The pre-season has come to an end and it’s time to play games that count. I’m thrilled.
The cuts came over the weekend and I can only imagine how tough of a time that is for the coaches. Can you imagine working with a group of players for several months, teaching them, watching them work their hardest and getting to know them and them having to tell one-third of them they can’t work here any more? I know, it comes with the territory but that has to be difficult, to say the least.
Some thoughts about the 53-man roster:
RUNNING BACKS. I think it’s a quality group consisting of Selvin Young, Andre Hall, Michael Pittman, Peyton Hillis and, when he gets healthy, Ryan Torain. The fact that Torain is on the roster and not on injured reserve tells me that the Broncos fully believe he is on track to be healthy in early November. That could give him as many as nine games (maybe more?) to contribute. And I think by the end of the season, if he doesn’t get injured again, Torain will certainly be a factor. I’m also excited to watch rookie fullback Peyton Hillis. I know he won’t be a featured ball carrier but he just seems to be a hard-nosed football player who gets things done. I love those kind of guys.
WIDE RECEIVERS. I like the way this unit shapes up. Brandon Marshall, Darrell Jackson, Eddie Royal, Brandon Stokley and Keary Colbert bring a good mix of experience, youth, talent, big-play ability, and make-the-tough catch qualities. Yes, the Broncos will miss Marshall against the Raiders, but let’s not forget tight ends Tony Scheffler, Daniel Graham and Nate Jackson as targets for quarterback Jay Cutler. Brandon Marshall is special, but I’d like to think the Broncos will still be able to move the football through the air while he misses one game.
THE DEFENSIVE BACKFIELD. We know Champ Bailey is one a level by himself, but there’s talent and experience at the other cornerback spots, too. Dre Bly, Domonique Foxworth, Karl Paymah, Jack Williams…a team could do a lot worse than that. I also think the Broncos’ safties will make plays. Marquand Manuel, Marlon McCree, Hamza Abdullah, and Roderick Rogers make up a pretty good quartet.
THE TRENCHES. The approach seems to be safety in numbers and I like it. We know the issues the Broncos have had on the defensive line the past few years. With ten defensive linemen, the Broncos should be able to go full-out every play and be able to substitute freely. I’m especially excited to see how Marcus Thomas develops through the year. He could turn out to be a really special player. And the Thomas-Dewayne Robertson combo could be a force. On offense, here’s a tip of the cap to rookie left tackle Ryan Clady. I know he hasn’t even played one regular season game but he seems to be living up to the hype of a number-one-pick-turned-immediate starter. That’s impressive. The O-line will be even better when center Tom Nalen gets healthy and back on the field and the Broncos have to hope that will be sooner than later. Talk about the ultimate stud-offensive lineman, Nalen is as good as they get.
LINEBACKERS. I love seeing D.J. Williams back at an outside spot. I look for him to be one of, if not THE biggest playmaker on defense. I think it’s a solid group; I think it’s a tough group.
SPECIAL TEAMS. I am a huge Jason Elam fan and hated to see him sign with the Falcons, but over the course of four pre-season games I have come to have a lot of confidence in new placekicker Matt Prater. While he still has to come through when the games mean something but to this point, he has done everything right. I love the number of touchbacks he has produced, too. Those are huge. New punter Brett Kern seems to have a big leg and the Broncos seemingly would have done well had they chosen to keep Sam Paulescu instead.
What do you think about the 53-man roster? Feel free to offer your thoughts; I always enjoy reading them.
Later this week, I’ll take a look at the upcoming regular season.
Thanks for reading,