Good morning, Broncos Country!
There is no need to hide your excitement. The defending Super Bowl champs are mere days away from beginning the real work to defend their title.
No more speculation about contracts or crops of photos. None of the manufactured hogwash we've gotten buckets of since March. Just real drama that comes with the return of football.
The focus will undoubtedly remain on the quarterback position and who will become the starter. While undoubtedly important, it's only the second-most important question the offense faces as training camp begins.
As Sylvester Williams said last week on a national radio show, Mark Sanchez is the starter going into camp and it's his job to lose.
The challenge for Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison is to get reps for all three quarterbacks over the course of camp and the preseason. If it is, truly, an open competition.
Common sense says the coaches want to give as many reps as possible for their No. 1 draft pick to see what he can do and where he stands. What better way to test Paxton Lynch than against the No. 1 secondary and defense in the NFL? The challenge becomes not taking reps away from Sanchez, who still needs as much practice with this offense as well.
In that scenario, it's a tough enough task to get equal reps for two guys, let alone three. That's highly, highly, highly unlikely, but also why Kubiak is paid the big bucks.
Even more crucial to the success of the Broncos is the offensive line. As that unit goes, so goes the team. Whomever Kubiak, Dennison and Clancy Barone peg as the starters, they must be better than a season ago (thanks John Madden).
The most crucial component to that success is the run blocking. The Broncos must run the football, and run effectively. Make it a true Kubiak offense where the run sets up the pass. Take as much pressure off the quarterback, whomever he is, as possible.
While it's harder to gauge the effectiveness and success of the offensive line in training camp, keep an eye on movement and technique. According to rookie guard Connor McGovern, organized team activities and coaching from Barone really helped him with his technique.
"(Barone) gave us a lot of drills that we can just do on air on our own," McGovern told the media on Monday. "It was good to get that done. You've practiced it and you know what it feels like. You've seen it on film. Once you've seen it and done it, you can critique yourself after every step, so it was good to get a head start on that."
I'm one of the few who actually thinks the offensive line will be better than it was last season. Of course, it couldn't get much worse. The additions of Russell Okung and Donald Stephenson will pay dividends to the Broncos, plus the return of Ty Sambrailo from injury. The player to watch is McGovern. I would not be surprised to see him in the starting lineup come Sept. 8.
Connor McGovern spent the downtime at home in North Dakota. Spent some weekends at a lake house -- good chance to relax.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) July 25, 2016
"I'm really excited for pads. I think it makes our job a lot easier," he said. "We're actually taught to grab on to something inside and actually have something to hold on to. You can grab a guy's jersey, but he is going to do that rip move, and your hand is going to slip. It's going to be a lot better and really prove your technique when you put pads on."
Remember: When effective, Kubiak's offensive system makes even marginal linemen really, really good. And this is the first year of that offense with him as head coach. That's another reason to feel excitement as football inches closer.
And this cannot be stated enough: Denver's offense is going against the best defense in football every single day. That alone makes the trip to Dove Valley worthwhile just to see what the offense is capable of against Wade Phillips and that unit.
With the defense, Broncos Country shouldn't fret. In fact, it shouldn't scoff at T.J. Ward when he says it can improve in 2016. What would assist in that is an improved offense that actually contributes more than turnovers and three-and-outs.
No doubt it would be nice to have Emmanuel Sanders extended in the next few days, at least before the opener against the Carolina Panthers. That will still happen. Sanders is too valuable on the field and in the locker room, much like Brandon Marshall.
Aside from that contract drama, that pretty much covers it when it comes to speculating about players' futures in Denver. We finally can turn our attention to the field and how the Broncos repeat.
Thank goodness football is just about back.
We've missed you.
Naming rights for Denver Broncos' stadium up for bids
Interested parties have until Monday night to submit bids to take over naming rights for the Broncos' stadium from Sports Authority, which filed for bankruptcy in March.
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Defensive lineman Adam Gotsis and running back Devontae Booker could play big roles with the Broncos if they can prove they're healthy in camp.
Connor McGovern seeks good advice as he continues his growth
The rookie offensive lineman should be able to develop at a pace that doesn't force him into the lineup before he's ready.
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Manning has been cleared of any wrongdoing alleged in the Al-Jazeera America report on PED usage.
Peyton Manning HGH investigation: Why NFL cleared QB
Even if the Al Jazeera report describing Peyton Manning’s connections with HGH had been more comprehensive, the NFL was always going to be fighting an uphill battle in its investigation of the future Hall of Famer.
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Peyton Manning is exonerated while Tom Brady sits. Kevin Seifert breaks down how cooperation played a big role in the investigations of each QB.
AFC West Tracks
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A look at possible candidates on the Chiefs for that additional offense, and how likely each might be to provide it.
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Do the Chiefs have a young rookie who can win the No. 2 CB job or will it be Gaines?
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The NFL will investigate whether Aldon Smith jeopardized his potential reinstatement from a drug-related suspension after video surfaced of the Raiders linebacker potentially smoking.
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Two Raiders rookies and a veteran will be sidelined to begin camp.
Danny Woodhead back from scare, feels 'great' | SanDiegoUnionTribune.com
The Chargers running back will be a full participant when camp opens this week.
POLL: Is Mike McCoy on the "hot seat"? - Bolts From The Blue
The San Diego Chargers Head Coach likely won't have much time to prove himself valuable of a contract extension this season, but he has a lot going in his favor.
Biggest injury question mark on all 32 NFL teams - Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt, Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo
J.J. Watt just had his second surgery of the offseason, while Tony Romo broke his collarbone twice in 2015. NFL Nation goes team by team, detailing the injured players to watch in training camp.
10 NFL storylines to watch: Football in L.A., Tom Brady sidelined and more - Chicago Tribune
Some of the league's most recognizable and successful players have retired. Who will step up to fill their shoes?
New NFL policy could strip teams of draft picks for violating concussion protocol | FOX Sports
Roger Goodell is cracking down on the enforcement of the league's concussion protocol.
NFL reinstates Josh Gordon of Cleveland Browns from indefinite suspension on conditional basis
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon has been reinstated on a conditional basis from his indefinite suspension for multiple drug violations.
Camp cuts? Twenty-five notable names on the bubble - NFL.com
As we head into training camp, Gregg Rosenthal spotlights 25 players whose football futures could be on the line over the next month -- including Victor Cruz, C.J. Spiller and Dee Milliner.
Sony is adding NFL Network and RedZone channels to PlayStation Vue | The Verge
Sony's streaming TV service just became a lot more attractive with the addition of NFL Network and NFL RedZone channels, both of which will arrive on PlayStation Vue in time for the 2016 season.
What Verizon Purchase Of Yahoo Means For NFL Content And Fantasy Sports - Forbes
Verizon's purchase of Yahoo for $4.8 billion will give Verizon an opportunity to dominate the market in NFL livestreaming and fantasy sports.
NFL's 1st Female Official Felt Pressure _ After the Season - The New York Times
Sarah Thomas was never hit by the pressure of being the first woman to be a full-time NFL game official until after her first season on the job.
Darnell Dockett To Retire As A Cardinal
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Greg Jennings announces retirement from NFL after 10 seasons
Veteran wide receiver Greg Jennings announced his retirement from the NFL via a YouTube video. Jennings was drafted by the Green Bay Packers and later played with the Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings.
Retired RT Anthony Davis applies for reinstatement - NFL.com
After spending the 2015 season at home in retirement, Anthony Davis wants another shot. The veteran right tackle tweeted that he submitted his reinstatement letter to the NFL Monday.
Jaguars GM: No Greg Hardy signing imminent - NFL.com
Greg Hardy could be headed back to the league. Jaguars DM Dave Caldwell said the team will not sign the free-agent pass rusher in the imminent future despite hosting Hardy for a workout last week.
Derrick Morgan of Tennessee Titans -- On NFL to study medical cannabis
The Titans' Derrick Morgan, now the lone active player to support medical marijuana as an alternative to painkillers, says it's incumbent upon the NFL to study it as an option for players.