Ladies and Gentlemen, if you missed it, the NFL season officially started this past week with the beginning of training camps around the U.S. We have ceremoniously seen the final Sunday of the year without football. The offseason, although this one was rather exciting, has finally come to an end. Your painful web searches for news on your favorite teams and players have finally come to an end. The media is working round the clock to tell you how great Peyton Manning is looking and how in-sync he is with his receivers. No longer is the name of Tebow’s dog “news” but just a bad joke. Celebrate all of Denver for we can all finally stop cringing to the Rockies’ broadcast! If there was a commemorative red ribbon I’d cut it. Seeing as how there’s not, I’ll just say, “TGI…Football.”
But before we can move on through training camp (aka Camp Manning) we must first pay our respects to the fallen heroes who, by being released and signed elsewhere, allowed the Broncos brain trust to sign a future hall of famer by the name of Peyton Manning. We salute you Eddie Royal, we will always remember your first ever NFL game against the Raiders and the thrashing you single handedly gave them…that is until the first game the Chargers play against the Broncos which by then of course we will secretly hope you are injured. Farewell Brodrick Bunkley, we will never forget you…until now when I can’t remember for the life of me what it is you did. Allowing a ridiculous amount of rushing yards on draw plays is the only thing that comes to mind. I would salute Andre Goodman…but he was going to be cut regardless of whether or not manning signed. I also think an honorable mention be given to Brian Dawkins (I say that because, like Goodman, he probably would have retired regardless) who gave his heart and soul into every play and left the field stained with his orange and blue blood. And of course last but not least, a heart-felt fan farewell to Tim the toolman Tebow. Thank you for the ride sir. That must have been one of the most exciting (and frustrating) seasons ever.
With that, we move on to Camp Manning. The Broncos made quite a splash this offseason in free agency regardless of their slow start due to waiting for Manning to announce his decision. Outside of the historical signing of Manning, the Broncos did exactly what they needed to do…improve the team. On paper, this team appears to be capable of competing even without Manning (assuming Caleb Hanie isn’t playing). When the season ended the Broncos’ major needs looked to be DT, CB, S, and well QB. Are those all the needs? No, those are exactly what I said they are… the major needs. But the Broncos addressed every one of those positions via draft and FA. Looking at the roster now, the only obvious major need would be LB thanks to D.J. Williams. But Woodyard is a capable temporary backup. Also, word on the street is that Danny Trevathan is coming along quite nicely.
So as we progress into training camp…sorry Camp Manning…be sure to watch these five things.
1) The cornerbacks. Last year, Goodman was torched by players much faster than him. This year, hopefully one of the CB’s can rise up to successfully play alongside Champ Bailey. Good chance it is Tracy Porter who was signed from the Saints. But the nickel back is a big deal as well. Coaches are high on Chris Harris.
2) The safeties. As much as we all loved Brian Dawkins’ spirit and ambition, the man was actually a liability against good passing teams. He was slower than Goodman and NE made a point to show how much higher their TE’s could jump. With Mike Adams bringing in experience to replace Brian Dawkins, the ball is now passed on to him to mentor the second year safeties. Rahim Moore needs to step up to justify his second round draft status and David Bruton needs to become quicker to prove to everyone that he is a legitimate McDaniels hold over.
3) The Linebackers. This one is a no-brainer. Naturally you want to watch Von Miller. Unfortunately, if you do so, you will miss out on the other side where the competition will be taking place. Danny Trevathan, Wesley Woodyard, and potentially Nate Irving. Trevathan has been tagged as a “draft steal” while Irving was pegged by the coaches as future starting Middle Linebacker. Unfortunately, Irving’s college tape just shows a guy with poor tackling technique and Trevathan is just too small. But, if last season taught us anything, it’s that any player can succeed regardless of how unconventional they might be.
4) The defensive tackles right? Wrong, watch the receivers. We keep hearing that Demaryius Thomas is going to be the number one, but in all fairness, so far Manning seems to like Decker the most. There could be multiple reasons for that. One could be because Decker actually practiced with Manning during the offseason. Also may be because Decker is just a younger version of Stokely. Or it may simply be because Decker is the likely underneath route receiver and Manning does have the arm strength to go over the top. Either way, this should be interesting to see where this goes. It will also be interesting to see if the Broncos really give a roster spot to Stokely.
5) Now the Defensive Tackles? Nope, as important as they’re going to be…you will gain absolutely nothing watching the DT’s in training camp. You’ll either gather that they’re really good/bad or that our offensive line is really good/bad. So do yourself a favor and just pay them no mind. You’re going to be more interested in watching Manning anyways. Who is indeed the 5th thing you should watch. Not so much to see how healthy he is, but to experience the thrill and ride that is Peyton Manning. This could be over quickly with one hit, so enjoy it while you can. Don’t watch the backups…that’ll be more painful than Tebow’s first three quarters of every game. Ok…almost as painful.
Anyways, Manning Camp is underway and along with it…THE NFL! TGI…FOOTBALL!