5 Things We Learned from Denver Broncos Training Camp so Far
The Denver Broncos have been practicing for over a week now at their Dove Valley headquarters in Englewood, Colo.
There have been pleasant surprises and fierce competitions across the board, leading up to the team's first depth chart of 2013, which was released on Sunday.
With the new depth chart in mind, we examine five things we have observed from Broncos camp.
Wes Welker Is the Real Deal
Welker has quickly won me over.
At the team's scrimmage at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Saturday, it was pouring rain. All of the receivers—including Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker—were dropping wet balls.
I didn't see Welker drop one pass.
What's more, Welker's route running was exceptional, and his speed was surprisingly notable. Welker's 40-yard dash time has ranged from 4.55 to 4.65, but that number is deceiving.
Welker's routes are crisp, and even Chris Harris Jr.—ranked third among all cornerbacks in the NFL by B/R's Matt Miller—can't cover him. This guy is the real deal.
Duke Ihenacho Is Emerging
One year ago, Duke Ihenacho was an undrafted rookie sitting on Denver's depth chart.
Entering 2013, Duke is primed to upset veteran Mike Adams to win a starting job in Denver's secondary.
The second-year safety has looked impressive in camp and ran with the first-team defense during the team's scrimmage on Saturday night. Currently listed as the third safety on the depth chart, Ihenacho could win himself a starting job with a strong preseason showing.
Broncos May Keep Six Cornerbacks
IAOFM.com's Douglas Lee is right—you can never have too many cornerbacks.
The Broncos have a nice problem on their hands; they have too many talented corners. Either one or two solid cornerbacks are going to be cut by the team, or the Broncos are going to carry a boatload this fall.
Champ Bailey is safe, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will play across from him, Chris Harris Jr. is the team's slot man, Tony Carter performed well last season, Omar Bolden was drafted by the team in the fourth round just a year ago and Kayvon Webster was selected in the third round of April's draft.
Who among that group do you cut? Denver's front office will have some tough decisions to make.
Julius Thomas Is Starter Material
Currently, finally healthy Julius Thomas is listed as the third-string tight end behind Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme on Denver's depth chart. But if one (or both) of Dreessen and Tamme aren't healthy, Thomas will be thrust into a starting role.
And he's ready.
Dreessen has had a setback in his recovery from knee surgery, USA Today's Lindsay Jones wrote on Sunday, which may cause him to miss the rest of camp. In his absence, Thomas will get more reps.
In camp, Thomas has looked impressive, and he played well against the first-team defense during the team's scrimmage on Saturday. Watch for Thomas to break out in 2013.
Ronnie Hillman Is Top Dog in the Backfield, for Now
Second-year running back Ronnie Hillman is currently the team's starter, but I'm not sold on that being the case come Week 1.
As CBS4's Vic Lombardi noted on Vic's Signature on Sunday night, the Broncos clearly want Hillman and rookie Montee Ball to beat out Knowshon Moreno and emerge as the team's two running backs. Both players have gotten a lot of offseason reps, and both players are listed ahead of Moreno on the depth chart.
But when push comes to shove, Moreno is a better pass-blocker and a more experienced runner. In the end, I still think Moreno will initially win the starting job.
As of now, it's Ronnie Hillman's job to lose.