Bubble Watch for Denver Broncos Training Camp
When the Denver Broncos take the practice field for training camp on Thursday, there will be new faces and returning veterans working side by side in preparation for the 2013 season.
Despite their varied differences in age, experience and abilities, many of them all have the same thing in common: They're on the roster bubble.
To be on the roster bubble must be a terrifying feeling, and it's something these players will have to overcome (by either beating it or landing on their feet elsewhere) this summer.
Experience: Five seasons
Depth Chart Position: Fighting for the fourth receiver gig
Analysis: Caldwell was highly offended when quarterback Peyton Manning took his top receivers to work out earlier in the offseason and didn't take "Bubba" with him. Unfortunately for Caldwell, that may have been a sign of things to come for the young receiver.
After the Broncos brought in Wes Welker in free agency and drafted Tavarres King in the draft, the 28-year-old's chances of seeing increased playing time in 2013 decreased. Unless he has a strong training camp showing, it will be hard for him to beat out Greg Orton and the other young receivers on Denver's roster.
Caldwell has a shot to make the team, but it won't be easy.
Experience: Five seasons
Depth Chart Position: "Competing" for the MLB gig
Analysis: It sounds cruel to say, but Joe Mays might as well start packing now.
After starting in four games and recording 20 tackles last season, Mays is due to make $4 million in 2013, per Spotrac.com. That's more than Wesley Woodyard, who recorded 117 tackles last season.
Mays has been unproductive and out of place during his time in Denver, taking terrible angles against the run and proving to be a handicap in pass coverage. To top it all off, Nate Irving and Steven Johnson are emerging at the MLB position, and the team brought in Stewart Bradley for added depth during free agency.
As of today, Mays' chances of making the team appear to be very low.
Experience: Seven seasons
Depth Chart Position: Third-string offensive guard
Analysis: If not for his injury concerns and a large $4.5 million 2013 salary, Chris Kuper would probably be guaranteed to make the final cut this summer.
Then again, if not for Kuper's injury concerns and salary, the team probably wouldn't have brought in Louis Vasquez in free agency, which was the move that may end up being the precursor to Kuper being cut by Denver.
He has been a reliable starter for Denver since joining the team in 2006. But with the emergence of Pro Bowler Zane Beadles and the addition of Vasquez, Kuper and his 2013 cap hit have become expendable.
Unless he agrees to restructure his contract and stay in Denver as a backup, Kuper's days in Denver may be coming to an end.
Experience: Four seasons
Depth Chart Position: Fourth-string running back
Analysis: If the Broncos carry three running backs and one fullback this season, Lance Ball may end up being the odd man out.
Jacob Hester is the team's versatile fullback and is safe from being cut if the team decides to carry a fullback. Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball were both recently drafted by the team, and Knowshon Moreno provides veteran experience.
It wouldn't be surprising if those four players end up being the team's backfield committee this fall. Unfortunately for Ball, there may just not be room for him in Denver's crowded and talented backfield.
Experience: Nine seasons
Depth Chart Position: Fighting for a safety position
Analysis: After the Broncos drafted Kayvon Webster and signed Quentin Jammer in free agency, Mike Adams' job security became a little shaky.
Both Webster and Jammer are refereed to as "defensive backs" by the team and are versatile enough to play both safety and cornerback, making them more likely to make the team over a veteran player like Adams, who is starting to slow down.
Besides Webster and Jammer, Adams will face competition from Rahim Moore, David Bruton and Quinton Carter, among others. Unless he displays some youthful exuberance in camp and outperforms all of the young defensive backs on the roster, it will be hard for Adams to again make the roster this summer.