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columbiaskinny
07-28-2007, 10:04 AM
Rick Jussel can be reached via e-mail at sports@gjds.com

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Denver Broncos are the last team in the National Football League to open training camp, doing so today.

Not to worry. They’ll catch up.

Questions abound because new faces in critical places also abound.

The big question, of course, revolves around second-year quarterback Jay Cutler, Mike Shanahan’s hand-picked savior.

Cutler certainly showed late last season that he has the talent and moxie to succeed as a quarterback in the NFL. He showed off a terrific arm and a willingness to stand in the pocket until the last possible second before delivering the ball.

Now he just has to show that, in a relatively short time frame, he has learned to throw the ball consistently to the right-colored jersey and the correct receiver.

I’m not worried, largely because of the supporting cast Cutler has been handed.

The Broncos made two huge offseason acquisitions to help the offense.

First, they signed free agent tight end Daniel Graham. Graham was mostly a blocker with the New England Pats, one of the league’s best.

And that can’t do anything but help Cutler and the other huge pickup, running back Travis Henry, a free agent from Tennessee.

In my mind, last year’s biggest problem with Denver, particularly late in the season when they tumbled out of the playoff chase, was lack of a running game. They could not punch the ball up the field. Instead, they hoped the now-departed Tatum Bell or rookie Mike Bell would occasionally break a long gain. That does not make for good offense.

Henry will.

He’s a slasher who is tough to bring down at the line of scrimmage and will do exactly what Denver needs for lengthy periods of time — rush for 4, 5 and 6 yards at a clip and move the chains.

That will allow Cutler play-action pass opportunities galore.

Another thing that will help Denver offensively is the return of left tackle Matt Lepsis, who returns after tearing up a knee early last season. He is one of the league’s top pass blockers and his return will allow his replacement, Erik Pears, to move to the right side and battle with veteran Adam Meadows for the starting job.

With Javon Walker and Brandon Marshall penciled in at starting wide-outs and the additions of Brandon Stokely, the former Colt standout, and, at some point, veteran Rod Smith, as the third receiver, the Broncos have plenty of talent and depth offensively.

Defensively, Shanahan addressed the team’s biggest need, the defensive line, through free agency and the draft. Shanahan brought in eight new interior linemen to compete with the holdovers, a group that deteriorated in the second half of last season.

Free agents Sam Adams and Jimmy Kennedy, both in the 335-to 350-pound range, add plenty of beef in the middle, as do 295-pounder Alvin McKinley, a free agent from Cleveland, and 300-pound draftee Marcus Thomas. Those four are added to line holdovers Gerard Warren (325 pounds) and Ebenezer Ekuban (285 pounds), who moves inside from his end spot.

Denver is suddenly huge and deep in the middle.

Add draftees Jarvis Moss, a first-rounder, and second-round pick Tim Crowder to Elvis Dumervil, John Engelberger and Kenard Lang and there is hope of a consistent pass rush.

D.J. Williams, now in his third year, moves into the middle of the linebacking corps to replace Al Wilson. Ian Gold is still the weakside backer and still flies to the ball. Those two will be fine. The question is who plays the strong side, Warrick Holdman, or T.J. Hollowell, both free agent pickups.

The secondary should be a strength despite the stunning death of Darrent Williams.

Dre Bly, a Pro Bowl player, was brought in to replace Williams at the corner opposite Champ Bailey and those two provide Denver with the best cover duo in the league.

Safeties John Lynch and Nick Ferguson, despite age, provide leadership, plenty of nasty attitude and consistency.

Overall, it’s a talented group, right now. If it stays healthy, we’ll all enjoy the show well into 2008.

http://www.gjsentinel.com/sports/content/sports/stories/2007/07/28/7_28_rj_bronco_bits_WWW.html

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07-28-2007, 10:20 AM
Thanks for the read, Skinny. I want to CP you for that, but we'll have to wait
until I fulfill some commitments (self-made, not any kind of agreements or
anything).

Not a bad analysis, although the author overlooked a couple players, such as
D.D. Lewis and Nate Webster, either who could end up as the starting SAM.
Also, I don't believe Ekuban will move to the inside, although they kind of goofed
around with that in minicamp, I understand. He is a DE, and we already have a
host of players at DT. We need his experience at DE.

Nonetheless, it was one of the better analyses I've seen.

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Javalon
07-28-2007, 11:18 AM
Yeah, I don't like the idea of Ekuban at DT. 300 lbs is about the lower limit I like those guys at he's a full 15 lbs below that. An occasional move inside is fine to mix things up but I don't like that idea as a permanent switch.

columbiaskinny
07-28-2007, 11:24 AM
Ebenezer is alot more effective at end and this scheme should really benefit him, it really favors his strenghts.

Broncosinindy
07-28-2007, 11:49 AM
Ebenezer is alot more effective at end and this scheme should really benefit him, it really favors his strenghts.
I could be tottaly wrong here but they are only gonna play him inside at T on passing downs. if they do play him there full time we could have a repeat of last year when he played tackle.

columbiaskinny
07-28-2007, 12:23 PM
I could be tottaly wrong here but they are only gonna play him inside at T on passing downs. if they do play him there full time we could have a repeat of last year when he played tackle.Yeah, that's a good point and understandable.

I wonder if he really is up to 285.

He's normally around 270-275 right??.