Five days of Denver Broncos Training Camp is now in the books. We are starting to get an idea of how these position battles may play out, which under the radar players are stepping up, and which players are off to a slow start. It is still very early into the process, but we have an idea how everything may play out in the coming days and weeks.
So now with the Broncos having today off it gives us a chance to take a look at the three things we have learned after five days of Denver Broncos Training Camp.
1. This quarterback battle won't be decided until late into the Preseason
The biggest battle going at camp is who will be the starting quarterback for the week one matchup against the Carolina Panthers. Most assume veteran Mark Sanchez would be the guy, but there was some hype/craziness about Trevor Siemian pushing Sanchez, and first-round rookie quarterback Paxton Lynch would need to sit to develop.
After five days we really do not have any answers at this position just yet. I think the Denver Posts Cameron Wolfe summed it perfectly.
Sanchez — After a good performance Sunday, the veteran struggled a bit Monday. He threw a 102-yard pick-six to cornerback Lorenzo Doss and also went 0-for-4 in a red zone series during 7-on-7 drills. Sanchez did complete a good deep ball to Emmanuel Sanders for a touchdown.
Siemian — For most of camp, Siemian has been like a baseball player hitting a bunch of singles. Monday, he notched a double. He connected with tight end Garrett Graham and Sanders on several well-placed touchdown passes.
Lynch — The rookie from Memphis has put together two solid days in a row. His deep ball looked pure again, and he also found Graham for multiple touchdowns. After practice, coach Gary Kubiak said Lynch has "really, really stepped up."
All the reports from camp and everything I have been told be people who have attended camp have pointed to this. Sanchez might be the best option, but those awful mistakes will happen. Siemian plays it safe(a singles hitter) but really hasn't done much to create any separation between himself and Sanchez. The rookie Paxton Lynch is showing why the Broncos traded up to select him in the first round.
So basically we're in the same spot we were a week ago.
With Sanchez having his ups, downs, and awful moments, and Siemian not really doing enough to win the job and also having his ups and downs it is leaving the door open for Paxton Lynch. He is showing growth and progression and earned high praise from Gary Kubiak on Monday.
Kubiak had a lot of praise for Lynch after practice. Talked about the strides he's making from day to day.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) August 1, 2016
If Sanchez or Siemian doesn't start taking the lead in the quarterback battle, the rookie might enter the conversation here in a week or so.
Lynch has been working with the third team taking almost double the amount of reps than the other two in hopes of progressing him along quickly. If he continues this type of play it is only a matter of time until we see him take a series or two with the first or second team.
Ultimately, I do not think this quarterback battle will be decided until just before or after the Broncos third preseason game. How each quarterback performs in the two preseason games leading up to the third one might be the deciding factor in this battle.
2. The wide receiver position is deep and there will be some tough cuts coming
Heading into camp, Head Coach Gary Kubiak said that the wide receiver group might be one of the strengths of the Broncos in 2016.
"I think our receiver group might be as good as I’ve been around for as long as I’ve been going to camp, potentially. We’re going to see what happens. It’s going to be very competitive from that standpoint. We know who our one and our two is. I think we all understand that, but it will be very competitive, special teams will have a lot to do with it. I think last year at the end of camp we were a six wide receiver team. We could very well be that way again, with the players we have. They are all very good special teams players."
So far, the receiving group has lived up to the hype.
Starters Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders have been their usual dominant selves since camp has opened, but the real battle in after these two.
Receivers Cody Latimer, Bennie Fowler, Jordan Taylor, Marlon Brown, Kalif Raymond, Jordan Norwood, Bralon Addison, Duron Neal, Mose Fraizer, and Durron Neal are fighting for three or four roster spots, and potentially a spot or two on the Practice Squad.
So far, all of these guys have flashed at times.
Jordan Taylor had his highlight reel one-handed catch during camp, Bennie Fowler might be the most consistent receiver of the bunch and Cody Latimer continues to show off his athleticism during camp. I think all three of these guys make the roster, but their spot on the depth chart is yet to be determined.
Kalif Raymond, Bralon Addison, and veteran Jordan Norwood are fighting for that final kick return job. Right now, the explosive Kalif Raymond has the most buzz of this three, but this battle will probably be won during the preseason.
Durron Neal and Mose Fraizer aren't making the roster but could find themselves on the Practice Squad depending how they play during the preseason.
This position is very deep, very young, and very competitive. I'm excited to see these guys battle it out during the preseason.
3. Running back battle will be intense
The Broncos are five deep at running back, and all five have a good shot to make the team but the Broncos are likely only keeping three or four of these guys. So that makes this position battle one of the most intense ones at camp.
C.J. Anderson is locked in as your starter, but after C.J there is a battle for #2, #3, and possibly #4 running back jobs.
Rookie Devontae Booker seems to be the leader in the race for the #2 job right now. He was a potential late first round talent in the draft but fell to the fourth round because of an injury. Now Booker is fully healthy and figures to be a solid contributor to the offense this year.
Kubiak recently praised Booker and said that he was doing a "good job".
"I would say the same thing about Devontae. Obviously he’s very talented. He’s to the point physically where he can practice full time, but I think you can see that his football condition is not quite what C.J.’s is. He wears a little bit in practice. That’s understandable. He’s got a lot of football on his plate. He’s trying to go out there and compete. I think he’s doing a good job."
As Kubiak said, Booker is still working back from surgery so while he's healthy, he isn't where he should be just yet, but still has been producing.
Devontae Booker can catch the football man. Just snagged a Lynch bullet out of the air on an out route.#BroncosCamp— Ryan Greene (@RGreene5280) August 1, 2016
After Booker, last season's leading rusher Ronnie Hillman, Kapri Bibbs, and Juwan Thompson are fighting for that final one or two.
Right now it seems like Bibbs is the leader in that group follow by the versatile Thompson, and then Ronnie Hillman. To make matters even worse for Hillman, linebacker Zaire Anderson leveled him on Sunday and Hillman missed half on Sunday's practice and all of Monday's practice with a back injury.
Right now I would say Hillman would be the odd man out, but four preseason game and unfortunately an injury or two will sort this battle out.
Tight end: We haven't heard much about this positional group so there are many more questions than answers right now
Offensive line/Defensive line: I want to see these two units during the preseason. Lots of changes and youth along both of these lines. I think we'll get many more answers then.
Rookie safeties: Another group of players I want to see on the field during the preseason. Not a lot has been written about Justin Simmons and Will Parks as of yet.
Inside linebacker: I was going to go in more detail about this position, but decided to keep it short and sweet. It really looks like Todd Davis will be the starting inside linebacker opposite of Brandon Marshall.