Predicting the Winners of Denver Broncos' Biggest Training Camp Battles

Jon HeathContributor IJuly 23, 2013

Predicting the Winners of Denver Broncos' Biggest Training Camp Battles

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    The Denver Broncos' players will report to Dove Valley on Wednesday and kickoff 2013 training camp practices Thursday morning. 

    Going into camp, there will be 90 players on the roster. By the end of camp, there will be 53.

    That's a huge cutoff, with dozens of players all competing for the same few positions.

    In this slideshow, we project who will win some of the Broncos' biggest camp battles.

Middle Linebacker

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    Competing: Nate Irving, Steven Johnson, Stewart Bradley

    On Tuesday, the Broncos released Joe Mays, who was the team's Week 1 starter a year ago.  Parting ways with Mays freed up over $3.3 million in 2013 cap space and will give the younger linebackers on the roster a chance to win the gig.

    As of now, Irving appears to be the front-runner to win the job, although bringing in more competition remains an option for the team. Irving is liked by the coaching staff, as is Johnson, but Bradley is the most experienced.

    The trio will duke it out in camp.

    Projected winner: Nate Irving.

Starting Running Back

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    Competing: Knowshon Moreno, Ronnie Hillman, Montee Ball

    There's a misconception going around that the Broncos drafted Montee Ball to be their Week 1 starter in 2013.  Ball will get plenty of opportunities to shine and will probably be the starter by mid-season, but it's definitely not his job to lose.

    It's actually Ronnie Hillman's job to lose after Willis McGahee's release in June. Hillman has learned a lot since his rookie year and will enter camp as the starter with Knowshon Moreno still battling injuries.

    But considering John Fox's infatuation of veterans, it would be easy to see Moreno initially winning the job, especially after he filled in nicely when McGahee went down last season.

    Projected winner: Knowshon Moreno.

Second Cornerback

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    Competing: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Chris Harris Jr.

    At cornerback, Champ Bailey has things locked down as the team's No. 1 guy.  But beyond him, everything is up in the air.

    The Broncos signed Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in free agency and he has the potential to breakout under Jack Del Rio in Denver. But Chris Harris is considered one of the most talented corners in the game (just ask Matt Miller), so DRC will have competition.

    Basely solely on the fact that the Broncos seem to like Harris in the slot, this job may be DRC's to lose.

    Projected winner: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Offensive Guard

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    Competing: Louis Vasquez, Zane Beadles, Chris Kuper

    The Broncos have two guard positions for the taking and three Pro Bowl-caliber guards on the roster.

    That means one of those guards is either going to ride the bench or be released. Considering that Louis Vasquez just signed a big contract and Zane Beadles is coming off a Pro Bowl season, Chris Kuper appears to be the odd man out.

    Kuper is a solid offensive guard and has been for the Broncos for many years, but with a $4.5 million base salary due in 2013 (per Spotrac.com), his time with Denver may be coming to an end.

    Projected winners: Louis Vasquez and Zane Beadles

Third Quarterback

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    Competing: Zac Dysert, Ryan Katz

    At the top of the Broncos depth chart at quarterback is obviously Peyton Manning, with Brock Osweiler right behind him. Beyond that, nothing is settled.

    If the Broncos opt to carry a third quarterback this fall, it will be either Zac Dysert or Ryan Katz (both rookies). If the team does not carry a third quarterback, one of those two will likely end up on the practice squad.

    Dysert (a seventh-round pick) probably has a slight edge on Katz simply because he was drafted by the team. Dysert also put up better college numbers (starting four years at Miami, compared to Katz' one season at San Diego State).

    Projected winner: Zac Dysert.