Denver Broncos Training Camp: Week 3 Stock Report
The Denver Broncos' training camp has been brutal lately, and not just in the sense of up-downs and sprints. There have also been fights, with tempers flaring and that competitive spirit breaking out. Peyton Manning might not like it, but this is a good thing in camp, a very good thing.
Denver needs that anger and toughness. It needs that edge. The team was technically phenomenal last year, but it didn't have the rough attitude that you need to really impose your will on another team. Denver could do it with finesse and skill, and that's plenty in many games, but not in all of them.
The new attitude has shaped the camp, and it's been pushing players through the ranks as the roster is sorted out. There are still a lot of cuts to be made before it's all finalized, and the camp—along with preseason games, of course—is where coaches make these decisions.
Check out some of the players who are falling downward by not producing as expected and others who are rising rapidly through the ranks. It's an exciting time to be a Broncos fan as the 2014 squad really takes shape.
Stock Down: Danny Trevathan
This isn't really Danny Trevathan's fault, but he's falling anyway. Reports indicate that he has a fracture in his leg right below his knee, as per ESPN's Josina Anderson (h/t Kyle Montgomery of Mile High Report). When he fell down in practice, grabbing it, some people feared the worst: ACL. It's all too common these days, and it can end the year for any player. Just look at the way Sean Lee went down in Dallas.
Fortunately, doctors have assured him that it's not anything that dire. He is supposed to be out for a max of eight weeks, with the minimum set at four. That gets him back in plenty of time to play this year, though not in all of the games, so someone else is going to have to step up into his role. He did lead the team in tackles last year, so those are big shoes to fill.
To his credit, he thinks he will be back in just six weeks, not eight.
Stock Up: Lamin Barrow
When one guy goes down, the next guy has to step up. That's just what Barrow has done, and he is now running with the top defense more often than he was before. The rookie was drafted for his speed and athleticism, not necessarily his size, but that really makes him a match for Trevathan, who also excels in those things.
Barrow knows that this is his chance—as much as you hate to use that word with a man down—and he's taking advantage of it. He said that he has to be more urgent. If that can push him to develop, it could be a great thing.
Barrow was originally thought to compete for the middle linebacker spot with Nate Irving, though Irving looked like the front-runner. It now looks like things will stay that way. If the Broncos need Barrow to play elsewhere, Irving will be all but settled into his middle spot.
There is also a good chance that Brandon Marshall takes this job, and he's gone so far as to say that it's his plan to get the job done, per Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com. He does have more experience than Barrow, so Barrow is really going to have to keep working in camp to earn it.
Stock Down: C.J. Anderson
This is another one that really isn't even the guy's fault, but C.J. Anderson doesn't look like he'll be catching Ronnie Hillman any time soon. He just suffered a concussion in camp—though he's back from it now—and the NFL is really taking concussions seriously. The Broncos are not going to push him into playing time, and each one wears on a guy a little bit more than the last.
Anderson did come back with a new helmet, saying that, as a player who went to Cal, he loved his brain, per Mike Klis of The Denver Post. This is good, and it's exactly the same strategy that Wes Welker used last year. He turned to a new helmet to make sure he wouldn't go down again. It didn't seem to impact his playing time once he got back.
The difference is that Welker is a proven cog in this offense and Anderson is not. Missing time and racking up injuries in camp hurt his stock more than it could ever hurt Welker's.
Stock Up: Kenny Anunike
The Duke product has already been getting a lot of talk for his motor and drive and has been making his presence known at camp. Maybe it's the fact that he wasn't drafted, so he has that chip on his shoulder and knows that he needs to earn it. Maybe it's just the way he plays the game. No matter what, it's been positive.
Recent reports show that he is continuing that way, this time making a splash when it comes to stuffing the run, as noted by Lauren Giudice of DenverBroncos.com. He hammered Jerodis Williams, who had been having a good day, with a resounding hit. It's that type of memorable hit that often gets undrafted or late-round rookies onto the team—just ask Terrell Davis about that.
Anunike isn't going to have much chance to start, but he can battle his way into a depth position. He has the physical tools to do it, and his desire is bringing him closer and closer to it each day. Now that he has shown ability in rushing the passer and stuffing the run, it's making his case very strong.
Stock Down: Cody Latimer
Latimer is going to be a star in this league, just not quite yet. He's struggled at times in camp, and he didn't have a catch in the preseason game. Now, that's just one game, so it's not too much to worry about, but camp seems to be exposing a bit of an issue with him as well.
He spent some drills going up against first-round pick Bradley Roby, and Roby was really getting the better of him, per David DeChant of DenverBroncos.com. On one play, Roby made sure he landed out of bounds after making the catch. On another, Roby was able to knock the ball out of his hands even though he'd already caught it. These were the top two picks working hard, and a win for one is a loss for the other.
The problem for Latimer is that—no offense to Roby—he's going to go up against much, much better corners if he gets in a game during the season. This is a guy he had to face in college, with both players being Big Ten products. Granted, Roby was drafted high for a reason, but Latimer is going to have a hard time against a vet if he's struggling with a rookie.
He needs to step up, and the next preseason game would be a great time to show what he's got.
Stock Up: Jacob Tamme
I've called on multiple occasions for Jacob Tamme to be cut. He is eating up a lot of cap space (relatively speaking) and not really contributing much since the emergence of Julius Thomas. If the Broncos need to make room for someone else, it makes sense not to have Tamme on the bench.
That said, he's been having a good camp, showing that he's a reliable target. He has history with Manning. There is chemistry there. Even with backup quarterback Brock Osweiler on the field, he's been making diving catches and helping the offense move the chains.
Denver does need someone like Tamme just in case something happens to Thomas. Sure, he's not going to be the main option ever again, but he's showing in camp that you could do far, far worse than having him in a backup role.
I may have to revise my position.
Stock Down: Duke Ihenacho
Duke Ihenacho isn't in a good position. He was a bit suspect last year, especially in coverage. He was really only playing because other safeties—Rahim Moore and Quinton Carter—were hurt and done for the year. Now, with both of those guys back and T.J. Ward added to the mix, it's going to be hard for Ihenacho to simply make the team. A starter one year, fighting for his job the next.
Recent practices have not been helping his case any. He was beat by running back Juwan Thompson on a long run, with Thompson outpacing him for something like 25 yards, who ran it in for the score, as reported by Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com. Thompson is an undrafted rookie out of Duke University. He's been having a nice camp himself, but this isn't exactly like getting beat by a starter or a vet. These are guys that Ihenacho needs to stop. If he can't get that done and prove himself, he's not going to make it past the final cut.
Stock Up: Bradley Roby
Camp is hard for corners. The transition to the NFL is just hard in general. Roby has been a bit up and down, and that's been a little worrisome. However, he put some of that to rest in the first preseason game when he threw a terrific hit and knocked the ball loose. It was an excellent play, showing great reaction time, toughness and a nose for the ball.
Now, he's doing something even more important: putting in the work. After practice was done, he was still out on the field, working with Rod Woodson. They were dialed in, focused on hand moves, and everyone else cleared the field with Roby and Woodson still hard at it.
That's the type of work you have to do to get better in the NFL. You have to go above and beyond. That dedication and desire will be excellent for Roby. He already has all of the physical tools and then some. He just needs to develop his game a bit, and he's doing what it takes.
It certainly doesn't hurt that Woodson is in the Hall of Fame. That's the type of advice you take to heart.
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