Previewing the Players on Denver Broncos' Roster Bubble
The Denver Broncos were one of the league's best teams in 2012 when they ended the season 13-3—tied for the best record in the league.
The Broncos had one of the most complete rosters in the NFL—finishing the season second in offense and fourth in defense.
Denver had five players named to the Pro Bowl in quarterback Peyton Manning, tackle Ryan Clady, linebacker Von Miller, corner Champ Bailey and defensive end Elvis Dumervil.
Even with Dumervil departing for Baltimore, the Broncos still have a stacked roster—especially after their offseason additions.
The Broncos signed the best slot receiver in the game in Wes Welker. They preceded that signing by bringing in guard Louis Vasquez on the first day of free agency. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie followed shortly after.
Denver's offseason signing spree didn't end there as it added veteran linebacker Shaun Phillips during draft weekend to offset the loss of sack specialist Dumervil.
The Broncos enter training camp with 87 players on their roster. On August 31, all teams must cut their roster down to 53 players.
As is the case with every preseason, the Broncos will have to make some tough cuts.
Entering training camp, there are several players who are on Denver's roster bubble. Which players are on the bubble as we enter training camp?
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We could write this article every year, and Knowshon Moreno's name would pop up on it.
The veteran running back enters his fifth training camp as a Denver Bronco after having been selected in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft.
Long story short, the Broncos drafted running back Ronnie Hillman with a third-round draft selection in 2012. In this year's draft, the Broncos went with a running back again in the early rounds when they selected Montee Ball in the second round.
Moreno's chances of making the roster improved with the release of running back Willis McGahee last month, but Moreno still remains on the bubble because of Denver's two young running backs.
The Broncos have seven running backs on the roster entering training camp, with four likely to be kept around as the season starts.
Hillman and Ball have roster spots locked up—the remaining two will be decided in the preseason.
The Broncos could keep Moreno around, considering his versatility when it pertains to protecting the passer, and catching the ball out of the backfield. The fact that he's Denver's most experienced running back also helps matters.
However, the Broncos could decide that Hillman and Ball are ready to carry the load and move on completely from the former first-round draft pick.
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Mike Adams started at strong safety for the Broncos during all 16 contests in 2012.
The 12-year veteran had a strong season for the Broncos, ranking third on the team in total tackles.
However, during OTAs, Adams found himself as an odd man out—David Bruton and Quentin Jammer were stealing first-team reps from Adams and Rahim Moore.
Before OTAs, there were no signs that Adams and Moore would be replaced in the starting lineup—both players had strong seasons in 2012. Denver didn't add a safety during the offseason until May, when it made its intentions clear that the team would convert the recently signed Quentin Jammer from cornerback to safety.
Via Lindsay Jones of USA Today, defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said, "We go in, and we coach 'em hard, demand certain things and then let them compete, and we'll let it sort itself out. Right now, it's the time to compete."
If the Broncos choose to go with different starters at the safety positions, Adams could find himself on the outside looking in.
Chris Kuper is Denver's longest-tenured player on offense, having been drafted by the Broncos with a fifth-round selection in 2006.
Kuper has started along the Broncos offensive line since 2007—however, he has struggled with injuries over the past two seasons.
At the end of the 2011 season against the Kansas City Chiefs, Kuper suffered a broken left ankle that ended his season. Having recovered from that same injury as the Broncos were engaged in training camp in August of 2012, Kuper suffered a broken left forearm that sidelined him until the sixth game of the season at San Diego.
Two games after returning, Kuper suffered another injury—a sprain to that same left ankle.
Three serious injuries in 10 months is not a good thing. The Broncos added Louis Vasquez to start at right guard, while Zane Beadles remains at left guard. That would mean Kuper is the odd man out.
Denver could keep Kuper around as a backup guard, but his chances of making the roster don't look good as the team enters training camp.
It's a miracle that Joe Mays is still on the Broncos' roster.
Mays was awarded a contract extension entering the 2012 season ensuring that he'd be Denver's starting middle linebacker for the present and the near future.
Then, 2012 happened.
Mays was suspended for one game after blasting Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub on an illegal hit. After returning from the one-game suspension against the New England Patriots—which saw Denver's defense give up 31 points—Mays was benched in favor of Keith Brooking.
A game after being taken out of the starting lineup, Mays' season ended when he fractured his left fibula against the New Orleans Saints.
Entering training camp, Mays is in a four-way battle with Nate Irving, Stewart Bradley and Steven Johnson for the starting middle linebacker job.
If Mays doesn't win the starting job, the Broncos will cut Mays and his $4.1 million cap hit for 2013.
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The Denver Broncos have five tight ends on the roster entering training camp, and they'll likely enter the regular season with three.
Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen return after starting at tight end for the Broncos throughout 2012. Julius Thomas—who was selected in the same draft as Green—enters training camp healthy for the first time in his NFL career. Lucas Reed was signed as an undrafted free agent.
Green was suspended for the first four games of the 2012 season for failing a drug test, and many expected that the Broncos would cut ties with Green.
Instead, they kept him around, and a year later he'll have another opportunity to remain on the Broncos' roster.
The problem is Tamme is entrenched as Denver's starting tight end, and although Dreessen is recovering from knee surgery in the offseason, it's tough envisioning a scenario where the Broncos release Dreessen in order to keep Green.
The main issue is that Thomas made an impact during OTAs, and it's clear that the Denver coaching staff is very high on him—they've kept him around for three offseasons despite the fact he's only played in nine games.
Green has been kept around for his blocking abilities—he has just eight receptions through two years—and that may help him make the roster.
Tamme is a receiving tight end, and though Dreessen is slightly better in the blocking department, he remains primarily a receiving tight end.
The same applies for Thomas.
Denver will have to make a decision—does it go with three receiving tight ends in a pass-heavy offense, or does it keep two receiving tight ends, while retaining a blocking one?