The 5 Biggest Questions Heading into the Denver Broncos' Training Camp
The Broncos' training camp is just shy of a month away and fans in Denver couldn't be any more excited about it.
The curiosity and intrigue surrounding this year's squad is the highest it has been in decades. A record number of fans are expected to attend the practices at Dove Valley this season in the hopes of seeing a much improved, potential Super Bowl winning team.
With all the hype comes some question marks. Here's a look at some of the biggest issues the Broncos have coming into camp.
Will Peyton Manning Return to Studville?
The most obvious of questions heading into Broncos' training camp is surrounding Peyton Manning.
First, there's the issue of his health. Manning missed the entire last season after having two neck surgeries. He has been cleared to play and is looking great; however, it is unclear how he will react when taking a real live NFL-strength hit.
Can Manning return to the elite level of play he achieved in Indianapolis? With the exception of Brandon Stokley and Jacob Tamme, he has a whole new team to get used to. Manning is faced with the task of finding his rhythm with the new receiving corps.
Whether he stays healthy and can play at a level worthy of this offseason's free agency circus is still up in the air. Training camp is a great opportunity for Manning to show the fans and critics alike what he still has left in the tank and what to expect from him this season.
Who Will Step Up at Running Back?
The running back situation in Denver is somewhat of a head scratcher.
It's not that they don't have the bodies. Willis McGahee, Knowshon Moreno, Lance Ball and the third-round pick of this year's draft Ronnie Hillman are the top guys coming into training camp.
Willis McGahee is approaching 31 years of age, a senior citizen in running back years.
Knowshon Moreno hasn't lived up to the promise of his elite college career and has been held back by injuries. This year should be his last chance to prove to the Broncos coaching staff that he is their guy.
Maybe this will be the year that Lance Ball steps out of the backup role and gains more carries? It is still yet to be determined what kind of an impact rookie Ronnie Hillman will have on the squad.
It remains to be seen how the situation will eventually pan out. Fans are certainly interested in how the running game will fit in and complement the new Peyton Manning-led offense.
D.J. Williams: Should He Stay or Should He Go?
What to do with D.J. Williams?
That's a question the Broncos are faced with after an offseason filled with some strange behavior coupled with previous off-field issues.
He is currently facing a six-game suspension to start the 2012 season stemming from a violation of the league's substance abuse policy. Williams subsequently sued the NFL, claiming his urine sample was tampered with.
Then there's his second DUI charge since being drafted by the Broncos in 2004. He is scheduled to appear in court in August for a DUI he incurred in November of 2010. If convicted, he could serve jail time and a potential suspension for another four games. That could mean 10 games without the veteran linebacker.
Williams also caused a ruckus when he recently tweeted a picture of the Broncos' defensive playbook for all to see. With a guy like Wesley Woodyard primed and ready to step up, one would think Williams would be on his best behavior. He obviously didn't get the memo.
It will be interesting to see if the Broncos part ways with D.J. Williams or decide that he's worth the trouble he has gotten himself into.
Is Derek Wolfe the Savior at Defensive Tackle?
It is no secret that the weakest spot of the Broncos' roster is at defensive tackle.
The Broncos were horrendous against the run last season and will need a solid improvement in their production to be a playoff contender.
Some saw the decision to draft Derek Wolfe in the second round as a risky one. Most talent scouts had at least a few guys ahead of Wolfe at defensive tackle when he was selected by Denver.
With the departure of veteran Broderick Bunkley, the Broncos need someone on this squad to step up and make the necessary plays this season.
Derek Wolfe was solid against the run in his college career at Cincinnati and has the chops to be successful in the NFL. If he has a solid performance at training camp it will bode well for the defense—allowing for a collective sigh of relief from the fans.
Will Jack Del Rio End the Defensive Coordinator Carousel?
Jack Del Rio is the fifth defensive coordinator for the Broncos in five seasons.
Will he be the one to make an impact on this Broncos defense and provide the consistency that is so desperately needed? Broncos fans sure hope so.
He certainly has the pedigree, as his defenses while with the Jaguars were ranked among the NFL's best. Del Rio has a solid prior relationship with coach John Fox which will certainly help his comfort level coming into camp.
The potential for solid improvement on the defensive side of the ball is a definite possibility if Del Rio can come in and gain trust and respect from the guys. He is inheriting proven elite talent in Von Miller along with some young rookies eager to prove themselves.
We'll just have to see how the hiring of Jack Del Rio plays out for the Broncos and if they will be moving on to their sixth defensive coordinator in 2013.