Coming to save the summer: Denver Broncos training camp
Here we are, in the midst of a firecrackerless July. The Colorado Rockies suck, the ESPYs have come and gone, and Dream Team XXIV (or thereabouts) is still in the formative stages.
What, other than the occasional trip to Suplizio Field to legally drink beer or wine while watching the cute GJ Rockies Rookie League team, can possibly bring us out of this funk?
Right on, Broncobreath! Training camp is just around the corner, with the World Premier set for Thursday, July 26, at the team’s facility in Englewood.
A couple of dates to circle might include a public viewing at New Mile High on Saturday, Aug. 4, a full practice session starting at 3:30 p.m. You should also know the preseason opener will include a Jay Cutler-Brandon Marshall reunion in Chicago on Aug. 9, and the first preseason game in Denver against Seattle on Aug. 18.
A few other tidbits to stash away:
The guy listed at No. 1 on Denver’s depth chart at quarterback and No. 4 on Ron Jaworski’s list of top 30 QBs in the NFL, one Peyton Manning, just purchased a home in a cute little subdivision in south Denver for $4.5 million. That’s a good sign to me.
Tim Tebow, the guy who was No. 1 on the Bronco depth chart at QB at the conclusion of last season, is now listed as No. 2 on the New York Jets depth chart (and No. 30 on Jaworski’s list). That, combined with the aforementioned Manning info is another good sign, no matter what local diehards Sherry Clingman and Marge Gleason think.
Now to the dark side: The guy who has been and should be No. 1 on the team’s depth chart at an outside linebacker spot has been suspended for six games for drug-testing violations. And now, D.J. Williams, to improperly mix metaphors, has added urine to the fire because he reportedly submitted a sample to the league that was not his. Matter of fact, said sample wasn’t even human (ain’t pets grand?).
The suspension, the resulting botchery of the testing combined with Williams filing a lawsuit against the league are signs pointing to the fact the Broncos will be looking for another starting linebacker, perhaps one that will show signs of intelligent life on earth.
Good, bad, indifferent, it’s still football.
No matter your take on the Manning free-agent signing, easily the top NFL story of the offseason, and the resulting gifting of Tim Tebow to the Jets, this coming season should keep Bronco fans focused.
All eyes early, of course, will be on Manning. We will all become experts on spirals and his ability to throw them long and accurately as he recuperates from neck surgeries that cost him last season. And we will all be watching as he tries to come to terms in a relatively short time frame with a new offensive system and new teammates.
We must also pay attention to some other niggling details on the offensive side:
Will the Broncos use two new, talented tight ends, Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme, most of the time, part of the time, all the time?
With Manning at the controls, what will become of Willis McGahee and his blasts up the middle? Can Manning and his no-huddle, pass-heavy offense coexist with 25 to 30 rushes per game?
And while we’re at it, let’s get to the crux of the matter: Can the Broncos young offensive line keep Manning upright and healthy?
If Manning does indeed play all season, you can make book the team will improve on its 19-point-per-game average. Manning-led teams average closer to 30 points per game than 20.
Denver’s defense, inconsistent at best last season, has a bundle of standouts, but a bigger bundle of questions.
There are surefire stars in Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller, who rush from the outside as well as any tandem in the league. There is Champ Bailey at one corner, still one of the best after 14 years.
There are others who played plenty last season, such as linebackers Joe Mays and Wesley Woodyard and defensive end Robert Ayers.
But then come the question marks, lots of them.
Will Justin Bannon, Ty Warren, Kevin Vickerson and rookie Derek Wolfe fill the huge gaps in the middle?
Will former Central standout Ben Garland be in the mix?
Who plays safety? Free agent veteran Mike Adams? Second-year players Quinton Carter or Rahim Moore?
Will free-agent corners Drayton Florence and Tracy Porter help defend against the four- and five-receiver sets the Broncos could not defend last season?
Yes, plenty to keep tabs on, plenty of questions to be answered.
But all good Bronco fans should be up to the task. Ready, set, focus!