With each passing hour, NFL training camps inch closer and closer. The Denver Broncos report on July 25th and have their first practice on July 26th. As with every training camp, there will be a few surprises when the final roster is set. Anyone can react to the moves after they happen but today we forecast some bigger names that could be looking for work right around Labor Day!
Robert Ayers-Defensive End- I admit this one would really shock me but it is not out of the realm of possibility.
Ayers did come on at the end of the 2011 season and played very well in the playoff win versus Pittsburgh, but has been a disappointment overall. The Broncos drafted Derek Wolfe in the first round and even though he is a defensive tackle, he can play end. There are some other younger guys as well that the Broncos like. If Ayers wants another shot at the Steelers in the opener, he better come to camp ready to play.
Caleb Haine-Quarterback- The Broncos signed Haine to be Peyton Manning’s backup but then drafted, Brock Osweiler in the second-round. When asked about Osweiler, John Elway said “Peyton has been asking who the backup is going to be; now we know.” That doesn’t sound too promising if you’re Haine. The team also loves the upside of, Adam Webber and would like to see him continue to develop.
Knowshon Moreno-Running back- This one may not be that big of a surprise, in fact I believe Moreno is going to have a tough time making this team. Number one, the Broncos have 3 guys they love in Willis McGahee, Ronnie Hillman and Lance Ball. Ball may surprise some but he’s a professional who knows his role and is excellent on special teams. That leaves one spot and the favorite to win it right now is, Mario Fannin. The front office at Dove Valley loves Fannin who would have made the team last season had he not gotten hurt. There are some both in and out of the organization that believe Fannin could be the best running back on the roster. Combine that with Moreno’s disappointing play on the field, his problems off the field and his injury history and it’s not hard to see why the 12th overall pick in 2009 may well be playing somewhere else in 2012.
Julius Thomas-Tight end- Thomas was drafted last year based on his unbelievable athletic ability and a potential upside. The team, however, was not happy with Thomas’s work ethic or his progress in the 2011 season. Thomas has also has a difficult time staying healthy and waited until the start of the off-season program to have ankle surgery, meaning he will be out till training camp. That did not sit well with the front office brass. Denver also signed two tight ends in free agency in, Jacob Tamme and Joel Dressen. Tamme and Dressen are veterans but not old veterans and could be in Denver for a few seasons, making it difficult for Thomas to get on the field. Virgil Green is also a second year tight end who was more productive during his rookie year and has shown more upside. Teams do not like giving up on draft picks after only a season but it would not be a stunner if the Broncos said goodbye to Thomas.
Those are just a few players who, if they want to play with Manning, better have the best training camps of their lives. We are just over 2 weeks from training camp; the off-season is just about over!