10 Denver Broncos Players Who Will Surprise in Training Camp
When the Denver Broncos open training camp in just over one week, you can count on Peyton Manning completing one perfect pass after another. Champ Bailey will be showing the young group of defensive backs how to stick with a wide receiver and Von Miller will be all over the field.
Not only do you get to see some of the best players fine-tune their skills during training camp, it is also a great time for other players to emerge and make the roster or climb the depth chart.
It may be a player returning from injury or a young rookie that surprises fans in training camp. Maybe it's a player they have never even heard of before.
So if you plan to attend Broncos training camp, here are some players that just may surprise you.
Steven Johnson, Linebacker
The middle linebacker position on the team seems to be wide open as Nate Irving, Joe Mays and Stewart Bradley could all win the job, but they'll have to beat out Steven Johnson to do it.
Johnson made the team last year after being an undrafted rookie out of Kansas. He went on to become one of the team's best special teams players.
Johnson is an excellent tackler with good football instincts. He isn't the fastest player on the team, but if he can show the ability to drop back in pass-coverage, then he could easily be the team's starting middle linebacker this season.
C.J. Anderson, Running Back
C.J. Anderson was not drafted after playing running back at California, but he has the physical tools to play in the NFL. His style translates well to the Broncos.
Anderson is a hard runner who is also tough to bring down. He exhibits good vision as a ball-carrier and he can catch the ball out of the backfield.
With Willis McGahee being released earlier this summer, the door is open for a player like Anderson to make the team. At the very least, he should be on the team's practice squad.
Jeremy Beal, Defensive End
Hopefully fans get to see much more out of Jeremy Beal this year than they have to this point in his career. With the departure of Elvis Dumervil, the team would benefit greatly from a player that could spell Robert Ayers at the defensive end position.
Beal has good skills as a pass-rusher but he can also defend the run, and that is what could set him apart as a player that makes the final roster.
Staying healthy will be the key for him and if he takes care of that, he'll raise some eyebrows.
Kayvon Webster, Cornerback
This is a good player to keep your eye on because he should be a starter in the Denver secondary sooner rather than later.
Kayvon Webster is a physical player who has the ability to shadow a wide receiver down the field. But he is also a very solid tackler and the team may even be able to line him up at safety down the road.
2013 will be a learning year for Webster, but he has Champ Bailey and Chris Harris to absorb information from. In fact, he already shows skills similar to both players.
In the run game, he often comes up from the backfield to make a tackle and that may be the biggest reason the Broncos selected him. Who does that remind you of?
Ryan Doerr, Punter
The Broncos have a punter that they are very satisfied with in Britton Colquitt. However, you will see a lot of Ryan Doerr in training camp and preseason games and so will other NFL teams.
Doerr was a very consistent punter for the Kansas State Wildcats and left the school with a 41.0-yard average on his kicks. He probably won't challenge Colquitt for his job, but he may land with another team later in the year.
Quanterus Smith, Defensive End
This is a player Denver fans are going to be very happy with, especially those who may feel the loss of Elvis Dumervil will have lingering effects.
Quanterus Smith was one of the best pass-rush prospects in the 2013 NFL draft and the Broncos got him in the fifth round. Perhaps teams were scared off by the knee injury he suffered last season or maybe he was overlooked at Western Kentucky.
The Broncos are getting a player who can become an elite pass-rusher. He has a great first step, long arms and when the quarterback is on his radar, he goes down. Expect Smith to be a contributor to the defense for many years to come.
David Bruton, Safety
Most Broncos fans recognize David Bruton as one of the league's better special teams players. But could he get more playing time on defense?
Bruton hasn't gotten much time at the safety position but this year, that could change.
The Broncos are looking to put the best safety combination on the field this season after the team was repeatedly burned by opposing tight ends last season. Then in the playoffs against Baltimore, things fell apart.
Rahim Moore and Quinton Carter will probably get the first chances to start at the two safety positions, but don't count Bruton out. If either one of them falters, he is more than capable of picking up the pieces.
Bruton is a good tackler and a smart player with good instincts. If he has gotten better in man-to-man situations, he could be in the mix for more playing time.
Quincy McDuffie, Wide Receiver
Quincy McDuffie is another undrafted rookie that was brought in as a free agent. Every year since 2003, an undrafted rookie has made the final roster.
That bodes well for McDuffie who had a solid college playing career at Central Florida where he returned six kicks for touchdowns. He is a very fast player who caught 92 passes in his four years in college.
The Broncos already have one of the league's most dangerous return men in Trindon Holliday, but McDuffie could become another weapon for them. He has a very good chance to at least earn a spot on the practice squad.
Gerell Robinson, Wide Receiver
Gerell Robinson is going to make a name for himself in training camp this year. He was with the Broncos last season and made it to the final round of cuts.
Robinson has great athletic ability and could shine in what should be a fierce competition at the wide receiver position. At 6'4" and 220 pounds, he provides a big target and is very dangerous after the catch.
Robinson should get plenty of chances to work with Brock Osweiler in camp and preseason games. The two played together at Arizona State and in 2011 they connected 77 times for 1,397 yards and seven touchdowns. That year, Robinson averaged 18.1 yards per catch.
The Broncos will likely keep five wide receivers and it would be surprising if Robinson is not one of them.
Ronnie Hillman, Running Back
Ronnie Hillman experienced a mixture of results during his rookie season in 2012.
While he gained 330 yards on the ground, he only averaged 3.9 yards per carry and failed in pass protection. The team took a noticeable step back when he had to relieve Knowshon Moreno in the playoff loss to Baltimore. He ran for 83 yards on 22 carries in that defeat, but looked tired down the stretch.
But with that season under his belt, Hillman will come into camp with a focus on improving and showing the coaching staff what he is capable of. According to Pro Football Talk, he is confident he can be the team's top running back.
Hillman will compete with Moreno and second-round draft choice Montee Ball for playing time and a running back-by-committee approach seems likely.
Still, if Hillman can prove that he isn't a liability in protecting the quarterback, he could very well be the starting running back this season.