Needa Pass Rush
08-25-2006, 07:45 PM
Needa Pass Rush
08-25-2006, 09:42 PM
<TABLE cellPadding=8 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD class=articleTitle>Cuts coming to Broncos</TD></TR><TR><TD class=articleSubTitle>Last two preseason games may decide race for some roster spots</TD></TR><TR><TD class=articleByline>By Bill Williamson
Denver Post Staff Writer
DenverPost.com</TD></TR><TR><TD height=10></TD></TR><TR><TD class=articleBody>
The Broncos' coaching staff will spend the next eight days making final tweaks to a roster that appears to be one of the deepest in the NFL and that was only one game from the Super Bowl last season.
There are few openings available and there could be a few surprise cuts, unlike recent years. The final pieces of the 53-man roster likely will come down to how many players Denver wants to keep at talent-heavy positions such as wide receiver, defensive back and running back.
"We like what we have," coach Mike Shanahan said as the Broncos prepare for their final two preseason games - Sunday against Houston at Invesco Field at Mile High and Thursday at Arizona. "There are always tough decisions, and the next two games will help us make those decisions."
The Broncos must trim 12 players from their 87-man roster by Tuesday, the league's first mandatory cut-down day. All NFL rosters must be cut to 53 players by Sept. 2.
"We think we have a very strong, deep team," Denver general manager Ted Sundquist said. "But those final cuts are always tough to determine." Strong secondary could get 10 spots on 53-man roster
Shanahan said early in training camp he would like to keep three quarterbacks on the roster, but that is a bit of a luxury in Denver, where the team has kept just two the past two seasons. Former Colorado State star Bradlee Van Pelt may be on the bubble with first-round pick Jay Cutler entrenched behind starter Jake Plummer.
If the Broncos want to keep an extra player at wide receiver or in the secondary, Van Pelt could be in danger. But if Plummer gets injured and an emergency backup is needed for Cutler, the Broncos could be in a pinch. If cut, Van Pelt could be picked up elsewhere, possibly by Houston or Oakland.
"We'll see what happens," Van Pelt said. "They've kept two quarterbacks before. It's up to me to make them keep three."
Five tailbacks - first-stringer Mike Bell and Tatum Bell, Ron Dayne, Cedric Cobbs and Damien Nash - may have done enough to make the team. But with Cecil Sapp and Kyle Johnson likely filling fullback roles, one or two tailbacks will have to go.
With a deep pool of wide receivers, it's unlikely the team will keep six running backs. Dayne, Cobbs and Nash may be playing for one spot. Dayne, who got a decent signing bonus to re-sign with Denver, has fallen from No. 1 at the start of training camp to being on the bubble. Out 12 days with turf toe, Dayne must play well in the final two preseason games.
Cobbs, who has played well in the preseason, appears to be the favorite to be the No. 3 back right now. Nash has been good, too, and is out of eligibility for the practice squad. Don't be surprised if Denver discusses trade possibilities for one of these backs with a team in need, such as Indianapolis or Miami.
A weak position for Denver in recent seasons has become a position of depth. Expect fourth- round pick Brandon Marshall to emerge as the Broncos' No. 3 receiver. Competitors for the final three spots include veterans David Kircus, Darius Watts, Todd Devoe, David Terrell and Charlie Adams, and undrafted rookie Brian Clark.
Kircus (also a kick returner), Watts and Devoe are the leading candidates for the final two spots. Terrell can make a late push if he finishes the preseason well. Clark, an intriguing player, could muddy the situation with a strong finish. This is another position where Denver could pursue trades because of a surplus of talent. Watch for former assistant and new Houston coach Gary Kubiak to consider wide receivers cut by the Broncos.
Another loaded position behind veteran starter Stephen Alexander and rookie standout Tony Scheffler.
Nate Jackson, a coaching staff favorite, has developed nicely and has great hands. Chad Mustard is a great blocker and a line-of-scrimmage player who can be valuable in the blocking game. He could fill the spot Dwayne Carswell once did. Mustard could have an edge because the Broncos are deep in receivers, but can always use the blocking. But Denver could find a way to keep both Mustard and Jackson.
Like at the quarterback position, the Broncos may cut to a small number because of depth elsewhere. Denver kept seven offensive linemen at times last season, but may want to keep eight considering its youthful influx. Rookie Chris Kuper and second-year pro Chris Myers are sure to be backups, but both may be starters of the future.
Sixth-round pick Greg Eslinger is on the bubble. The Broncos like him but they may not have room to keep him. Cars- well and Cornell Green are veterans who also may be caught in a numbers game. If veteran Adam Meadows, attempting a comeback after missing the past two seasons, makes the team, Carswell and Green may be looking for work elsewhere.
Denver probably will keep nine defensive linemen.
One surprise player who could find himself on the 53- man roster is undrafted rookie Antwon Burton. The Temple product has been a camp standout. If Burton makes the team, it could be tough for former Browns player Amon Gordon.
It will be interesting to see what happens at defensive end. With veteran Kenard Lang and fourth-rounder Elvis Dumervil, who also plays tackle, assured of spots, veteran Patrick Chukwurah, John Engelberger, Khaleed Vaughn and Corey Jackson are working for one spot. Don't be surprised if Chukwurah emerges. He has pass-rushing skills, can switch back to linebacker in a pinch and stands out on special teams.
There will likely be three backups here. The talented and versatile Nate Webster is a lock, and Louis Green has been outstanding as well. Undrafted rookie Cameron Vaughn has looked good, but special teams captain Keith Burns figures to take a spot.
There likely will be 10 defensive backs on this team. It's a good, young group. Watch for Denver to keep five cornerbacks and five safeties.
The emerging Curome Cox is able to play both spots and is a fine player. Denver is deep at safety. Veteran Sam Brandon can start and play well if there is an injury and Hamza Abdullah is a big hitter with a solid future. If the Broncos keep five cornerbacks, it could come down to Roc Alexander and Jeff Shoate.
Easy. Jason Elam is your place-kicker. Paul Ernster, unless he implodes Sunday, will be the punter and kickoff man while Todd Sauerbrun serves a four-game NFL suspension for violating the substance abuse policy. This leaves veteran Micah Knorr on the outside.
Mike Leach will be the long snapper and can also be an emergency tight end. If Ernster makes the team and has a good first four games, the Broncos could be in position to move on without Sauerbrun, but he is a major weapon and Ernster would have to be outstanding. Bubble trouble
The Denver Post's Bill Williamson projects several veteran players on the bubble to be cut by the Broncos in the next eight days:
Season with team: 13th
The prediction: A favorite of the Denver coaching staff, but there is a lot of young talent on the offensive line.
Season with team: Second
The prediction: 1999 Heisman Trophy winner probably safe, but Cedric Cobbs and Damien Nash have been impressive.
Season with team: Third
The prediction: If newcomer Adam Meadows makes the team, Green could be in trouble.
Season with team: Second
The prediction: Former first-round draft pick needs to make impression in Denver's next two preseason games.
Bradlee Van Pelt
Season with team: Third
The prediction: If there is a logjam elsewhere on their roster, Broncos may go with just two quarterbacks. Staff writer Bill Williamson can be reached at 303-954-1262 or email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org).