|07-22-2007, 05:14 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2006
Revamped Broncos ready to take shape
Revamped Broncos ready to take shape
After busy offseason, camp will start next Sunday
ENGLEWOOD The Denver Broncos could have used name tags during the team's three recent minicamps.
Since the 2006 season ended with a disappointing 9-7 record, coach Mike Shanahan has made several key coaching changes and executed a long list of player transactions.
Some of the moves made big headlines:
The trade of Jake Plummer to Tampa Bay for a conditional draft pick, even though the Snake was already set on slithering off into retirement.
The trade for Pro Bowl cornerback Drè Bly, which sent former starters Tatum Bell and George Foster to Detroit.
The signing of free agents Travis Henry and Daniel Graham to lucrative contracts.
Some of the moves flew under the national radar:
The signing of veteran offensive guard Montrae Holland and backup QB Patrick Ramsey.
The reacquisition of punter Todd Sauerbrun, who played well in New England last season after Shanahan cut him following a league suspension for taking a banned substance.
The signing of former Indianapolis wide receiver Brandon Stokley, who will probably be competing with Rod Smith for a roster spot in a battle of banged-up veterans.
Some of the moves were emotional:
The firing of defensive coordinator Larry Coyer, who was quickly replaced by Jim Bates.
The decision to waive Al Wilson after the popular linebacker failed a physical that negated a trade to the New York Giants.
The signing of Bly to a long-term contract, a deal Darrent Williams was well on his way to earning before the young cornerback was murdered hours after the 2006 regular-season ended.
The revamped roster which also includes three rookie defensive linemen picked in the first four rounds of April's draft will be on display for Bronco Nation to see when training camp opens in one week at team headquarters.
Here are 10 key questions facing the Broncos as they begin preparations for the 2007 season, which kicks off on Sept. 9 at Buffalo:
1. Is Jay Cutler ready to be the face of the franchise?
All of the aggressive moves won't mean much unless Cutler who showed flashes of brilliance after replacing Plummer down the stretch last season can play at a high level in only his second season in the NFL.
Forget about the inevitable comparisons to John Elway. If Cutler can join Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the deep AFC playoff field this season it would have to be considered an impressive accomplishment for the kid.
2. Can Bates put the "D" back in Denver after recent late-season collapses by Coyer's units?
Bates has plenty of talent to work with. If his aggressive scheme can finally allow the Broncos to put consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback it should result in a lot of big plays for Champ Bailey and Bly.
Perhaps Shanahan has finally found the right defensive coordinator after parting company with Greg Robinson, Ray Rhodes and Coyer in the last five years.
3. Can Smith get healthy enough to make the team?
Javon Walker took over as the Broncos' No. 1 receiver last year and Brandon Marshall is on track to win the other starting spot. Which means the greatest wide receiver in franchise history has some work to do just to break the huddle with Cutler.
The 37-year-old Smith is still recovering from offseason hip surgery but hopes to be ready to compete for his job during training camp. It's going to be a tough decision for Shanahan to make unless the 13-year veteran can return to form soon.
4. Can D.J. Williams fill the void left by Wilson's waiver-wire exit?
Physically, there aren't many players in the NFL as gifted as Williams. Now he will have an opportunity to display these talents in the middle of Denver's defense after serving a more limited role as an outside linebacker for the last three years.
The Broncos will miss Wilson's character and leadership, but Williams should be able to make more big plays between the lines.
5. Is this the year special teams is finally taken seriously?
Signs point to yes. Shanahan hired highly touted special teams coach Scott O'Brien to fix what has long been the team's weakest link.
With the return of Sauerbrun, the kicking game should be vastly improved. The Broncos are also excited about the potential of Domenik Hixon as a return man. And Jason Elam is still one of the best money kickers in the NFL.
6. Can Matt Lepsis return to form after a serious knee injury?
Shanahan didn't want to make excuses during the season, but it was obvious that the loss of Lepsis after a 5-1 start was devastating to Plummer and the rest of the struggling offense.
The former Colorado standout is expected to be healthy entering training camp. That's good news for the Broncos who have enough to worry about at right tackle with Erik Pears and Adam Meadows competing for the spot.
7. How much will the Gators aide up front?
Gerard Warren struggled with a toe injury last season and never played up to the level he did in 2005 that earned the talented defensive tackle a huge contract in Denver. This summer "Big Money" will be joined by two more Florida Gators rookies Jarvis Moss (end) and Marcus Thomas (tackle) on the defensive line.
Moss and Thomas were both suspended by Urban Meyer at Florida for failing drug tests, but Shanahan believes their talents are worth the risk. Just like Warren after his uninspired career in Cleveland.
8. Is Henry the next Clinton Portis?
Not exactly. The former Buffalo and Tennessee tailback doesn't have the speed Portis does, but Henry is a very tough runner who fits the Broncos' one-cut-and-go philosophy perfectly.
If he can stay healthy, Henry should become the first Denver running back to eclipse the 1,500-yard mark since Mr. Portis went to Washington. That would certainly take a lot of pressure off of Cutler.
9. Are John Lynch and Nick Ferguson too old?
When it comes to experience and reputation, the Broncos have arguably the best safety tandem in the NFL. But Lynch (35) is getting a little long in the tooth, and Ferguson (32) is coming off a serious knee injury.
If either one of these guys gets injured the defense would take a hit. Sam Brandon has been suspended for two games due to off-field issues. And there isn't any more depth at the positions than in 2006 when cornerback Domonique Foxworth was forced to play safety.
10. How will the tragic deaths of Darrent Williams and Damien Nash impact the team?
On the field, the Broncos have added some big-name players Bly and Henry to fill the void.
The team isn't going to talk about it publicly, but the goal is to honor Williams and Nash by getting back to the Super Bowl. Hopefully the memory of Williams and Nash will not soon be forgotten as Shanahan and Co. move on to the business of football after a tough offseason.
If you want to go camping
Training camp at the Broncos' headquarters opens to the public on Sunday, July 29, and will close on Saturday, Aug. 11. Practice times and dates are subject to change without notice. Morning practices are scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. with gates open starting at 7:30 a.m. Afternoon practices are set to begin at 3:50 p.m. on days during which the full team will practice while special teams-only practices will start at 3:40 p.m. Gates for the afternoon sessions also will be open starting one hour before the practice begins.
Parking at the Broncos' facility is located on the west side of the practice fields and is open on a first-come, first-served basis. Because space is limited, the Broncos encourage you to arrive early. The parking area is open one hour before the start of practice.
Training camp will be ADA accessible. There will be no bleachers, but fans will be able to stand and view the practices from selected areas that will be marked clearly on site.
Lawn chairs and umbrellas will not be allowed at training camp and all cell phones must be turned off to enter the practice fields.
Still cameras are allowed but video cameras will not be permitted. Only members of the media will be allowed to bring cameras with professional lenses and tripods to training camp.
A select number of Broncos players will be available for autographs after the morning practice on days in which the team does not practice special teams in the afternoon.
Sunday July 29 8:30 a.m. and 3:50 p.m.
Monday, July 30 8:30 a.m. and 3:40 p.m. (special teams only)
Tuesday, July 31 8:30 a.m. and 3:50 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 1 8:30 a.m. and 3:40 p.m. (special teams only)
Thursday, Aug. 2 8:30 a.m. and 3:50 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 3 8:30 a.m. and 3:40 p.m. (special teams only)
Saturday, Aug. 4 8:30 a.m. and 3:50 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 5 No practices scheduled
Monday, Aug. 6 8:30 a.m. and 3:50 p.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 7 8:30 a.m. and 3:40 p.m. (special teams only)
Wednesday, Aug. 8 8:30 a.m. and 3:50 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 9 8:30 a.m. and 3:40 p.m. (special teams only)
Friday, Aug. 10 8:30 a.m. and 3:50 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 11 8:30 a.m.
Monday, Aug. 13 at San Francisco (6 p.m., ESPN)
Saturday, Aug. 18 at Dallas (6 p.m., Channel 4)
Saturday, Aug. 25 vs. Cleveland (7 p.m., Channel 4)
Thursday, Aug. 30 vs. Arizona (7 p.m., Channel 4)
Sunday, Sept. 9 at Buffalo (11 a.m., Channel 4)
Sunday, Sept. 16 vs. Oakland (2:15 p.m., Channel 4)
Sunday, Sept. 23 vs. Jacksonville (2:05 p.m., Channel 4)
Sunday, Sept. 30 at Indianapolis (2:15 p.m., Channel 4)
Sunday, Oct. 7 vs. San Diego (2:15 p.m., Channel 4)
Sunday, Oct. 21 vs. Pittsburgh (6:15 p.m., Channel 9)
Monday, Oct. 29 vs. Green Bay (5:30 p.m., ESPN)
Sunday, Nov. 4 at Detroit (11 a.m., Channel 4)
Sunday, Nov. 11 at Kansas City (11 a.m., Channel 4)
Monday, Nov. 19 vs. Tennessee (6:30 p.m., ESPN)
Sunday, Nov. 26 at Chicago (11 a.m., Channel 4)
Sunday, Dec. 2 at Oakland (2:05 p.m., Channel 4)
Thursday Dec. 13 at Houston (6:15 p.m., NFL Network)
Monday, Dec. 24 at San Diego (6 p.m., ESPN)
Sunday, Dec. 30 vs. Minnesota (2:15 p.m., Channel 13)
|07-22-2007, 11:18 PM||#4|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: The 505
I thought we played KC twice this year. I guess they must have forfeited their superbowl to us because I don't see it on the schedule.
|07-22-2007, 11:38 PM||#5|
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Provo, Utah
Cant wait to see our first game in August 13th.
First play will be a handoff to Henry for a six yard gain.
|07-23-2007, 12:19 AM||#6|
It is what it Is.
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: in a bunker
My guess is the first play will be a 50 yard pass play to give the rest of the league's DCs something to think about for the season's games.
|07-23-2007, 01:04 AM||#7|
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Provo, Utah
|07-23-2007, 01:13 AM||#8|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Mar 2006
Psh. Hixon will toss a 37,000 yard pass to himself on the first play. Left Handed. While fighting terrorism. And sleeping.