Denver Broncos: Players with the Most to Gain in Camp
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But training camp is the setting for players to step up and make the most of their opportunity to prove they belong on the team.
We all know Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Willis McGahee, Von Miller and Champ Bailey will make this squad, but what about the players we aren't familiar with, or the ones that may be on the bubble?
After all, Terrell Davis was merely a sixth-round draft pick before making his presence felt on special teams with a huge hit in a preseason game—one that got him noticed as he sat sixth on the running back depth chart at the time.
T.D. was supposedly a long shot to make the roster that year and some of the names mentioned in this article might be, too. However, the opportunity is there for all of these players to make a name for themselves and become a big part of the 2012 version of the Broncos.
Philip Blake, Center
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The Broncos selected Blake in the fourth round of this year's draft out of Baylor to add depth to their center position. He will compete with J.D. Walton for the spot.
Those who followed Manning's career in Indianapolis will remember how important Jeff Saturday was to that offense.
The player who clicks best with Manning will line up as the starting center for the Broncos this season. The job is definitely Walton's to lose, but Blake has a great chance to unseat him and become a starter in his rookie year.
Joel Dreessen, Tight End
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Joel Dreessen is another new face for Broncos fans, coming over as a free agent from the Houston Texans.
Jacob Tamme is the presumed starter at tight end and he may have a leg up in the competition due to his familiarity with former Colt teammate, Manning.
But don't sleep on Dreessen. Dreessen has at least 26 receptions in each of the last three seasons and that's with playing second fiddle to Owen Daniels in Houston. Dreessen also has local ties as he attended Colorado State University, which might make him a bit of a sentimental favorite.
The Broncos still don't know what they'll get out of second-year players Virgil Green and Julius Thomas, whom combined for four receptions last year.
Dreessen has a chance to step up in a big way heading into the season.
Gerell Robinson, Wide Receiver
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Gerell Robinson went undrafted coming out of Arizona State, but the Broncos may have found one of the gems of this year's rookie class by signing him.
He definitely will be a project player, but his physical ability can't be ignored. His physical size will allow him to become a big target for Manning and he is loaded with big play ability. In his senior year at ASU, he had receptions of 35 yards of more in seven games.
On Wednesday, the Broncos released fellow undrafted rookie Eric Page, which will open the door even more for Robinson.
The Broncos currently have 11 receivers on the roster and it will be up to Robinson to outperform the likes of Greg Orton, Tyler Grisham, D'Andre Goodwin, Matt Willis, Mark Dell and Jason Hill to earn a spot on the roster.
The Broncos should keep at least six wide receivers and there's a chance Robinson could make the list.
Mario Fannin, Running Back
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This is Fannin's chance to shine and may also be his last chance, as well.
The Broncos brought him in last year as an undrafted rookie out of Auburn but he never played a down, injuring himself early in training camp.
The Broncos staff was reportedly very excited about the performance of Fannin prior to that injury and it's a shame he hasn't been able to perform to this point.
There is opportunity in the Broncos backfield this year, mainly due to the uncertainty surrounding former first round draft pick Knowshon Moreno.
Between that and last year's derailed season, Fannin should have all the fuel he needs to show what he can do.
Derek Wolfe, Defensive Tackle
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Are the Broncos thinner at any position than they are at defensive tackle?
That's exactly why they drafted Derek Wolfe in the second round of the draft.
He has a non-stop motor and also had 9.5 sacks from the defensive tackle position in his senior year at the University of Cincinnati.
Wolfe will have veterans Ty Warren, Justin Bannan and Kevin Vickerson also vying for a starting defensive tackle spot, but after signing him to a four year contract with 3.2 million in guarantees, the Broncos will want Wolfe to see plenty of the field.
If Wolfe does what he needs to do in camp, there's no reason he can't be one of the starters at the position come opening day.
Malik Jackson, Defensive End
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It remains to be seen what punishment Broncos star defensive end Elvis Dumervil may face following a road rage incident on July 14 in Miami. Even if he doesn't have to serve any jail time, he'll still likely have to go before NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and possibly be suspended.
With that being said, the Broncos need to see what they have at the defensive end position beyond Dumervil in order to make sure a backup plan is in place.
That opens the door for Malik Jackson. He is a 6'5" defensive end who was selected in the fifth round out of Tennessee.
Jackson played all along the defensive line in college and was a solid pass rusher.
Wesley Woodyard/Danny Trevathan, Linebacker
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Unlike Dumervil, we do know that linebacker DJ Williams may miss up to six games due to suspension.
That will leave a big void in the Broncos' defense as one of their leaders won't be there, so it is imperative for either Wesley Woodyard or rookie Danny Trevathan (or perhaps both) to slide into that position.
Woodyard is a solid player and had 67 tackles last season in his usual situational role, which was starting seven games.
Trevathan came to the Broncos as a sixth-round draft pick out of Kentucky, which was the same school Woodyard played at.
Trevathan will have to earn his playing time and will probably see a role starting out on special teams while Woodyard fills in for Williams.
But both men need to be able to show they can be trusted when called upon because the performance at this position, in the absence of Williams, could easily be one of the keys to the Broncos 2012 season.