5 Reasons Why Denver Broncos Fans Should Be Excited for Training Camp
In the off-season alone, the Broncos got rid of star Tim Tebow, signed four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning, brought in Super Bowl XLIV hero Tracy Porter and inked tight ends Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme.
The Broncos went through a revamping of sorts with their roster and enter 2012 with higher expectations than they left 2011 with.
Training camp starts in Dove Valley on July 26th, and it'll be the first opportunity for fans to witness the new-look Broncos on a daily basis before the regular season starts.
Here are five reasons why Broncos fans should look forward to training camp.
1. Peyton Manning
That name alone conjures up enough hope and promise that nothing else needs to be said in the title header.
Here are the simple facts. When Peyton signed with the Broncos in March, it immediately went down as the biggest free agent-signing in NFL history. There may be no quarterback in NFL history that is as individually accomplished as Manning is.
Peyton is the only four-time MVP in NFL history, holds the single-season record for passer rating, has the most consecutive 3,000 yard passing seasons and ranks near the top in all-time ranks in every major passing category.
Tim Tebow brought the Broncos a rejuvenation and helped them become a playoff team.
Peyton Manning makes the Broncos a true contender worthy of playing for a Super Bowl title.
That is the difference between having Peyton and having another quarterback on your roster.
Just ask the 2011 Indianapolis Colts.
2. First Real Action Since 45-10 Playoff Defeat to the Patriots
Remember that infamous night in January when the Broncos entered the Divisional Round playoff matchup with the Patriots, fresh off the heels of a massive upset from the defending AFC Champion Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card Round?
Those positive feelings quickly evaporated as soon as the whistle blew in Foxboro.
This 45-10 game wasn't just a blowout—it was a Boston massacre.
The score does not do this game justice. The perfect stat to display just how mismatched this game really was, was the fact that Tom Brady had more touchdowns than Tim Tebow had completions at halftime.
It will feel good to finally put the past in the past once the Broncos take the field for their first training camp practice on July 26th at Dove Valley.
It'll also feel good when the Broncos visit Foxboro in a rematch of last year's Divisional Round playoff game on October 7.
3. The 2012 Broncos—Unlike the 2011 Broncos—Should Be True Contenders
The 2011 Broncos were a magical team.
Miraculous comeback after miraculous comeback. Fourth quarter comebacks a weekly occurrence. Tim Tebow becoming a media darling again.
The 2011 Broncos defied all odds. Not only did they start 1-4 under the leadership of Kyle Orton—they were the second-worst team in the NFL in 2010.
Nobody in their right minds would have predicted that the Broncos would end up winning the AFC West and eventually not only host a playoff game, but win it also—with Tebow as their quarterback.
Having said that, as nice as the 2011 season was, the Broncos were never true threats to win a Super Bowl title.
The 2012 season should be different.
With one of the greatest quarterbacks in the game on the Broncos, and a revamped roster surrounding him, the Broncos enter 2012 with higher expectations than they entered with in 2011.
4. Training Camp Battles
The most notable of training camp battles entering the preseason are at the RB and DT positions.
At RB, a lot of outsiders will expect Willis McGahee to once again carry the load for the Broncos in 2012. Don't expect that to be the case when reality kicks in.
McGahee will be 31 years old during the season, has undergone numerous surgeries throughout his career and has never been a back that you can depend upon to carry the load from season to season.
Whoever emerges from the depth chart of Knowshon Moreno, Ronnie Hillman, Jeremiah Johnson, Xavier Oman and Mario Fanin will ultimately split carries—if not eventually supplant McGahee—during the 2012 season.
As of this writing, the starting defensive tackles on the depth chart are veterans Kevin Vickerson and Ty Warren.
Nobody really stands out from this group, but if any interior lineman is to become a true force in 2012, it's second-round draft pick Derek Wolfe.
Come training camp, we will see if the rookie is able to supplant either of the veterans for a starting spot.
5. Who Will Emerge as Unexpected Contributors?
In 2008, current Broncos LB Wesley Woodyard entered training camp as an undrafted, undersized rookie free agent out of Kentucky. He was a long-shot to make the roster.
He ended the 2008 pre-season as the most impressive player on the roster, and flash forward three years later, he's one of Denver's starting linebackers.
Almost every year you have a player who enters training camp as another body on the preseason roster but ends up having an impressive preseason to the point that he makes the opening day 53-man roster.
Who will it be this year?
Among the candidates at the moment are linebackers Mike Mohamed and Danny Trevathan, running back Mario Fanin and WR Eric Page.
Mohamed played a couple of games for the Broncos in 2011 after having been a late-round draft pick. He can play just about any linebacker position, and whether he makes the roster or not will largely depend upon the performance of Danny Trevathan.
Trevathan enters training camp as the 2012 sixth-round draft pick. During organization team activities, Trevathan played the role of a starting linebacker in the nickel defense. If Danny can find a role in passing down situations, there is no doubt that he'll make the roster. With D.J. Williams' suspension and Joe Mays' inconsistencies as a starting linebacker, Danny can fill a gap for the Broncos.
RB Mario Fanin is a long-shot to make the roster as there are numerous backs ahead of him on the depth chart.
With McGahee and Hillman having two roster spots locked up, that leaves one RB spot open.
With the inconsistencies of the backs in front of him, Fanin can easily emerge as a threat. Fanin has lightning-fast speed, having ran the 40-yard dash at 4.37 seconds. The reason he went undrafted in 2011 was due to fumbling problems at Auburn.
With the exception of Jeremiah Johnson, of all of these backs on the fringe, Fanin is the only guy who has true playmaker ability as a runner.
WR Eric Page comes out of the University of Toledo as an undrafted free agent who set records at Toledo and was named an All-American in 2010 as a sophomore.
Remember receivers in recent years such as Blair White, Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon, who entered as unknown and unheralded players?
As soon as these three receivers played with Peyton, they had success.
Does anybody doubt that if Page makes the roster, he can have the same amount of success with Peyton?