OPEN CAMP: July 29, UC Health Center, Englewood, Colorado.
LAST YEAR: Broncos followed Super Bowl 50 win with stumble that ended five-year reign as AFC West champs. Trevor Siemian beat out veteran Mark Sanchez and first-round draft pick Paxton Lynch to win QB job as Peyton Manning’s surprise successor. He started strong but held onto the ball too much behind porous O-line and paid price, missing 2 1-2 games with injuries. Lynch went 1-1 but performed poorly as old coaching staff declined to mold offense to better suit his skills. Denver’s dominant defense finally cracked under pressure of carrying inadequate offense and never got chance to lead Broncos on another playoff run; Denver missed playoffs by one game. Opponents found weak link in defense, handing ball off rather than risk letting LB Von Miller and ”No Fly Zone” secondary wreck their game plans. Miller had great season but was held without sack over final month, lost NFL Defensive Player of Year award to Oakland’s Khalil Mack by one vote.
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IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: LG Ron Leary, rookie LT Garett Bolles, RT Menelik Watson, NT Domata Peko, DL Zach Kerr, rookie WR-KR Isaiah McKenzie, rookie TE Jake Butt, rookie WR Carlos Henderson, RB Jamaal Charles, rookie RB De’Angelo Henderson, OLB Kasim Edebali.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: OLB DeMarcus Ware, RB Kapri Bibbs, LT Russell Okung, CB Kayvon Webster, RB Justin Forsett, NT Sylvester Williams.
CAMP NEEDS: Broncos need to settle on starting QB ASAP so that WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas can get into rhythm in Mike McCoy’s souped-up offense. They also need to see if Charles is still factor after he missed most of last two seasons before getting cut by Chiefs. If he is old self, he adds dynamic option. If not, he could be gone by cutdown day.
EXPECTATIONS: For second straight season, Broncos are NFL oddity: They have legit championship aspirations even though they have big questions at quarterback. Despite offseason injuries to Peko, Shaq Barrett and Adam Gotsis, Broncos again expect defense to lead way. But this time they’re counting on much better support from revamped O-line, new offensive coaching staff and restocked wide receivers corps for whichever QB wins starting job.
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