Each year multiple players on each NFL roster head into Training Camp with their roster hopes up in the air. They’re on the “roster bubble” and likely have multiple hungry players behind them eager to take their job away from them. So let’s take a look at which five Denver Broncos players will be fighting for their roster lives once Training Camp opens up.
1: Wide receiver, Carlos Henderson
Many, including myself, had high hopes for the Broncos 2017 third-round pick heading into last season. They needed a third receiver to step up and the electrifying rookie seemed to fit the bill. However, that never happened.
Henderson struggled through minicamp practices as well as the early part of Training Camp last season. He flashed here and there but it later came out that the rookie came to camp, not in football shape. His disastrous rookie year continued during the first week of the preseason when he muffed two kick off returns before injuring his thumb during that game as well. Ultimately that injury ended up costing him his rookie year as he was placed on the season-ending injured reserve with a thumb injury. His struggles didn’t end there as he was arrested this past January on a marijuana charge.
Vance Joseph on Carlos Henderson, "He’s got to get back on the field if he wants to make this football team." #Broncos https://t.co/wJ9hEt8ocl— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) June 15, 2018
After having a rough rookie year, Henderson was looking for a bounce back 2018 season but injuries appear to have derailed that mission a bit. He suffered a hamstring injury during phase two of the Broncos offseason practices and that sidelined him throughout the entirety of OTA’s and minicamp. This prompted Head Coach Vance Joseph to challenge his young wide receiver to get on the field if he wants to make the team.
“He’s got a hamstring,” Joseph said. “It started in Phase 2 and hasn’t gotten better. He’s got to get back on the field if he wants to make this football team.” He went on to add, “You can’t make the football team on the sideline, so those guys have got to get back on the field, especially in that room. It’s a competitive room and it’s a full room. If you’re not practicing, your chances of making the team are slim to none.”
Joseph is right here, you cannot make the team if you’re not on the practice field. It is simple as that. Add that with his multiple on and off the field struggles his rookie year along with the additions of rookie receivers Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton and Henderson is indeed on thin ice.
If Henderson’s injury issues continue and/or his conditioning is a problem once again, Henderson can find himself off the Broncos roster in 2018. His status will be one of the more intriguing storylines to watch during camp.
2. Wide receiver, Jordan Taylor
It has already been reported that wide receiver Jordan Taylor will start Training Camp on the PUP list. He can be activated off it whenever he is able to pass his physical. It is unclear how long he is expected to be sidelined, but the longer he goes, the lower his odds of making the roster are.
Vance Joseph just said Jordan Taylor probably will start training camp on PUP. Not a surprise. #9sports— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) June 14, 2018
Taylor had surgery on both of his hips this offseason to repair a torn labrum in his right hip and to repair an ailment in his left hip as well. This obviously has sidelined him throughout the entire offseason and into a portion of Camp as well.
This puts Taylor on the bubble for two reasons.
1. The Broncos need to see what type of player Taylor if after this surgery. Did he lose any speed? His is agility the same? If the answer is yes to either of those two questions, he may be out of a job.
2. How long will he be sidelined? The Broncos have drafted four wide receivers the past two years and if Henderson/McKenzie bounce back with Sutton and Hamilton already in the mix, Taylor’s role could be taken. So the quicker he gets back on the field and shows that he is healthy the better it will be for him.
Taylor has proven to be a sure-handed big target for the Broncos targets the past few years, and if healthy, he could do just that for quarterback, Case Keenum.
3. Tackle/Guard, Menelik Watson
General Manager John Elway hasn’t made a ton of mistakes in free agency during his tenure, but Watson is one of the few.
The oft-injured tackle joined the Broncos last season and unsurprisingly struggled with injuries as well as being ineffective on the field. Now, the Broncos are moving the veteran from tackle to guard which usually means the player already has one foot out the door.
Watson will compete with Connor McGovern for the starting right guard this spot during camp but it appears it is McGovern’s job to lose at this point. If he loses out on that job he will be in the running to be the Broncos swing tackle behind starters Garett Bolles and Jared Veldheer.
4. Cornerback, Tramaine Brock
After the Broncos traded away veteran cornerback Aqib Talib this past offseason they went ahead and signed veteran corner Tramaine Brock to a one-year deal. Brock is penciled in as the Broncos third corner right now, but things can change during camp and the preseason.
I believe the Broncos signed the veteran Brock as insurance if 2017 third-round pick Brendan Langley and 2018 third-round pick Isaac Yiadom do not step up. If either one or both step up, that could make Brock expendable and allow the Broncos two corners get valuable playing time behind starters Chris Harris Jr. and Bradley Roby.
All Brock really needs to do is go out and do his job on a consistent level to keep a job in my opinion. However, any struggles combined with Yiadom/Langley stepping up could result in the Broncos parting ways with the veteran cornerback.
5. Punt returner, Isaiah McKenzie
The hype for McKenzie was real pre-camp in 2017. You had the Tyreek Hill comparisons floating around as well as a Special Teams coach hyping up the electrifying receiver. McKenzie did live up to that hype a bit throughout the summer by having himself a strong summer and preseason. He carried that momentum into the early parts of the regular season but unfortunately, it all fell off the rails.
Tom McMahon says the smaller kick returners will be back in the mix to return kicks with the rules change. Specifically points to Isaiah McKenzie— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensBSN) June 13, 2018
McKenzie struggled with fumbling issues as well as confidence issues as the season went on. He totaled 6 fumbles in 2017 and averaged just 8.7 yards per punt return. Not great numbers for the Broncos 2017 fifth-round selection. This play put him in Vance Joseph’s doghouse and ultimately had him as a game-day inactive as the season concluded.
Now the explosive returner hopes to have a bounce back 2018 and distance himself from his rookie-year struggles. I still do have concerns about McKenzie’s ball security issues going forward but hopefully, he can correct those.
He does face some competition for his role this summer but a consistent and mostly error-free showing this summer should get the Broncos explosive returner a second chance in orange and blue.
Which player do you think is most likely not to make the team in 2018
This poll is closed
WR Carlos Henderson
WR Jordan Taylor
OT/G Menelik Watson
CB Tramaine Brock
PR Isaiah McKenzie