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Old 06-17-2010, 09:33 AM   #1
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Default More long ball

Reply Guaranteed: Wideouts, Corners and Other OTA Tidbits
By Andrew Mason

A long-delayed trip into the mailbag, to which you can contribute by clicking here …

Hi there! I found this site through MHR recently, and have been reading ever since. I’m hooked on the detailed first-hand news that you’re able to provided. I’ve got a few questions, if you’ve got the time:

1. It sounds like Orton is having a great camp so far, what have you noticed about his long-ball? It sounds like we’re going to more of a vertical game this season, which makes me curious if Orton has been practicing that more during the OTA’s, if he’s hitting receiever’s in stride, if it looks like he’s getting the longer ‘touch’ passes down, etc..

2. Have you noticed any major differences in any players’ weight? Specifically, I’m curious about Woodyard. I heard somewhere that he looks to have gained some muscle, any idea how much? What type of role has he been playing (inside, outside, 1st/2nd, etc..)?

3. Have you noticed any of the new(ish) guys taking on a leadership role?

4. I understand Cox has been in with the first team, but that Phonz and Jones have only played nickle. Correct? If so, does Cox look better out there in your opinion?

5. Which receiver has impressed you most? Which one has impressed you the most, consistently, out of McKinley and Willis?

Thanks for taking the time, I appreciate it. And again, love your site!

Alex Adams
Burleigh, Idaho

First of all, glad you like the site. The best thing I can write to you is we’re only scratching the surface of what this is going to be. The perspective and voices on the site in the future will be fair, reasoned, and hopefully insightful.

1. Everyone’s been working more on the long ball, just because it was a stated point of emphasis from Josh McDaniels. Brady Quinn looked to have more strength on the deep passes, but Kyle Orton was more accurate. (And Tim Tebow can fling it, particularly on those difficult out passes. Don’t let the pre-draft skepticism fool you; arm strength will not be an issue for him.)

Back to Orton: one pass in particular stood out from my observations: a deep post route to Brandon Lloyd on May 27, which was one of two long Orton-to-Lloyd connections that day. On the post, Nate Jones had good coverage but Orton beat it with a perfect pass that hit Lloyd in stride. It was exactly the kind of play that will help make this offense work.

One more thought that cannot be overlooked: it would be impossible for Orton to handle his current situation with more class and maturity. The addition of a rookie first-rounder and another recent first-rounder would often bring out the prickly side of a quarterback, but Orton has answered every question about the situation with wisdom and dignity. The best compliment that can be offered in an NFL team headquarters is to say that a player “gets it,” and this is the case with Orton.

2. I haven’t noticed a perceptible difference in Wesley Woodyard’s weight. He looks quicker out there, but that could also be a function of moving without pads; a better gauge will come when training camp arrives. So far, his place is the same as it was in 2009. Woodyard is perfect in his role: a special-teams ace who is good enough to play — and play well — with the first unit, should the need arise. Sometimes NFL teams have special-teams coverage and protection guys who are liabilities as backups at their offensive or defensive positions; this isn’t the case with Woodyard, which is why his future is bright; guys like him can last a decade or more in the league when they find their niche.

The only other item of note regarding player weight regards Jarvis Moss, who said last Sunday he’s at 245 pounds, but wants to add up to eight more before training camp.

3. One thing I noticed during the first 20 minutes of the rookies-only practice that were open to the media on April 30 was how Tim Tebow seemed every bit the leader he was at the University of Florida — patting guys on the helmet, seeking out teammates for a quick word or two, encouraging his teammates, etc.

As OTAs continued, it appeared Tebow was successfully balancing leadership among rookies with knowing his place and deferring to the veterans. This is a tap dance that can be difficult to execute, but given the praise of Tebow from teammates — most notably Champ Bailey — he’s executing it well.

But when it comes to overall team leadership, Brian Dawkins is still the alpha dog — as he should be. I can see how he’s the kind of guy who makes a young player sit up straighter in his chair when he speaks: commanding, authoritative, and more than a decade of experience to back up his words. In these regards, he reminds me of Rod Smith, which is the highest compliment I can offer.

4. Among the full team, that’s correct. During the open practices, Smith frequently intercepted passes — he had at least one in three different sessions — and looked more comfortable than he did last year. Jones’ strength is his versatility, since he can swing over to safety and back up. Cox is a high-potential player; he has good size and knows how to use it. Although his 40 time at the Combine didn’t turn heads, his quickness is above average. McDaniels offered an accurate assessment of where Cox stands when he was asked about the cornerback’s performance at minicamp:

“Sometimes he’s been playing with that first group in the secondary, and that’s been great for him to learn from those guys,” McDaniels said. “At the same time, he’s made mistakes that cost us — but he doesn’t usually make the same mistake multiple times, which is very important for a young player to learn.”

Demaryius Thomas recovered from a foot injury and showed flashes of the talent that propelled him into the first round. (PHOTO: MAXDENVER.COM)
5. It was hard not to be impressed by Demaryius Thomas. He had a few early bobbles, but they can be attributed to the rust of not practicing for nearly four months. On the practice field, you look for glimpses of the future, and with Thomas they’re evident in multiple over-the-head receptions and a downfield grab where he leapt over Tony Carter for the football. He plays to his size and showed good instincts and terrific body control. There will be inevitable rookie ups and downs, and you typically don’t get a good idea of what a receiver can be until his second year (unless the receiver in question is Randy Moss).

That being said, it’s logical to expect incumbents Jabar Gaffney and Eddie Royal to be the linchpins when the season begins. Both looked smooth, comfortable and confident at OTAs. Their experience in the system helps them, and Royal, who worked in the slot the last few weeks, possesses a similar skill set and kick-return experience as the most productive slot receiver in the McDaniels offense (New England’s Wes Welker). Kenny McKinley and Matthew Willis are intriguing, but their place on the team will likely be determined by what they contribute on special teams.

Much has been made of the trade of Brandon Marshall in regards to his behavior — both on and off the field. But I think his trade actually helps the receiving corps from a football perspective. With a bunch of decent-to-good receivers, defensive game-planning becomes difficult, because you can’t focus on one wideout. Look to the New Orleans Saints as an example; seven different players had at least 35 receptions, but none had more than 70. Don’t be surprised to see similar balance from the Broncos this year.
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Old 06-17-2010, 09:40 AM   #2
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Thanks for posting this.....good stuff.
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Old 06-17-2010, 10:31 AM   #3
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Haha friggin Jarvis Moss! 3 years and he hasn't gained a pound.
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Old 06-17-2010, 10:42 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by PRBronco View Post
Haha friggin Jarvis Moss! 3 years and he hasn't gained a pound.
didn't he get sick and go down to about 230? so actually 245-250 not bad for him and is a positive.
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Old 06-17-2010, 01:38 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by cutthemdown View Post
didn't he get sick and go down to about 230? so actually 245-250 not bad for him and is a positive.
That seems correct.

IIRC- he got a staph infection which really messed him up big time. So for now he put on 15-20lbs or so. Not bad from where he was at.
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Old 06-17-2010, 02:06 PM   #6
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That was years ago when he was in college.
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Old 06-18-2010, 01:11 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by cutthemdown View Post
didn't he get sick and go down to about 230? so actually 245-250 not bad for him and is a positive.
He also broke his leg early in his rookie year.
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Old 06-18-2010, 01:22 AM   #8
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GREAT stuff to hear about Orton.

For all the attention Tebow has gotten if we're gonna make the playoffs this season (and I for one am not writing this season off) Orton is gonna be our leader.
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Old 06-18-2010, 03:12 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by PRBronco View Post
Haha friggin Jarvis Moss! 3 years and he hasn't gained a pound.
I find that simply unreal.
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Old 06-20-2010, 02:09 PM   #10
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Go Broncos!!
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