Denver, CO. With the first 2012 Denver Broncos preseason game just one day away, the initial depth chart has now been released. Not many surprises really, and quite honestly whatever order the players are in on that sheet doesn’t mean much at all at this point. The team still has four exhibition games to really dissect who is legit and who may not even make the final cut. But one thing that this first depth does accomplish is that it can send a message. Every year, there are always a handful of players who are not living up to what the coaches and fans are expecting. This year is no different, as a few guys need to step it up, beginning tomorrow versus the Chicago Bears.
The first player I will address is potentially the most enigmatic, and has been for a few years now. Robert Ayers, what is the deal? The University of Tennessee product was selected by the Broncos three years ago with the 18th overall pick. Keep in mind, he was chosen in that draft ahead of Clay Matthews (GB), Hakeem Nicks (NYG), and LeSean McCoy (Phi). Ayers, who was an All-SEC defensive end in 2008, is listed as a second stringer on the current depth chart. He is now entering his fourth year in Denver, and so far his production has been sporadic at best. This is a critical year for him, as another off-year would definitely put him in the “bust” category. After signing a free agent contract this summer, safety Mike Adams was brought in to start and take over Brian Dawkins’ old spot. He is also listed on the second string behind second year man Quinton Carter. I still believe Adams will start when the games matter, but maybe this is a signal to him to pick it up a notch. Jason Hunter is listed ahead of rookie Derek Wolfe on the defensive line, which I believe does two things. It rewards Hunter for having a nice camp so far, and also lets Wolfe know that he needs to keep working hard to earn playing time on this defense this year. On the offensive side of the ball, Andre Caldwell is listed ahead of Brandon Stokley. Not a big surprise, as both should make this team. However, even though he is “Peyton’s guy”, Stokley will need to continue to prove over the next few weeks that he is not over the hill and can still produce at an NFL level. The player I continue to worry about making this team is Knowshon Moreno. He is currently 4th string, and also dealing with coming back from an ACL injury from last fall. The former first round pick is behind McGahee, Ball, and Hillman, as these upcoming preseason games are enormous for his chances of even being on this team come September. We should find out plenty about his desire to stay here in the next week or two. Virgil Green being listed ahead of Julius Thomas at the tight end position is another message-sender in my opinion. Thomas has a world of talent as a pass catcher, but must prove to be a good blocker to earn a roster spot and time on the field.
It is still extremely early, and obviously no games have been played just yet. There is still quite a bit of time, during camp and in these August games, for guys to make a statement about being part of this team this year. For a few players, the next couple of weeks will be do or die. Will they be joining Peyton in his quest for a trip to the Super Bowl, or end up watching him and his teammates on TV with the rest of us?
Denver Sports by J Simp
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