Projecting the Denver Broncos' Final 53-Man Roster After Preseason Week 2
While it is still too early for definitive decisions on some of these guys, coaches and front office staff are getting good looks at their play on the football field. For those in the third and fourth spot down the depth chart, one great play can be the difference-maker between playing football this season or not.
After Saturday night's inconsistent play by the second and third teams, there are still a myriad of question marks surrounding that final 53-man roster.
The majority of the first team played well against Seattle, and there were some bright spots later in the game—besides Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson.
Here's a look at what the final roster may look like when the Broncos face the Steelers in week one on September 9th.
Even though some folks are hitting the panic button after Peyton Manning's inconsistent performance on Saturday night, he is the obvious starter at the quarterback position.
Although Caleb Hanie is listed as second on the depth chart, I see no reason why the Broncos should keep him on the roster. If Manning gets injured and is unable to finish out the season, why go with a guy that isn't going to get it done anyways? They might as well let their future quarterback Brock Osweiler—who is showing great promise this preseason—get some real NFL experience.
Don't be surprised to see Denver sign or trade for another veteran signal caller before the roster is finalized either.
Showing talent and drive at training camp, Adam Weber may finally make the cut this year, as opposed to the practice squad where he spent all of last season.
QB Peyton Manning
With Chris Kuper's latest injury, the starting five has changed a bit. Manny Ramirez is filling in at right guard while Kuper is expected to miss at least three games at the start of the season with a broken forearm.
In Saturday night's game against the Seahawks, the first team offensive line did their job protecting Peyton Manning in the first half of the game, proving they can go without Kuper for longer if necessary.
Chris Clark and rookie Philip Blake should make the roster in backup roles on the line. There is a chance the Broncos go with C.J. Harris instead of Blake depending on their level of play in the final preseason games.
G Zane Beadles
T Ryan Clady
There is certainly no shortage of wide receivers in training camp this season for the Broncos. However, there is a very clear division between the top four guys and the rest of the wideouts trying to simply make the team.
Andre Caldwell gave Denver a scare Saturday night, when he left the game after a hard tackle on a ruote over the middle. His X-Rays came back negative, and he should be able to make a solid contribution at wideout this season.
Matthew Willis will make the cut due to his special teams skills. Jason Hill was signed this offseason and could earn that last spot depending on the outcome of these next two preseason games.
WR Eric Decker
Look for the Broncos to go with four tight ends on their final roster.
Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen should share the starting duties and catches. They both fit in well with a Peyton Manning-run offense. Meanwhile, Virgil Green will be serving a three-game suspension due to a banned-substance violation.
The fourth guy will most likely be Julius Thomas unless he is unable to heal properly from an offseason ankle surgery. If that is the case, then Cornelius Ingram may get the nod and finally find himself off the practice squad after being on three of them in the past two years.
TE Joel Dreessen
Running Backs & Fullbacks
The running back position is by far the tightest race for a spot on that final roster.
Willis McGahee is the clear starter and even though Ronnie Hillman has an injured hamstring, what he has shown so far is enough to earn a place on the team.
Lance Ball is consistent but not very exciting, and Knowshon Moreno hasn't done much to prove his case so far this preseason. It is Knowshon's roster spot to lose and needs to make some plays these next two games in order to keep it.
Xavier Omon had heads turning in a great game against Chicago in week one. However, he followed it up with nothing on Saturday night against the Seahawks' second-team defense.
Jeremiah Johnson has been intriguing and could beat out Lance Ball if he can prove his worth on special teams. Neither Omon nor Johnson is eligible for the practice squad, so they will really need to make an impact these in these final two games to be a Bronco.
Chris Gronkowsi will be the only fullback on the roster and should fit well in the system for short-yardage situations.
RB Willis McGahee
FB Chris Gronkowski
The defensive line is the area in need of the most improvement this season if the Broncos are going to make any kind of playoff run.
The major tricep injury to Jason Hunter throws a slight wrench into the left side, and he will most likely wind up on the IR instead of the final 53-man roster. Rookie Derek Wolfe has stepped up and is looking like a solid solution at left defensive end. Elvis Dumervil will resume his starting role as a bookend on the right side.
Ty Warren is healthy and ready to hold down the interior with veteran Justin Bannan. Mitch Unrein and Kevin Vickerson should also make the cut, providing some depth along the line.
DE Elvis Dumervil
DT Ty Warren
Last season's Defensive Rookie of the Year, Von Miller, is poised for another stellar season as the Bronco's leading pass rusher on the strong side.
Due to D.J. Williams' off-field issues and multiple game suspensions, Wesley Woodyard has been filling in as the starter on the weak side. So far this pre-season, his performance has been worthy of that starting slot. While the talent of Williams isn't easy to replace, the Broncos may have to cut ties with the distraction in order to move forward with the guys they have.
Joe Mays should remain in the middle with Nate Irving, Danny Trevathan and the recently-acquired Keith Brooking providing some depth on the line.
SLB Von Miller
MLB Joe Mays
WLB Wesley Woodyard
This season the cornerback position will look a bit different than past years in Denver. Perennial Pro Bowler Champ Bailey will certainly be the anchor, but he will have some new faces with him in the defensive backfield.
The additions of Tracy Porter, Drayton Florence and rookie Omar Bolden will hopefully provide much needed depth at corner. Chris Harris, the second-year unsigned free agent and emotional fan favorite, will probably be the only other corner to make the final roster—thanks, in part, to his slot coverage.
CB Champ Bailey
Without longtime veteran Brian Dawkins in the secondary, the Broncos have had to reshape the roster at the safety position.
The off-season acquisition of veteran Mike Adams will help to fill the void along with Rahim Moore and Quinton Carter who showed promise for the Broncos last season and have both had good outings so far in camp.
David Bruton most likely solidified a roster spot on Saturday night against Seattle with his stand-out special teams play. He was responsible for a blocked punt, had some great heads-up tackling, and almost had his hands on another punt.
SS Mike Adams
FS Rahim Moore
There's nothing shocking in this department.
All three of these guys are solid in what they do and will continue this season. Matt Prater's role may change a bit, as he should do less bailing out and more capping-off great drives.
Whether they need to utilize Colquitt as much this season is to yet be determined. One thing is for sure—he can handle it. Colquitt finished last season with 33 punts downed inside the 20-yard line, good for second in the league.
K Matt Prater
P Britton Colquitt
LS Lonie Paxton