Denver Broncos Training Camp 2011: Which New Denver Broncos Will Be Starters?
The abbreviated training camp will leave little time for extensive evaluation and not allow players to "play" their way into the starting lineup. Therefore, a majority of starters might earn their opportunity based on past performance and a hope that they are still able to perform to that level.
Some of the starters are no-brainers and others might be surprises that just sneak in enough exposure to get their chance on Monday Night Football to start the season.
The Rookie No-Brainers: Von Miller and Orlando Franklin
Von Miller and Orlando Franklin earned their starting spots in April on the day that each was drafted.
Von Miller will be opposite of DJ Williams at outside linebacker and floating to whatever side that Dennis Allen feels like he will be most destructive as a pass rusher. Those who have seen Miller at camp agree that the athleticism and ability is certainly there, and hopefully the preseason gets him up to NFL speed with play making.
Some might believe that Franklin only earned his starting spot recently when last year's starting right tackle, Ryan Harris, departed for Philadelphia. The truth is that Franklin was drafted to replace Harris immediately and although the Broncos were in the running to "sign" Harris, it was simply as a solid back-up who was familiar with the team.
The Offensive Acquisitions: Willis McGahee and Dante Rosario
John Fox and DeAngelo Williams were not reunited in Denver. Regardless of that fact it seemed pretty clear that Coach Fox was going to find a running back somewhere outside of his inherited Broncos roster to start for him.
It would appear that Willis McGahee is that man.
The future for players like Knowshon Moreno and Lendale White are still to be determined. John Fox is not shy about using multiple running backs but it will be clear who the starter is and that the others are just being used as a change of pace. McGahee should enter this camp knowing that the job is his to lose.
Coach Fox does have a familiar face on offense in Dante Rosario at tight end. Rosario and Daniel Fells were essentially brought in short term for a couple different reasons.
First, it allows for the potential of cutting former Josh McDaniels pick Richard Quinn. Second, it gives the team some flexibility in case 2011 draft picks Julius Thomas and Virgil Green develop more quickly then anticipated.
Plan on seeing Dante Rosario, and a lot of him, as a pass catching option for Kyle Orton on third down.
The Defensive Acquisitions: Ty Warren and Brodrick Bunkley
The Denver Broncos promised that they had a plan when they passed on defensive tackle help in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Fans may never know if Bunkley and Warren were exactly what the Broncos had in mind, or if they were back-up plans due to Barry Cofield and Brandon Mebane going elsewhere. In the end it doesn't matter.
If the Broncos enter the season with Marcus Thomas and Kevin Vickerson starting it would be a sign that no progress was made in the offseason. Simply put, Bunkley and Warren were brought in to become starters. Their careers to date more than warrant that opportunity regardless of how this shortened camp plays out.
The Dark Horses: Rahim Moore, Nate Irivng and David Anderson
Due to the recent release of Renaldo Hill, the Broncos appear to be putting a lot of stock into Rahim Moore right now. However, his status as starter is far from secure. Moore will have to play well to keep from losing his spot to David Bruton, or being replaced with a veteran that is cut by another squad who can give Moore some time to grow.
The opposite is true in the case fellow draft pick Nate Irving. The Broncos are going to give Joe Mays the opportunity to try and build on his success at middle linebacker and be the starter. Although, this is one situation where it wouldn't break the Broncos heart to see Irving step into the starting role immediately.
David Anderson has been hoping for a return to Colorado for quite some time. Anderson, who was a stand out at Colorado State, is a sure-handed pass catcher who can slip relatively undetected through defensive backfields. Anderson may never officially become a "starter" but when the Broncos go to slot formations, expect to see him running off the sideline and into the huddle.