The Denver Broncos are approaching the three week mark at training camp. Here are some random thoughts thus far.
Quarterback Peyton Manning looks much healthier and stronger than he did a year ago. All of the receivers have commented on how much more “zip” Manning’s passes have compared to last season. This bodes well for the Broncos.
Nobody has really stepped up to be the starting running back. Montee Ball has been okay, and Ronnie Hillman is too small to be the every down back although he is listed as the starter. C.J Anderson has been the best back in camp but was at the bottom of the depth chart coming in. Maybe the Broncos surprise us by naming Anderson the starter over Hillman and Ball, but probably not.
DE Shaun Phillips is starting to adapt to a new defense after playing nine years with the San Diego Chargers. Philips seems to have burst rushing the passer as a stand-up linebacker or an end. Look for defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio to capitalize on Phillips’ flexibility.
It has taken some time, but WR Wes Welker is starting to develop some good chemistry with Manning as they are hooking up for some big gains in practice. Now lets see if it can translate to games.
QB Zac Dysert has come on very strong in the last week, so much so, he is a good bet to make the 53-man roster. Denver would love to stash him on the practice squad. But he would need to clear waivers first, something that is highly unlikely. In my weekly Barry Horowitz pat myself on the back imitation, I had Dysert as one of the top-ranked quarterbacks going into the draft over Ryan Nassib, Matt Barkley, Tyler Wilson and Mike Glennon, all whom were drafted ahead of Dysert.
Free agent defensive tackle Terrance Knighton has struggled recently prompting the Broncos to give first-round pick Sylvester Williams some snaps with the ones. Williams will be a starter by year’s end.
The competition at safety has heated up. Duke Ihenacho who spent last season on the practice squad has played himself into a starting role in place of Mike Adams who started last season. Look for Denver to open the season with Ihenacho and Rahim Moore as their starting safeties.
Stewart Bradley has come on lately and has replaced Nate Irving as Denver’s starting middle linebacker, for now. Bradley was out of sorts while playing in a 3-4 system in Arizona and is much more productive and comfortable in a 4-3. This provides Denver with great depth.
Kris Kuper returned to practice after restructuring his contract, and if he can regain his form he would provide Denver with fantastic depth on the offensive line. Kuper, who played some center in college, took some snaps with Manning in a side drill. Look for Kuper to back up at guard and center for the Broncos, with an outside shot of starting at center. A healthy Kuper is a better option than Manny Ramirez and Ryan Lilja at center.