struggles Manning had in the second half of last season. He looked old for the first time as a Denver Bronco, and he just didn't look right. Was it his injury, or was his play declining?
David Cutcliffe said earlier this summer that Manning "looks good as ever".
"I thought he looked really healthy. We had talked about nutrition, about sleep, about recovery. He's really so, so smart. So brilliant and so disciplined. But there's another level, always. I thought he looked really fit. I thought his core was great. I watched him train inside, and he looks good and he's strong where he needs to be strong, and he didn't show anything at all from the quad. And we talked a lot about flexibility."
So hopefully Manning looks strong, healthy and like his usual self this season.
A strong summer from Manning will quickly quiet the people doubting Manning. If he struggles it will only make those cries louder.
2. The Manning/Kubiak hybrid offense:
Probably the most interesting storyline this summer is how quarterback Peyton Manning and Head Coach Gary Kubiak can combine their offenses and create a hybrid offense.
The two offensive masterminds have differing styles. Kubiak runs a two tight end offense that loves to run the ball, and Manning runs a fast paced/tempo spread offense that allows him to throw the ball around.
So far everything has been going well according to Kubiak.
It's been very good. To be 39, I'm amazed at his conditioning level, the shape he's in, how he moves around, the feet that he has. He's responded very good. We try to dedicate a lot of our time under center, because that's something he hasn't done much of, so we're probably 3-to-1 under center-to-gun. But we're also continuing to do all the things he's done throughout his career. It's been good.
It's promising to read that about Manning's conditioning level after last season.
As for playing under center it will be something we see often this summer, and probably during the season. The Broncos are putting an emphasis on the run game this year.
I think the biggest adjustment is really just getting back under a center a bunch. Obviously, you're less predictable under center, as far as run and pass. But he made that (adjustment) very quickly. I think the next thing has been our commitment to running the ball in practice. We're basically a 50-50 team when we practice, we're not 70 percent throw or 70 percent shotgun. We're right down the middle. We wanna give ourselves a chance to be good at everything. So I think that's been a little bit of an adjustment for him. And then asking him to take days and say, "Today, you're gonna coach." I know that's been tough on him, because he's let me know that. Hopefully, that'll be good over the long haul.
I like everything Kubiak is saying here. Giving the 39-year old Manning some rest this summer keeping him fresh, and putting an emphasis on the run game.
It will be interesting to see how these two work everything out this season.
3. Figuring out the offensive line:
Heading into this season the Broncos offensive line was a major question mark and it still is heading into Training Camp.
The Broncos addressed this weakness by selecting offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo in the second-round of the 2015 NFL Draft, and center/guard Max Garcia in the fourth round. These two were supposed to help the Broncos solidify the offensive line.
Unfortunately left tackle Ryan Clady tore his ACL earlier this offseason and will miss the 2015 season. This left an even bigger hole in the Broncos offensive line. Now they're going forward with rookie Ty Sambrailo at left tackle for now at least. They are bringing in veteran Jake Long in for a visit today, and if they do sign him it could change things.
At left guard, it looks like they are moving forward with the inexperienced Ben Garland. Veteran Shelley Smith will look to overtake Garland for that job.
At center first-year player, Matt Paradis is competing with veteran Gino Gradkowski for the starting job. Paradis spent the entire 2014 season on the Broncos Practice Squad, and Gradkowski was acquired from the Ravens.
Right guard is the most settled position on the offensive line. Louis Vasquez is by far the Broncos best offensive lineman, Rookie Max Garcia will be backing him up.
Right tackle will be a battle between veteran's Chris Clark and Ryan Harris. Look for second-year player Michael Schofield to compete as well.
Overall this position is one big question mark. Seeing how these competitions play out will be something to keep an eye on. If everything works out well for the Broncos, they could be in for a great season. If not, it could be a long season for Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
4. Wade Phillips defense:
The Broncos hired veteran defensive coordinator Wade Phillips to replace Jack Del Rio this winter. Unlike Del Rio, Phillips is ready to attack the quarterback this year.
Stopping the run will always be important for a defense, but this year the Broncos are putting an emphasis on rushing the passer.
The Broncos have Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, and rookie first-round pick at outside linebacker and all three are known for their abilities to rush the passer. This is something Wade will utilize to make life pretty awful for opposing quarterbacks.
With all the talent on the Broncos defense, Phillips believes that the Broncos will have a good defense but it is up to them to be great.
"I think we'll have a good defense," Phillips said. "I don't have a doubt about that. How good we can be depends on where we go from now through training camp and into the season. We have some good players. If your scheme doesn't fit a good player, then you've got to change your scheme. We've got some good players and we've got to fit them in there."
I believe the Broncos have all the talent to be a top-five defense in the league and I think Phillips will do great things in Denver.
5. The rookies:
I always look forward to seeing the new batch of Broncos rookies take the field for the first time during the summer.
First-round pick Shane Ray is now 100% and will be able to take part in everything asked of him during Training Camp. I'm excited to see how Ray does when the pads come on. He's known for his explosiveness, and I'm anxious to see him show that on the field. I expect a strong camp and preseason from the rookie edge rusher.
Second round pick Ty Sambrailo was expected to be the team's right tackle, but after a Ryan Clady injury he is now(for now at least) on the left side protecting Manning's blindside. Seeing how he does in team drills against the likes of Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware will be interesting.
Center/guard Max Garcia will be backing up right guard Louis Vasquez in camp. It will be interesting to see if he gets snaps at center this summer.
Cornerback Lorenzo Doss was known for his ball-hawking skills in college, and I'm anxious to see if he shows those same skills in Training Camp/Preseason.
Nose tackle Darius Kilgo is a longshot to make the roster, but his versatility could help him make the roster.
After that, you have the undrafted rookies to watch. The Broncos have had long success with UDFA's each season, so it will be interesting to see if that trend continues this year.
I think we will and my money is on receiver Jordan Taylor and center Dillon Day.