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Ultimate Fan Guide - Training Camp!

Finally - FINALLY! - Training Camp is here, and we can put mock drafts and training camp predictions aside for another year as we get ready to bask in the glory that is a Broncos football season.

Training Camp opens this morning in Dove Valley, and no true Broncos fan is not crazy ecstatic right now. And that most definitely includes our own ultimate fans - ADanishMan, pmp8911 and Nastyj - who help us kick off the first real Ultimate Fan Guide of the 2015-16 season.

Broncos GM John Elway and head coach Gary Kubiak spoke to the media yesterday and not surprisingly the bulk of the conversation revolved around quarterback Peyton Manning and his outlook for this season. One thing was definitely clear - things will be different this year. Not only in scheme but in approach.

Elway noted in fact that his own experience as quarterback in his final years was all about not carrying the offense.

"No. 1, we're going to have good balance on the offensive side," Elway said. "What I can say late in my career - that was my best friend, the running game. I think that running game will be Peyton's best friend also."

And the offensive line will definitely be his best friend. Elway believes in the youth of the Broncos O-line even if "it's a little bit scary" at times.

We're obviously very, very young, but I'm excited about the kids that we have. They're young, they're tough, they're athletic and they want to play. -GM John Elway on the youthful Offensive Line

"I'm excited about it," Elway said."We're obviously very, very young, but I'm excited about the kids that we have in the offensive line. They're young, they're tough, they're athletic and they want to play."

Elway added that this kind of scenario means a fast learning curve.

"I'm excited about it because I think we have a chance to really be good there. But obviously, they're young, and it's going to take some time."

Will two weeks be enough, John?

Probably not, but we can all hope for a lot of fast learners.

MHR: John Elway admitted yesterday that "youth is always a little bit scary" regarding the Broncos offensive line. Which particular position/players are you most interested in watching/hearing about and what are your expectations of the outcome for the various position battles among these "youth?" What lineup do you predict in the first preseason game for the O-Line?

ADanishMan: I'm stoked to see Ty Sambrailo compete for the starting job at LT, and as far as the O-Line goes, I fully expect him to take the starting job. Garland will end up playing LG after waiting for several years to take a crack at the starting gig. Matt Paradis will take a few pointers from Gino Gradkowski regarding the Kubiak ZBS and take the C job. I'm penciling in Louis Vasquez and Chris Clark to be our starters on the right; Vasquez is, well, Vasquez, and I truly think that the ZBS will help Clark (as will losing offensive coordinator Adam Gase, who couldn't differentiate between scheme and personnel issues.)

pmp8911: I'll be most interested in hearing about the tackle position, and specifically Sambrailo. Our tackles will play a huge role in our outside zone run scheme and keeping #18 upright, so hearing about the competition and progress at the position will be huge, especially Sambrailo as he'll be in charge of protecting our 39-year-old quarterback's blindside.

Seeing if Chris Clark can excel in the zone scheme and if Michael Schofield can be a future starter will also be something to watch. And by the time the preseason rolls, I feel that our starting o-line will be Sambo - Garland - Gradkowski - Vasquez - Clark.

MHR:  Assuming Ty Sambrailo starts at Left Tackle (as he's been tapped for since Clady got hurt in the offseason), how do you think this young gun can handle both the literal pressure from NFL defenses and the mental pressure of being a starter as a rookie and having to protect Peyton Freaking Manning?

ADanishMan: I think Sambrailo is more than capable of handling the pressures that come with playing in a NFL offense. He's a smart player who excelled in keeping fellow rookie Garrett Grayson upright in college. That said, I expect Sambrailo to have a few speed bumps throughout the season. It's not often that a rookie offensive lineman has an amazing season right out of the gate, but with the added benefits of a quick-release quarterback and a zone-blocking scheme, I don't see why Sambrailo can't fill in admirably for Clady.

pmp8911: Mentally, I feel like Sambrailo is ready for the pressure. Based off everything we've seen, he's taking the right approach to the situation. Learning from those around you and taking everything a day one at a time is the way to do it.

As the blindside protector for PFM, I feel like they're will be some growing pains early in the season, especially since we'll be facing pass rushers such as Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, and Justin Houston in the first couple weeks. But I also believe Sambrailo will put together a strong second half of the season (including our three-game postseason run), much like the Ravens' o-line performed at the end of the season last year under Kubiak.

MHR: Broncos defense - Do you think we will finally see the aggressive pass rush we were so excited about before last season? How do you think rookie Shane Ray will fit into this mix?

ADanishMan:  I think the defense is going to be the real strength of this team. Obviously, the offense is no weakness, but the level of talent on the defense mixed with the defensive prowess of Wade Phillips is going to give opposing quarterbacks night terrors.

Having Miller and Ware coming off the edge is enough of a threat, but potentially adding Shane Ray to the mix on third down brings me great joy. He won't register stellar numbers, since he'll likely be playing in a rotation with Ware, but I can see him snagging 10 sacks or so. As a whole, I think the defense can nab 50 sacks and, oh, 30+ turnovers.

With the talent, coaching and tenacity on this defense, they have the potential to be ranked No. 1 by season's end and remain in Broncos lore for years to come.   -pmp8911

pmp8911: With the talent, coaching and tenacity on this defense, they have the potential to be ranked No.1 by season's end and remain in Broncos lore for years to come. I think the floor for them this season is a top five ranking, unless catastrophic injuries strike. Listening to all our players talk about the new scheme gives me hope that we will finally see the aggressive, havoc-wrecking defense we thought we would have last year under Del Rio.

With Derek Wolfe and Malik Jackson being released to really rush the passer, we will now see the full potential of everyone on our d-line. And with Von and Ware in the more natural positions, quarterbacks will have nightmares before playing us.

I expect rookie Shane Ray to fit right in and not only spell Ware, but come in alongside them in special packages on passing downs. And with everyone else taking up double teams, Ray might just fly by his competition and tackle. As the SEC's Defensive Rookie of the Year last year, Ray is no slouch at tackling. At this rate, Tom Brady might just wish he were suspended when the Pats play the Broncos ;).

MHR: Possibly the biggest question mark on the defense is the line, and specifically the middle. How confident are you in Sly Williams at NT? With Derek Wolfe out for the first four games, do you think the defensive line will be much weaker or will Kenny Anunike and others be able to step up and fill his space? What kind of impact do you think Wolfe will have when he is back for Week 5?

ADanishMan:  This is really a make-or-break season for Williams, as he hasn't quite lived up to his draft status over the last couple seasons. I think that having Bill Kollar coach him up will definitely help, but I'll hedge my bets until the preseason.

This is a make-or-break season for Sly Williams and having Bill Kollar coach him up will definitely help. Losing Wolfe sucks but the next man is Kenny Anunike who was well on his way to a roster spot before an injury last year.   -ADanishMan

Losing Wolfe sucks, especially in the run game, but I think that the next man up is going to be Kenny Anunike, who was well on his way to a roster spot last year before an injury (elbow, I think?) landed him on IR. If nothing else, I think we could get by for the first four weeks on a rotation of defensive ends until Wolfe returns in Week 5 to help us roll Oakland.

pmp8911: I think this is the year that Sly breaks out and proves he deserved being a first round pick. Coming out of college, scouts said that Sly had all the talent, he was just inconsistent with his effort. With Kollar coaching the d-line now, that won't be an issue anymore.

Now with Wolfe being suspended, I feel like the run defense as a whole will be worse, but that this gives Anunike the perfect opportunity to step up and show he belongs. He doesn't have the weight to play the run like Wolfe, but I think he has a higher ceiling as a pass rusher. We also have some vets in Walker and Smith (hopefully) who can serve as a stopgap. As for Wolfe's return, I think he'll be fired up to not only make up for the suspension, but to earn some future $$'s as he plays in a contract year.

MHR: Our secondary is considered one of the best on paper with CHJ, TJ Ward and Aqib Talib among the starters. What is the biggest strength in that secondary? weakness?

ADanishMan:  It's hard to pick one "biggest strength" with a secondary as loaded as ours. Chris Harris Jr. is arguably best cornerback in football, Aqib Talib should be used to his strengths this season (eat it, Del Rio), and Bradley Roby should only improve upon a solid rookie campaign. My one concern (you can call it our biggest weakness) is at the FS position. Darian Stewart isn't a bad player, by any means, but he's definitely the biggest question mark in our secondary for the moment.

pmp8911: The biggest strength is without a doubt our corner depth. We have two top 10 corners in CHJ and Talib, a future star in Bradley Roby, as well as solid depth in Kayvon Webster, Tony Carter and Lorenzo Doss.

The biggest weakness in the secondary is the free safety position as Darian Stewart has only performed at high level for one year and Bruton has been nothing more than a special teams player until beginning to flash late last year. Omar Bolden is solid depth, but I don't see him as a potential starter.

MHR:  Of the position battles at safety, defensive line and even inside linebacker, which one is going to be your favorite to watch develop...and why? Prediction for who wins out?

ADanishMan: Free Safety will be my favorite position to watch unfold. Stewart  definitely has an advantage in terms of starting experience, but I wouldn't bet against David Bruton to nab the starting gig.

pmp8911: I am most looking forward to seeing the position battle at inside linebacker, as we have a ton of young talent there. Todd Davis really showed out in mini camp, Steven Johnson has always been a great tackler, Lamin Barrow was a 5th round pick a year ago with lots of athletic ability, and Corey Nelson flew around the field in the Jets game last year.

It will also be a critical competition as we don't know if Danny Trevathan and Brandon Marshall will be 100 percent by the time the season rolls around. We will keep five inside 'backers: Brandon Marshall, Danny Trevathan, Steven Johnson, Todd Davis and Lamin Barrow.

MHR: We've all heard the talk about the shifts in the offensive scheme to a more planned running game and more play action. Since it's all the media can talk about, how do you anticipate Peyton Manning handling this shift and what will you be looking for in Training Camp to see how well he can pull this off at 39?

ADanishMan: Peyton is the most cerebral quarterback in the game. I have no doubt he can take a new system and run with it, even at 39. He's stated that he relishes the challenge of a new system, but few things truly challenge Peyton Manning. Who says old dogs can't learn new tricks?

You've got two smart, bright offensive football minds that are competitive and want to win. There was never, ever a thought in my mind that this was not going to work. Peyton's about winning. He wants to win games and he wants to win a championship. -John Elway

pmp8911: Considering we're talking about THE Peyton Freaking Manning, I expect nothing but offensive excellence. When you put two of the brightest offensive minds in football together in Manning and Kubiak, you're bound to be successful. The first few games of the season will be a little "off," but after we smooth out the rough edges, this offense will succeed.

The running game will be able to alleviate some of the pressure on Manning, and the play-action pass, of which Manning is already one of the best in history, will provide the offense several big plays. The thought that Manning's arm strength is diminishing is bogus, as we all saw that his struggles in the Colts' game were related to overthrows, not under throws.

My only concern is Manning having to play under center, but being the workaholic that he is, I think he'll quell my worries. With Anderson leading a strong running game and Manning throwing to DT and Sanders, this will no doubt be the most balanced Broncos offense we've seen since Elway and Kubes were winning Super Bowls together.

MHR: Give us your depth chart for the running backs. Who gets cut, who goes to the Practice Squad...and why that order?

ADanishMan: C.J. Anderson, Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman, and Juwan Thompson will all make the roster (and in that order.) Kapri Bibbs and Jeremy Stewart will make the Practice Squad.

Anderson is the clear-cut starter after taking the starting job last year and running for daylight. Ball, if he's fully healthy and performs well in camp, will back him up/play as the RB1-B to Anderson's RB1-A. Hillman is a change of pace back, nothing more, though he played well enough last season as a starter. Thompson will be our bruiser back/insurance policy against injury.

Both Bibbs and Stewart could have a chance at the roster if they perform well enough in the preseason. I can't decide who gets cut just yet, I love them all, but when the RB stable is as talented as ours, someone's gonna draw the short straw.

pmp8911: When the regular season rolls around, I expect our running back depth chart to go as follows: Anderson, Ball, Hillman then Thompson. After what Anderson showed last year, he deserves to be the opening day starter. He's a perfect fit for this offense and is in line for a big season.

I see Ball as our No. 2 back, but I still think he'll be able to put up some solid numbers. Ben Tate averaged 610 yards rushing and threeTDs (while missing six games) backing up Arian Foster for two years in Houston with Kubiak, and I think we can expect the same kind of production for Ball. Ronnie Hillman is third for me because he adds a speed element our other backs don't have, and was also very productive in his four starts last year.

Thompson is fourth because he's an aggressive runner who showed he knows how to get into the endzone. It really hurt to leave Bibbs off this list, as I feel like he's a very talented back who will end up on someone's 53 man roster. It's a close call for me between Bibbs and Thompson, as I think Bibbs is a better fit for the offense. But in the end I went with Thompson because his ability to play fullback in a pinch, which could save us a roster spot at tight end.

MHR: The inclusion of a fullback is intriguing in this offense. Who is the most likely candidate and how much do you think the Broncos are going to utilize that position this year?

ADanishMan: My money would be on James Casey to be the starting FB. As much as I like Joe Don Duncan's potential, I think Casey has the leg up in this competition. I'm not sure how much we'll use a FB - I think we'll run a lot of 2TE sets - but Casey is the most reliable man for the job.

pmp8911: Casey is definitely going to be our fullback opening day. His abilities as a receiver and a blocker, as well as his experience in Kubes' offense, gives him leg up over Joe Don Duncan. In Casey's last 2 years with Kubes, he averaged 26 receptions, 295 yards and 2 TDs, which I think we can expect this year as well unless Virgil Green really comes along and eats into Casey's targets. I don't expect him to be used a runner, as he's only had two carries in his career thus far.

MHR: What do you expect out of the kicking game and who do you think ends up on the team?

ADanishMan: The kicking game should stay pretty consistent. Barth will be our guy for reasonable-length field goals while either McManus or Schmitz will make the roster for kickoffs and long FGs. The real competition will be at punter. Will Colquitt step his game up and earn his salary? Or will Schmitz or McManus take the job from him and keep us from carrying three kicking specialists again? I, personally, am all aboard the Karl Schmitz bandwagon. The dude can do it all. Hopefully he can perform well enough in camp to take the job from Colquitt.

pmp8911: While our new special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis gives me hope for the unit, I still expect middle of the league punting. While I think Karl Schmitz is the future, I also think that he'll need a year on the practice squad before he can really compete, considering he hasn't punted in a game in seven seasons.

I think Barth we still be an elite kicker up to 50 yards out from the post, but I am worried about the team's kickoff situation. McManus, our kickoff specialist last year, couldn't impress as a field goal kicker and we didn't hear any reports from minicamp saying his accuracy had improved. I think this will be one of the more interesting positions to watch in camp, and that hopefully McManus or Schmitz can step up so we don't have to carry three specialists again. But right now, I have to predict that Barth, Colquitt and McManus all make the roster.

MHR: Which players are going to be your favorites to watch at camp this year?

ADanishMan: My top three are Osweiler, Trevathan and Latimer. Osweiler because he's the future of the franchise; Trevathan, because I want to see him return from injury and pick up where he left off; and Latimer, because I want to see him cash in on a year's worth of learning (effectively) from the bench.

The player I'm most excited to watch in Training Camp though is Trevathan. After spending a whole season (more or less) on the bench due to three injuries to the same leg, I'm hoping he can come back and show the same skills that made him such a stud in 2013. Having Trev back will be a huge bonus to our already-stacked linebacking corps.

pmp8911: Although there are many great players to choose from, the player I'll be paying the most attention to this year is Osweiler. Entering the final year of his rookie contract, we still don't have much of an idea about how Brock will perform as a starting NFL quarterback. And considering I believe this is Manning's last year, I really hope Osweiler starts looking like a starter. Otherwise, we face a very scary and cloudy future. It's been 19 years since Jim Kelly and Bernie Kosar retired from the Bills and Browns respectively, and neither of those teams have had any luck finding a replacement. I really hope we've already found ours in Brock.

A Few Predictions (Nastyj):

Preseason W-L record? 2-2

Number of awesome catches noted during camp? I want to see at least one, one-handed grab from Latimer like last year, and a few big plays from Virgil Green!

Number of huge tackles noted during camp? I'd rather see those in the preseason games than against our own players. I love our defense being aggressive but I don't want anyone hurt in camp!

Number of times players say each of the following clichés during post-camp interviews:

"at the end of the day" (5)

"it's going to be a battle" (15. 14 of them in reference to the offensive line)

"I'm just excited to play" (8)

"The defense will be more aggressive" (10)

"We're going to be kicking and screaming" (2)

Another cliché you expect to hear?

"We're looking to put the best 22 players on the field"

"We'll have to wait and see"

Camp star for each of the following:

RB - CJ Anderson - His first camp as an acting starter, he's gonna be hungry

WR - Latimer and maybe Norwood

TE - Virgil Green

OLine - Ben Garland

CB - Webster will remind people who he his

S - Bruton

ST - Schmitz

A Few Predictions (ADanishMan):

Season W-L record? 13-3 (losses at Kansas City, against Green Bay, and a surprise loss against Minnesota.)

Number of times players say each of the following clichés during post-camp interviews:

"at the end of the day" 15

"it's going to be a battle" 12

"I'm just excited to play" 10

"The defense will be more aggressive" 30

"We're going to be kicking and screaming" 20

Camp star for each of the following positions?

RB - Kapri Bibbs

WR - Cody Latimer

TE - Virgil Green

OLine - Ty Sambrailo

CB - Chris Harris Jr.

S - David Bruton

ST - Karl Schmitz

A Few Predictions (pmp8911):

Preseason W-L record? 4-0, we'll Rock with Brock ;)

Number of times players say each of the following clichés during post-camp interviews:

"at the end of the day" - 18

"it's going to be a battle" - 58

"I'm just excited to play" - 56

"The defense will be more aggressive" - 94

"We're going to be kicking and screaming" - 25

(Another cliché?) I think we'll be down on the cliches a bit this year without Foxy.

Camp star for each of the following positions:

RB - Kapri Bibbs

WR - Cody Latimer

TE - Joe Don Duncan

OLine - Matt Paradis

CB - Bradley Roby

S - David Bruton

ST - Omar Bolden