Denver Broncos: 6 Potential Sleepers to Watch for in Training Camp

Clint DalyContributor IIJuly 29, 2012

Denver Broncos: 6 Potential Sleepers to Watch for in Training Camp

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    Denver Bronco training camp is officially underway!

    This is great news for those of us who have been waiting impatiently since last January.

    For a number of veterans, the start of training camp is nothing to be excited about.

    Two-a-days in the heat, days filled with meetings and organized team activities all day aren't much fun for players who already have a set spot on the team.

    But those players who are out there looking to earn a roster spot have to be sharp every day.

    We know the stars on the team. We know Peyton Manning, Champ Bailey and Von Miller.

    Yet, every year, there are a few players who come out of nowhere and compete to make the team.

    The Broncos have some key positions where they need help.

    The defense has to improve this season. The offense will look completely different.

    There are positions that are ripe for the taking. 

    So, who will the sleepers be this season? You may not know a few names listed here right now.

    But you will.

    Here are six players to keep an eye on.

Defensive Tackle Ty Warren

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    It's a little unfair to put Ty Warren on this list, but he may be below your radar.

    Warren played eight very productive seasons with the New England Patriots before joining the Broncos last season.

    Warren tore his triceps in the preseason and never played a snap last year.

    Warren restructured his contract in order to stay in Denver early this summer.

    The Broncos' defensive line managed 41 sacks without Warren, but they did give up over 126 yards per game.

    While rookie defensive tackle Derek Wolfe may garner most of the attention, look for Warren to make the bigger contribution.

Tight End Cornelius Ingram

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    Cornelius Ingram will most likely be listed dead last on the Broncos' depth chart at the tight end position. 

    However, if he gets an opportunity, Ingram will make plays.

    Ingram played both basketball and football at the University of Florida. In his sophomore and junior seasons, he caught 64 passes and scored eight touchdowns.

    He suffered a knee injury in his senior season and has struggled with his health since then.

    Ingram stands 6'4" and weighs in at 245 pounds.

    He has the size and the skill to play tight end in the NFL.

    If Ingram can stay healthy, he could be a welcome surprise to an offense that would utilize his skills as a receiver.

Linebacker Jerry Franklin

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    Jerry Franklin is an undrafted free agent from the University of Arkansas who signed with the Broncos following the 2012 NFL draft.

    Many publications had Franklin forecasted to be drafted sometime after the fifth round but Franklin's phone never rang.

    A superb tackler, finishing his career with 281 tackles, Franklin was a two-time, All-SEC member. 

    In addition to being a tackling machine, Franklin also had five interceptions while at Fayetteville.

    This is a kid who can play football.

    So why wasn't he drafted? 

    After a solid week at the East-West Shrine game for seniors, Franklin wasn't even invited to the combine.

    Jerry Franklin will make the most of his chances in the NFL.

    Keep an eye on No. 49.

Center Phillip Blake

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    On the other side of the combine was Philip Blake. 

    Blake was a senior All-Big 12 center at Baylor who started 38 games in his three-year career.

    When invited to the combine, he made the most of it, impressing scouts with his athleticism.

    The Broncos drafted Blake in the fourth round with the 108th pick.

    Two-year starter JD Walton is, undoubtedly, the incumbent starter at center, but Blake could make that race tougher than you might think.

    An added benefit to Blake is that he's versatile enough to play the guard position as well. 

    So whether it be at center or at guard, expect to see Blake make an impact on the field this season.

Cornerback Joshua Moore

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    Joshua Moore was drafted out of Kansas State University by the Chicago Bears in 2010.

    After spending some time on the Bears' practice squad Moore was released.

    Don't count this kid out.

    He's a better than average tackler at the cornerback position. He made 76 tackles in his junior season at Manhattan.

    76 tackles?

    At cornerback?

    But this is also a player who can cover. While playing on a undermanned Wildcat team, he still managed to break up 11 passes as a senior.

    Aggressive and unafraid, look for Moore to be a pleasant surprise in the Broncos' defensive backfield.

Running Back Mario Fannin

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    Another player who may be forgotten because of injury, Mario Fannin showed some serious promise in last year's preseason.

    Strong enough to run between the tackles and quick enough to bounce the play outside, Fannin could move into a more prominent role in the Bronco backfield.

    He was looking like a solid contributor last year when he went down with a torn ACL.

    At 5'10" and 231 pounds, Fannin is a strong runner who is capable of breaking tackles.

    But what people may not realize is that Fannin has very soft hands and actually ran a 4.37 40-yard dash in the rookie combine last year.

    He has some serious competition ahead of him, and it will not be easy.

    The starter, of course, is Willis McGahee. Knowshon Moreno is a backup who must be set on reestablishing himself as a contributor. Then, you have the rookie Ronnie Hillman, Lance Ball and Jeremiah Johnson.

    So, this is not a simple undertaking.

    But watch for Fannin to overtake three or four of those runners and earn himself significant playing time.