||07-30-2009 06:45 AM
Paige: Broncos get fresh, with new faces all around
By Woody Paige
The Denver Post
Coach Josh McDaniels and QB Kyle Orton start their first camp together Friday. (John Leyba, The Denver Post )Of the 80 players in Broncos camp, 47 will be new. Also, 11 new assistant coaches. And, you may have heard, a new head coach.
But you might not have heard that the Broncos quietly hired a new director of video operations, Steve Scarnecchia, who is a fascinating addition. He spent the past three years with the Jets in a similar position. From 2001-04 he was on the video staff with the Patriots.
His father, Dante Scarnecchia, is the Patriots' assistant head coach and offensive line coach. Two years ago a Patriots video assistant was discovered during a game with the Jets illegally taping the defensive signals, you may have heard. It caused a major cheating brouhaha. Steve Scarnecchia's roles with the Patriots and Jets came into play. Josh McDaniels worked with Scarnecchia in New England.
All together now: "Hmm?"
Back to the roster.
The Broncos have accumulated three — count 'em — three new quarterbacks, four new running backs and enough other draft choices, un- restricted NFL free agents, college free agents — and a long snapper in a pear tree — to field an expansion team. In fact, the Broncos haven't brought this many new players to camp since Dan Reeves had an annual cattle call of 120 or so in the days before the league mandated 80, max.
Honestly, I didn't come up with the number 47. Josh, by gosh, told me the other day, and there's no reason to question him. He majored in math in college.
Which leaves, I think, 33 holdover players.
Despite the myriad roster changes, the Broncos likely will start nine players on offense who were starters last season. (Tom Nalen, who was forced onto injured reserve before last season and promptly dropped out of sight without comment, has informed the Broncos he is retired.)
The only fresh starters on offense will be at quarterback (Kyle Orton) and running back. (All of us remember the previous quarterback; few of us recall the herd of starting running backs in 2008. Does the name Tatum ring a Bell?)
Defense is another story. The Broncos could end up with seven, or even more, new starters — especially considering that two starters — Elvis Dumervil and D.J. Williams — are shifting to new positions.
Happy NEW Year! Maybe.
Forty-seven is a lot of new players to be assimilated into a new system and evaluated over the next five weeks before the regular-season opener.
McDaniels has declined to announce a precamp depth chart and said after Wednesday's practice: "The depth chart is very fluid. At many spots players may start in the morning (workout), and others will start at the other. We'll get reps for everybody, and the starters will shake out during camp."
This much we know or can guess about the lineup and 53-man roster:
Orton has been named the starting QB, and McDaniels told me emphatically he doesn't want to replace quarterbacks during a game, or a season. So Chris Simms is destined to be the backup, and rookie Tom Brandstater will hold a clipboard.
Running back Knowshon Moreno will start sooner than later, but Correll Buckhalter, LaMont Jordan and Ryan Torain will be in the mix, and Peyton Hillis is the fullback.
The offensive line remained intact after center Casey Wiegmann decided to return. He'll be flanked by Ben Hamilton and Chris Kuper and the Ryans — Clady and Harris — and Rick Dennison still will coach them, and the rumors are wrong. The Broncos will continue
to utilize the zone-blocking scheme. Daniel Graham is the starter at tight end, but Tony Scheffler, Jeb Putzier and draft pick Richard Quinn will get playing time.
Assuming Brandon Marshall is healthy and doesn't trip over his lower lip or get his wish to be traded, he will start with Eddie Royal at wide receiver. Brandon Stokley, Jabar Gaffney, Kenny McKinley and Chad Jackson, in my opinion, will get the other spots.
And Lonie Paxton is the expensive long snapper.
Bailey will be surrounded by Brian Dawkins, Renaldo Hill and Andre Goodman, who we hope is a good man at the other cornerback, with rookies Alphonso Smith, Darcel McBath and David Bruton and second-year man Jack Williams in reserve.
The inside linebackers in the new 3-4 will be Williams and Andra Davis, backed by Wesley Woodyard and Spencer Larsen, with Dumervil and Darrell Reid on the outside, backed by Robert Ayers, Jarvis Moss and possibly Tim Crowder.
Ronnie Fields will open at nose tackle and be flanked by a host of defensive ends, starting with Kenny Peterson and a third Ryan, McBean, with Rulon Davis as the sleeper of camp.
And the punter (Brett Kern) and kicker (Matt Prater) are in place.
Let the camptown races begin. Doo-dah.