Denver Broncos: 4 Players Who Need to Step Up in Week 2 or Face Benching
There was plenty of blame to be laid all around the Broncos lineup in Monday night's loss to Oakland. Still, some players are just not leaving the lineup anytime soon, and will have time to get themselves right.
There are also those who might not necessarily have anything better behind them to be replaced with. That example applies to the offensive line especially. Manny Ramirez and Russ Hochstein might be serviceable replacements but neither offers an appreciable difference over the current starters.
Others in the lineup do not have that luxury and need to perform better against the Bengals to keep the heat off of them. Here are four on the hot seat.
(Just a warning...you won't find Kyle Orton on this list heading into week 2)
Joe Mays, Middle Linebacker
Joe Mays had a decent camp and was impressive enough at the end of last season to earn the opportunity to start this year. However, only registering five tackles when the Raiders rushed the ball almost 40 times is not going to keep him there.
It is always hard to look at stats to indicate performance, as it is never 100 percent clear what the scheme required the player to do. However, Mays needed to do a better job of helping to plug the gaps left by the depleted Broncos defensive line.
The reason that Mays needs to worry is because this is the very reason that Denver kept Mario Haggan. The crafty veteran might help provide some solidarity in the linebacking corps while DJ Williams (who would have helped immensely against the speed of Darren McFadden) is out.
Robert Ayers, Defensive End
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Think back to the play where Darren McFadden was deep in the backfield and trying to find the edge while Ayers was chasing him. Not only did Ayers penetrate to deep to keep containment, but he looked so slow that the only way he could stop McFadden was to commit a 15-yard penalty for tackling by the ear hole.
Combine this with the fact that his backup, Jason Hunter, registered the games only sack for the Broncos, and the clock may strike midnight on Ayers fairly soon.
Knowshon Moreno, Running Back
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The picture alone is fairly telling. Head trainer "Greek" Antonopoulos is probably tired of seeing Moreno in the training room and begging John Fox to call plays that will keep him out of there.
This might not be a benching in the classic sense, but what needs to happen is that Moreno needs to stop carrying the ball inside. It has been written on this site, and others, that Moreno would be best used as a third down back coming out of the backfield and getting the ball in space.
Maybe Fox will be inclined to listen to this suggestion or risk watering down his lineup permanently by losing Moreno for the season.
Eddie Royal, Wide Receiver
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It seems unlikely that, somewhere between his rookie campaign and now, Eddie Royal suddenly became un-talented right?
Why then is it so hard for Kyle Orton to find Royal on a regular basis?
His productivity just seems to dip every season and this one has started in much the same way. The problem now threatening Royal for keeping his No. 2 receiving position is that Eric Decker is demanding more touches with his play.
Royal will never completely disappear from the Broncos offense, but with the emergence of Decker and the prospect of Julius Thomas earning more looks, it is time for Royal to step up.