Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Former Broncos look for success elsewhere in 2010

Almost 50 percent (approximately 43.4 %) of the 2009 Denver Broncos will play for a new team in the NFL, or not play at all in 2010. Among the players who will not be playing in Denver again this season are:
  • Andra Davis. After seven years of being Cleveland's Man in the Middle, Davis came to Denver as a free agent last off-season. In 2009, he started in 13 games, totaling 90 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Denver unexpectedly released him earlier this year. With Spencer Larsen expected to see more time at fullback, Mario Haggan will probably move to the inside in Davis' vacant position. Andra has moved on the Buffalo - where the Bills are transitioning into the 3-4 defense Denver used last season. Davis joins Kawika Mitchell and Paul Posluszny as Buffalo's inside 'backers, and is expected to compete for playing time.

  • Vonnie Holliday. Holliday joined the Broncos defense last season with 11 years of playing experience. Vonnie would prove to become a vital situational player for the Broncos. While starting in only 3 games, and playing in all 16, Holliday led the Broncos defensive line with five sacks, and 10 QB hurries, second to only Elvis Dumervil, who had 20 QB hurries and seventeen sacks. Holliday will turn 35 years-old this fall, and was released by the Broncos. He signed with the Washington Redskins, and should continue to be a great situational player for the rest of his career.

  • Brandon Marshall. At times in 2009 it seemed Brandon Marshall was Kyle Orton's only Wide Receiver, catching passes left and right. In his 3rd straight 1,000 yard, 100-catch season, Marshall even broke an NFL record with 21 catches in one game - a game Denver lost. For multiple reasons though, Marshall was not happy in Denver. The Broncos traded him to the Dolphins before the draft. In Miami, Marshall will be the new #1 WR, and is predicted to have a very productive season.

  • Chris Simms. After a disappointing run with the Buccaneers, and short stint with the Titans, Simms signed with the Broncos as a back up QB. Not much was expected of Simms, until Jay Cutler was traded. With Orton's mediocre performance, Simms become a popular option. When called upon, Simms failed miserably, earning a 15.1 QB rating. After trading for Brady Quinn, the Broncos released Simms. Twenty-nine year-old Simms signed again with the Titans, where he will no doubt be a back-up.

  • Peyton Hillis. Hillis was drafted by the Broncos in the 7th round of the 2008 NFL Draft. Although he wasn't expected to even play, Hillis had an amazing rookie year, leading the team in rushing yards, before suffering an injury. Despite his rookie season, McDaniels never really took advantage of Hillis' skill, starting him in only two games. While not using him as a tailback, and making Spencer Larsen the fullback, Denver had no use for Hillis. In exchange for Brady Quinn, the Broncos traded Hillis to the Browns. Hillis is out to prove the Browns got the better end of the deal, and should see the field a lot this year.

  • Ben Hamilton. Hamilton spent the last eight years on the Broncos offensive line, playing both guard and center. He thrived in Mike Shanahan's zone blocking scheme, but struggled last year in the new scheme. He starting in 8 games, allowing 3.5 sacks, with 4 holding penalties and 2 false starts. In the midst of revamping the O-line, and the entire offense, Denver released Hamilton. He signed with the Seattle Seahawks, where he may start at guard.

  • Casey Wiegmann. Thirty-seven year-old Weigmann has been through a lot in his long NFL career, playing for 5 teams in 15 years. He spent the last two seasons with the Broncos, making the Pro Bowl in 2008. In 32 games started for Denver, Weigmann only allowed 3 sacks, and was penalized only seven times. The whole offensive line functions around the center; the position is very underrated. The Broncos released Weigman, and signed with the Chiefs - where he played for 7 years before coming to Denver. Weigmann will proved good depth for Kansas City, and possibly even start.

  • Tony Scheffler. From 2007 to 2008, Scheffler caught over 100 catches for over 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also leads all Tight Ends in yards-per-reception since he entered the league. But with McDaniels his stats fell, catching only 31 passes last season, and scoring a career low only two touchdowns. He was benched along with Marshall in the season finale last year, before being traded to Detroit. Although he is currently nursing a foot injury, Scheffler should put up good statistical numbers for the Lions this fall, as the starting Tight End.

  • Ryan Torain. Torain joined the Broncos in 2008, but back injuries kept him from performing. He only played in one game, rushing for 69 yards and a TD before further injuring his knee. The Broncos released Torain last off-season, he then sat out the 2009 season. Torain was one of Mike Shanahan's projects, that explains why the Redskins (now coached by Shanahan) picked up Torain. While in college at Arizona State, Torain put up big numbers and showed a lot of potential. At the Redskins OTA's, Willie Parker and Ryan Torain appear to be rotating with the third team. If he makes the team, Torain could thrive in Shanahan's backfield committee approach.
There are many more players who have moved on, the 9 players listed above are just the ones I found the most intriguing. We wish all them the best with their new teams. While reading about players no longer on the team may be depressing, there are many reasons to be excited about the 2010 season. Just as many players that left, will be brought in. Denver has brought in over 20 rookies, and a large group of free agent signees. The Broncos are entering 2010 with much optimism and potential.

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