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7 players to watch at Broncos’ minicamp

There are a lot more than seven, but these are some of the most intriguing as Broncos finish minicamp today and get ready for Training Camp next month.

Broncos to watch

Here are some players looking to make some waves this week before the team goes on break.

Posted by Mile High Report: A Denver Broncos Blog on Thursday, June 15, 2017

Good morning, Broncos Country!

Obviously there are way more than seven players, battles to pay attention to this week and into Training Camp as this Broncos team comes together under new coaches.

But seven is always a good number around here, and it’s also a manageable number to write about when only highlighting a few.

A quick review of day one and day two of minicamp are proof that “it’s still offseason” as Tuesday’s work saw the defense doing its elite thing but Wednesday’s show offered some big strides from the offense with touchdown drives by both quarterbacks in contention, better work by the line and some good runs by the backs.

“The offense had a great day,” Joseph said Wednesday. “They scored four touchdowns in the red zone. That’s our goal. Defensively, it’s tough because it’s not live bullets, but the routes, concepts and the throws were pretty good by the offense. That was fun to see.”

But without further ado (because who wants to wait on their “ado?”), let’s talk about our “seven-to-watch” list as Broncos head into their final day of minicamp before a long break to get to training camp.

Paxton Lynch

You knew this one was coming, right?

Given the “QB competition,” you can include Trevor Siemian on the watchlist, but since No. 13 is the de facto starter with No. 12 needing to take that job away, we’re mainly paying attention to whether Lynch has progressed enough to handle the full offense.

Coaches have praised Lynch’s ability to come back strong after a bad play as well as his decision-making for when to take a risk and when to check down. Watching this evolution will be of particular interest when the “competition” begins in earnest the end of July.

Carlos Henderson

Henderson sat out of Wednesday’s second minicamp workout to nurse a minor injury to his foot, but there has nevertheless been a lot of talk about this rookie wide receiver.

While chatter is often about his strength on special teams, the rookie out of Lousiana Tech could be competing for some game time this season at the wide receiver position.

Andrew Mason highlights why in his June 1 report after an OTA session:

Rookie wide receiver Carlos Henderson elicited "oohs" from his teammates after making a sharp change of direction that sent a defender sliding to the ground following a reception from Siemian. Henderson was running from right to left when he caught the ball, and then stopped and cut back to his right, leaving a sprawling defender and plenty of open field to proceed with the football.

So despite the crowd in that room, it’s always open to anyone with serious talent - something Pro Football Focus said Henderson had an abundance of.

Garett Bolles & the O-line

Although this is not a new band you may be tempted to buy tickets for, there’s new hope in Dove Valley that this is definitely a group worth using your season tickets to watch.

The offensive line is always a “to watch” unit, especially with its deficiencies the past few years. But it’s even more interesting this season as we watch free agent Ron Leary and especially first-round draft pick Garett Bolles both try to make this unit work.

The rookie has certainly had his ups and down thus far, but the trend is moving up and to the right - so that’s a good start.

“He’s made a lot of progress. It’s a tough spot to play as a rookie, and it takes a lot of football IQ to play that spot in the NFL,” Joseph said after the first minicamp workout. “When he knows what to do, he can block his guy. His talent shows. The ultimate issue is knowing what to do and how to do it, but he’s a first-round pick for a reason.”

Mason noted Wednesday that Bolles had “promising flashes,” including a move that helped spring Devontae Booker for a long gain on a handoff from Siemian.

Jeff Heuerman

In the nine days of OTAs plus two so far in minicamp, Heuerman has been highlighted in Andrew Mason’s reports seven different times - six of which were aggregated here - but one thing that stands out is the variety of plays for this third-year tight end.

Over the past three weeks, Heuerman has grabbed a number of 14-, 15- and 16-yard passes from both quarterbacks but has also scored on a 35-yarder from Lynch as well as a down-the-seam toss from Siemian that allowed the tight end to catch and run for the score.

For Heuerman, who has been plagued by injury since his much-anticipated arrival two years ago, consistent plays like this could get him the starting tight end role he’s been touted for.

Lorenzo Doss

If Doss’ name sounds familiar it’s because this time last year the cornerback was showing off impressive ball-hawking skills - and he seems to be doing again. Per Andrew Mason:

Lorenzo Doss joined them with a leaping, one-handed stab that was among the highlights of the practice.

A potential pick-six went through Doss’ hands on Tuesday, a rare miss for the third-year cornerback, but he bounced back Wednesday, notching an INT against Kyle Sloter (who is an undrafted rookie but still, there’s a trend here for Doss).

Chris Harris Jr. - of the original ‘No Fly Zone’ - has been noticing No. 37, who could find himself on the roster as the fourth cornerback to replace Kayvon Webster if he keeps playing to this level.

"Doss is just a ball hog. Doss is always around the ball,” Harris Jr. said. “He may get beat but he might still come out with a pick. It’s a win-lose with Doss.”

Sunshine and the Wide Receivers

It sounds like another band, doesn’t it? Well it’s not, but one of the talented WRs on the team may need a backup plan when he gets cut from this very talented roster because even if the Broncos keep six wide receivers, a tough decision looms.

Beyond Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders as the top two receivers and then Bennie Fowler as an established backup, the list gets crowded - fast. Special teams work could be the difference, and Jordan “Sunshine” Taylor is probably at a disadvantage there.

“Between Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler, plus those two young kids [Isaiah McKenzie, Carlos Henderson], that’s a full room,” Joseph said. “It’s going to be a tough decision in terms of who makes our football team, but that’s the way it should be.”

For example, this was the scene on Day Two of OTAs, per Mason:

Fifth-round pick Isaiah McKenzie accounted for the offense's longest gain of the day, using his 4.42 speed to sprint up the right sideline for a touchdown pass from Sloter,” Mason wrote. “Siemian and WR Cody Latimer collaborated on one of the best pass plays of the day, connecting on a deep post route during a seven-on-seven period.”

But don’t forget about Sunshine, who has been having an impressive OTA/minicamp performance so far.

“Jordan is a hard worker. He’s a big target, he’s got good hands and he works hard everyday,” Joseph said. “That’s a full room.”

Adam Gotsis

The Aussie sensation was highly touted last year after he was drafted despite the fact that the former Australian footballer hadn’t been playing football too long and was coming off a knee injury.

But a year to learn the ropes of the NFL and a year under the tutelage of Bill Kollar, Gotsis is well on his way to being a contributor.

“Physically, he is definitely a new player. He’s 300 pounds, probably 13 percent body fat, which is amazing. He is explosive and athletic,” Joseph noted recently about the transformation in Gotsis. “Now he has to get reps and play more. He’s a second-round pick for a reason. That’s what I saw on tape in college, this guy who we’re seeing now. I’m excited about him. He’s finally healthy and you can tell.”

Gotsis has been a force to be reckoned with during OTAs on more than one occasion, deflecting passes and preventing scores. It would seem that now he’s “got sis” [you can laugh].

Horse Tracks - docllv’s picks of the day

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Horse Tracks

Denver Broncos rookie Garett Bolles has earned time with starters
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Broncos QB Paxton Lynch ‘Confident In Where I Am’ « CBS Denver
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New England was able to hang on to its rising quarterback and offensive coordinator, while pushing to win now in Tom Brady's age-40 season. Where does its offseason rank among past champs?


What’s the most intriguing question heading into Training Camp?

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