“Go home”, shouted head coach John Fox to his players — cancelling the team’s final walk-through in the process — as the Denver Broncos‘ training camp came to an end. It was surely music to the ears of veteran players such as Champ Bailey and Peyton Manning.
There aren’t many changes for the team at this point aside from little things like being able to sleep in their own beds, which can be a huge thing for veterans.
“It has been a physical camp,” said Manning via the Denver Post. “We are in full pads just about every day, which certainly can take a toll physically on players, but guys have pushed and worked through that. It’s the only way to really get a real idea of what kind of team you are going to have and how guys hold up in full contact.”
Many would call the camp a success for the Broncos, although there were some injury problems they will have to deal with once the season starts, particularly on the offensive line.
How can the Broncos brass not be stoked about the developments of some young players? Safety Duke Ihenacho has all but secured a starting job, and undrafted rookie running back C.J Anderson will probably be a part of the rotation once he returns from a knee injury.
Manning has developed a chemistry with new receiver Wes Welker, and this just makes the already-potent offense that much more dangerous. Seriously now, as a defensive coordinator, who in the world do you double-team out of Welker, Demaryius Thomas (who proclaims he has had the best camp of his career) and Eric Decker?
Manning has also improved the strength in his throwing arm, which makes him and the team that much better. It is pretty safe to say that Manning has fully recovered from his four neck surgeries.
The Broncos secondary was another bright spot in camp. They were so good that Vice-President of Football Operations John Elway claimed that the secondary was the teams deepest position. High praise indeed.
Backup and third-string quarterbacks Brock Osweiler and Zac Dysert have performed very well, giving Denver hope if the unthinkable happens and Manning goes down with an injury.
As in many team’s camps, injuries have taken somewhat of a toll, mainly to the offensive line. Left tackle Ryan Clady just started participating in team practices this week, and has a ways to go before being ready for the opener.
Center was the position hit most with Dan Koppen (who was already filling in for incumbent J.D Walton) going down, forcing the Broncos to shift guard Manny Ramirez to center and signing Ryan Lilja out of retirement. Even veteran guard Kris Kuper has taken snaps under center, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Anderson’s knee injury may have been the worst moment in camp. Although he wasn’t supposed to be a factor in the Broncos’ offense, Anderson was well on his way to becoming part of the Broncos’ running back rotation.
Von Miller. Pro-Bowl linebacker. Pass-rush machine. Law breaker. Well, maybe not. Miller is awaiting his appeal hearing for violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. Reports state that Miller has not tested positive for any recreational drug, but has in some fashion violated one or more of the policies involved with the program.
Miller declares he is innocent, and he may be right, but his recent arrest for failing to appear in court for a traffic violation certainly does not help his cause. We will know the truth soon enough.
Quote of the camp
“He’s got everyone calling me Taylor Hicks,” center Ryan Lilja told the Denver Post’s Terry Frei about Manning in reference to his uncanny resemblance to the former American Idol winner. Always good when players can walk in the door day one and be a part of the camaraderie.
Toss-up between Ihenacho and Anderson. Either way, the Broncos have two more undrafted players to add to team lore.
Montee Ball. He has a lot on his plate having to learn the nuances of a Manning-run offense, but he has not come close to separating himself from the other backs. Fortunately, he still has lots of time to prove otherwise.