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Which Broncos are sweating the first cut down?

With days until Paton has to trim the roster to 85, these bubble battles bear monitoring.

It seems like only yesterday the Broncos opened training camp, but next week starts joint practices with the Minnesota Vikings before the first preseason game Aug. 14. Three days after that George Paton will need to cut five players before 2 p.m. MST.

Life comes at you fast in the NFL.

While the ongoing quarterback battle between Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater sucks most of the oxygen out of the room, it’s time to dig into the position battles around the back end of the roster. Who’s at risk of departing before we even got to know them?

A quick note: All the players below are per the Broncos’ main site.

Specialist - 3

LS Jacob Bobenmoyer, PK Brandon McManus, P Sam Martin

  • Barring some sort of addition in the coming days and weeks ahead, we already know who the Broncos long snapper, kicker, and punter are, so there won’t be a cut Aug. 17.

Defensive back - 20

Kyle Fuller, Ronald Darby, Patrick Surtain II, Bryce Callahan, Michael Ojemudia, Kareem Jackson, Justin Simmons, Kary Vincent, Caden Sterns, Jamar Johnson, Nate Hairston, Mac McCain III, Parnell Motley, Saivion Smith, Rojesterman Farris, P.J. Locke III, Trey Marshall, Tedric Thompson, Duke Dawson, Essang Bassey

  • When I spoke with the Denver Post’s Ryan O’Halloran, he mentioned that the Broncos’ coaching staff is making a concentrated effort to ensure Fuller, Darby, and Callahan are good to go for Week 1.
  • With Jackson receiving veteran rest days here and there, the Broncos seem to be giving first team snaps to Locke and Marshall.
  • The way Fangio has spoken about Sterns suggests it’s only a matter of time before he’s carving out a notable role behind the starting duo.
  • Both Dawson and Bassey are currently on the Broncos’ Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List. They both tore ACLs late last season.
  • McCain is missing time because of a hamstring injury.
  • Motley has been a punching bag for Lock and Bridgewater.
  • Vincent and Johnson missed time because they were on the Covid-19 list. Johnson was out longer, seemingly because the NFL’s policy for unvaccinated players. He had his first practice Friday.
  • Faris, Thompson and Smith were late additions to the DB room.

Linebacker - 6

Alexander Johnson, Josey Jewell, Justin Strnad, Baron Browning, Josh Watson, Curtis Robinson

  • Browning is currently on the Broncos’ Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list because of an injury suffered during OTAs. It remains unclear what the issue is because the Broncos aren’t divulging much in the way of details.
  • If Browning doesn’t land on Injured Reserve or start the regular season on the PUP, I expect the Broncos to carry five linebackers, which means the competition between Watson and Robinson is worth following.
  • Jewell hasn’t practiced since July 31st. On August second Fangio said we should expect him to miss “at least 10 days.”
  • If the defense is going to utilize dime more it’s worth paying attention to who gets those snaps. When I spoke with O’Halloran, he said Strnad was eating into Johnson’s time and that Jewell probably will as well. I crosschecked this with Mile High Sports’ Nick Manning on Friday, and it does appear Strnad is receiving dime snaps over Johnson.

Edge - 8

Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, Malik Reed, Derrek Tuszka, Pita Taumoepenu, Peter Kalambayi, Andre Mintze, Jonathan Cooper

  • The coaching staff is taking a conservative approach to managing Miller’s return to action, so I wouldn’t expect him to play much in the preseason.
  • On the second Fangio said he’s “hopeful” Chubb can have a full workload for the season opener against the Giants.
  • Questions about Miller and Chubb may lead to a fifth edge rusher making the roster.
  • O’Halloran mentioned the current battle for ED4 could lead to a veteran signing once teams begin to make cuts.

Defensive Line - 10

Shelby Harris, Dre’Mont Jones, Mike Purcell, McTelvin Agim, DeShawn Williams, Shamar Stephen, Marquiss Spencer, Jonathan Harris, Isaiah Mack, Deyon Sizer

  • Purcell hasn’t practiced since July 30 because of an ankle injury.
  • According to the O’Halloran, Purcell’s injury has led to first team reps with the base personnel for Agim and Williams.
  • Agim has become one of the stories of camp this week, which is welcome news.
  • To the best of my knowledge, Sizer hasn’t practiced since Aug. 3 because of a hamstring issue.
  • I’ve heard very little about Stephen, Jonathan Harris, and Mack to this point.

Wide Receivers - 13

Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler, Tim Patrick, Tyrie Cleveland, Kendall Hinton, Diontae Spencer, Trinity Benson, DeVontres Dukes, Warren Jackson, Branden Mack, De’Mornay Pierson-El, Seth Williams

Offensive Line - 14

Garett Bolles, Dalton Risner, Lloyd Cushenberry, Graham Glasgow, Bobby Massie, Cameron Fleming, Quinn Meinerz, Netane Muti, Calvin Anderson, Brett Jones, Nolan Laufenberg, Austin Schlottmann, Quinn Bailey, Drew Himmelman

  • We’ve reached a point where it looks like the RT1 job is Massie’s to lose.
  • Anderson has been rotating in at both tackle spots.
  • There’s been no sign of a competition for the center job. Part of this may be due to the quarterback battle, part of it’s Meinerz adjustment to the pro game, and part of it is Cushenberry’s own improvement from 2020.
  • Multiple reports suggest Fleming could wind up as a million dollar dead cap hit before we get to the regular season. When I spoke with O’Halloran, he mentioned how Anderson looks like the favorite for RT2 and swing duties behind Bolles.
  • Muti’s gotten a run with the first team when Glasgow gets veteran days off and the coaching staff is looking for a “big jump” from him.

Tight Ends / Fullbacks - 7

Noah Fant, Albert Okwuegbunam, Andrew Beck, Shaun Beyer, Eric Saubert, Austin Fort, Adam Prentice (FB)

  • Multiple reports suggest Saubert is running away with the TE3 job at the moment.
  • When I spoke with O’Halloran on Cover2Broncos he mentioned how Beck’s value to special teams probably gives him a leg up for the fourth spot on the depth chart.
  • Prentice has made some highlight reel blocks out of camp this past week. If he can keep it up, he could make things interesting when the Broncos close in on final cuts.

Running backs - 6

Melvin Gordon, Javonte Williams, Mike Boone, Royce Freeman, LeVante Bellamy, Damarea Crockett

  • If health luck persists, I expect three backs to make the Broncos’ final roster: Gordon, Williams, and Boone.
  • Multiple reports suggest the Broncos want to deal Royce Freeman before final cutdowns, which probably protects him until then. Look for him to get an extended run in the preseason in an effort to showcase his skillset and potentially attract a suitor.
  • O’Halloran mentioned Bellamy looks like the RB4 if Freeman is moved.

Quarterbacks - 3

Drew Lock, Teddy Bridgewater, Brett Rypien

  • Barring a late addition to the room, the Broncos will roll into the regular season with Lock and Bridgewater. Rypien could find himself on the practice squad before the regular season begins, but he’s safe until then.

Your Broncos’ News

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Manning to the HOF: The time we thought No. 18 played his last game as a Bronco - Mile High Report

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Manning to the HOF: No. 18’s last game wasn’t his best football, but it was our best outcome - Mile High Report

Recalling Super Bowl 50...and all it took for Manning to get there.

Steve Atwater in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: The definition of a Broncos Hall of Famer - Mile High Report

The Smilin’ Assassin is one of the best to ever strap on pads and a helmet.

Steve Atwater in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: He made his biggest plays in the biggest moments - Mile High Report

From an interception to spark the Drive II, to a strip sack in the Super Bowl, Atwater made big plays in big moments.

Pro Football Hall of Fame: Three former Broncos don their gold jackets

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How McTelvin Agim could change the Broncos defense in 2021 and beyond |

If Agim looks ready to start by then, the Broncos could decide that it is in their best interest to save their money and let Jones test the market in free agency. At worst, the Broncos would have great leverage in negotiations concerning a Jones contract extension.

Stories behind ascension of Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning - Los Angeles Times

Here are some behind-the-scenes stories of the ascension of Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning told by his high school friends who know him best.

NFL News

Report: Justin Jefferson has sprained AC joint - ProFootballTalk

Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson was diagnosed with a sprained AC joint, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports. It is a sigh of relief for the team and for Jefferson. Jefferson left Friday’s practice early after landing hard on his left shoulder as Bashaud Breeland, who was in coverage on Jefferson, landed on top of Jefferson.

Vikings WR Justin Jefferson suffers AC joint sprain in practice

Jefferson, a second-year pro, suffered a sprained AC joint, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. Rapoport reported Friday night that Jefferson underwent testing that “came out as good as possible” and is considered day-to-day.

Hospital in Kirk Cousins’ hometown ends relationship with him over anti-vaccine stance - ProFootballTalk

“While we acknowledge that each person is entitled to their own viewpoints, those who speak on our behalf must support messages that align with the hospital’s position on matters of vital importance to individual and community health,” the hospital said in a statement, via WHTC. “For this reason, Holland Hospital will discontinue using Kirk Cousins as our spokesperson for now. We are proud of our association with Kirk. He embodies many values we respect and share as part of our work culture.

2022 NFL draft: LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. could be CB1 next year

Stingley has the chops to bounce back from a tough 2020 and be a top-10 pick next spring.

Raiders’ Carl Nassib praises teammates for their support | Las Vegas Review-Journal

“It was definitely stressful, growing up being in the closest and doing all that. It’s very stressful for anybody. I can speak from experience,” Nassib said.

Houston Texans’ Jonathan Owens ‘sick’ over girlfriend Simone Biles’ saga

Texans safety Jonathan Owens watched the struggles of his girlfriend, Simone Biles, and was proud when she overcame.

Aaron Rodgers on Simone Biles, ‘The Office,’ and His Press Conference Easter Eggs - The Ringer

“I give Simone so much credit for her ability to speak the truth, her truth, and to answer tough questions, and to have the courage to say, ‘I’m scared’ and ‘I don’t feel like I should be out there,’” Rodgers said. “She’s the greatest gymnast of all time. And mental health [awareness] is an issue that is continuing to break down the stigmas that don’t allow us to talk about it or only allow us to talk about it in a super negative, depressive, suicidal way. People of all ages and all professions are dealing with mental issues, especially during COVID. You’ve seen the suicide hotline [calls] going way up. We’ve seen so many different statistics around mental health.

Josh Allen, Bills agree to six-year extension worth $258M

The total value of the deal is $258 million, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, who reported on Inside Training Camp Live that it will average $43 million per year, with more than 50% of the money guaranteed. Allen receives $150 million in total guarantees and $100 million fully guaranteed upon signing, which are each the highest in NFL history.

49ers HC Kyle Shanahan: Trey Lance is ‘going to play for us this year’

“Trey’s going to play for us this year. I know you guys are all running to Twitter on that,” said coach Kyle Shanahan. “Situationally, he’s going to get plays. That doesn’t mean that he’s going to be the starter or anything, but he’s going to get plays and you’ve got to prepare him for that every way possible.”

The Colts Have Very Little Wiggle Room to Solve Their QB Conundrum - The Ringer

If you’re going to build a team in the NFL, you’d better do it fast. General managers typically have more job stability than head coaches, but not by much, and that balance of power is shifting as coaches become more involved in personnel decisions. Over half of the league’s teams have changed GMs in the past five offseasons.