Sunday, September 26, 2010

Orton's career best not enough in loss to Colts

(Associated Press) DENVER -- Peyton Manning threw for three touchdowns even without Anthony Gonzalez and Pierre Garcon and the Indianapolis Colts beat the crestfallen Denver Broncos 27-13 Sunday.

The Broncos (1-2) were playing with heavy hearts following the death of teammate Kenny McKinley on Monday.

Kyle Orton threw for a career-best 476 yards on 37-of-57 passing and the Broncos outgained the Colts (2-1) by more than 100 yards. But they failed to get into the end zone on five trips inside the 20-yard line, settling for two field goals and turning over the ball on downs three times.

Colts receiver Austin Collie caught 12 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns in place of Garcon (hamstring), and Blair White, playing because Gonzalez has a high ankle sprain, caught a touchdown pass one day after being promoted from the practice squad.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Blogger Blitz 5.0: Addressing the run game

After the Broncos first two games, it's clear they have some issues in the running game, both stopping it on defense, and making it an effective part of the offense. To discuss this subject in our 5th Blogger Blitz, we welcome in Sayre Bedinger of Mile High Report, Bryan Douglass of Broncos Stable, and Ian Henson of The Orange Page.

I first asked Sayre why Knowshon Moreno, who shows streaks of greatness and nifty moves, is struggling so much, especially in short yardage, averaging 2.8 yards a carry and just 50 yards rushing a game? Then I preceeded to inquire of Ian why the run defense has looked so vulnerable at times, and what can the Broncos do to address it? Lastly, I asked Bryan to grade the offensive line through the first two weeks of play. Here are the fellas answers:

Sayre --Why is Knowshon Moreno struggling so much?

That question is actually pretty simple. Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter are both struggling because the Broncos are just not a good run blocking offensive line right now, and won't be until their offensive line is fully healthy and they can start building some cohesiveness up front.

It's not because of Moreno's fault, though some of it could be attributed to rust from missing most of training camp and all of the pre-season, but he is running hard and I like what I have seen out of him. One thing I've noticed is Moreno's abilities in the passing game. I think he will take a ton of snaps away from Buckhalter throughout the season because he's shown an ability to catch passes, while Buckhalter had three drops in a row in the Seattle game.

As for his ability to run the ball, I think you can look at a few different things in regards to the yards per carry ordeal. It took the Broncos three runs to get Moreno in from one yard out at one point, and their running in the second half, particularly at the end of the game when they were trying to run out the clock, was putrid.

Seattle did a great job of bottling up Frank Gore in their week one performance as well, and then you saw Gore bust out a good performance against the New Orleans Saints. I think Moreno played well in the first game against Jacksonville on limited carries, gaining four yards per touch, and I think as the season progresses, he will continue to get better.Again, I don't think it's so much a deficiency of Moreno's as it is the line's inability to run block very effectively right now at all. You see our biggest runs coming off the outside where we have Graham, Quinn, or Gronkowski getting guys on the edgs, and allowing Moreno to use his burst and quickness in more open space.

Ian -- Run defense, the run defense has looked really vulnerable at times, what can the Broncos do to address it?

On paper the Broncos defense is bottom tier in the NFL (22nd overall), their run defense does have a lot to do with it. It looks like the easiest thing to blame, but how soon we forget. In the Broncos game against Jacksonville, Jaguars' quarterback David Garrard threw for three touchdowns; Maurice Jones-Drew, one of the best backs in the NFL, rushed for less than 100-yards.

This isn't the 2005 Denver Broncos defense, it looks like the team is again focused on a bend, but don't break philosophy (BBDBP). Here's a bit of information on the BBDBP, in this defense the goal is to not allow anymore than four yards per play. The philosophy being that an offense will need to put up 20 good plays in a row without a score. They burn themselves up, burn themselves out and your defense pounces when there's a mistake. This defense is of course very dependent on the defensive players having little to no mistakes themselves.

So keep that in mind when observing Denver's run defense. Yes, it may look like it is struggling, but more than likely it's exactly what Josh McDaniels is going for.

Bryan -- The offensive line after two weeks... forced to give a grade, I'd have to say "Incomplete". To be fair, it's WAY too early to put forth a grade. However, for the Broncos it is especially difficult to determine how the line is doing. Those two games offer flip sides of the same coin.Against the Jags the Broncos were atrocious, giving up three sacks on 11 quarterback hits. Defenders were in the pocket all day long, and while Orton pulled it together for a respectable individual performance, the results were disappointing.

Against the Seahawks the Broncos allowed only one sack on one quarterback hit. I'm not sure how much credit the offensive line gets for those numbers, but it certainly appears to be a performance worthy of praise... and again, the results speak for themselves.

Put it all on the rearview, put the numbers away, and I come away with three bullets based on observation:- The guard positions are still a point of concern and they remain unsettled. At this poing I'd have to say it's a position being run by committee... we've seen rookie Zane Beadles line up at three different positions including (if I'm corrrect in my notes) both guard spots and at right tackle. Stanley Daniels is getting starts at left guard and seems to have tied down Josh's respect there (at least for now). Chris Kuper, the leader of the pack, was supposedly healthy but aggravated his injured knee in Week 1, he failed to contribute in Week 2, and we have no idea where he's at heading towards Week 3 except to say all signs indicate it's not getting better any time soon. I labeled this as one of the top concerns heading into the season and it continues to cause headaches, especially when you consider...

- The Broncos can't run the football. They are averaging a woeful 2.4 yards per carry, they have yet to break a run over 20 yards, and the running backs have been the most injured part of a roster dealing with durability woes on all fronts. Worst of all, I'm not sure the Broncos have seen a true test from a capable run defense yet. The Jags haven't relinquished a single individual performance of note on the ground, but the Chargers averaged 5.0 yards per carry against 'em last week... and Ryan Mathews was only around for five carries before he left with injury. This team has dedicated a ton of time and more than a few dollars to running the football and thus far they are failing to bring it to fruition. Take a look at the upcoming schedule and I doubt you would come running (bad pun, sorry) to suggest they'll improve.

- At this very moment, rookie center J.D. Walton is the best offensive lineman on the team... and yes, I'm including Ryan Clady in the discussion. Like it or not the vaunted left tackle hasn't done so well in the Josh McDaniels system. He was schooled by Tamba Hali (twice) and Richard Seymour last season, he relented 2.5 sacks in Week 1 versus Jacksonville, and he continues to battle for health. Walton, on the other hand, has been every bit as good as advertised... if not better. He's still limited in his defensive recognition contributions (something that needs to improve for the Broncos to avoid the repeated second-half slide this year) but the kid is doing a wonderful job of anchoring the point, of working down the field with the play to contribute when the Broncos do get the ball past the line of scrimmage, and he's been a key source of force on the goal line. I discussed this recently with your buddy Kyle (of BroncoTalk) and we agree... as it stands today, Walton is the shining star of Josh McDaniels era of drafting football commodities for the Denver Broncos.We will see, Jon... it's cliche to throw health out there as the crutch of hope, but that's the reality for this offensive line. They need Ryan Harris back and healthy. They need Kuper back and healthy. They need Clady healthy and performing at the level we know he can achieve. If they can pull those fates together, we MIGHT see an improved effort to run, and thus we might see the Broncos avoid the same downfalls that produced last season's frustrating end.

After all... the division certainly looks wide open, but we still have a ton of football to play.

A big thanks to the guys for taking the time to share your expertise! Be sure to check out there blogs for more insightful Bronco news and notes!

Photos in this post were used courtesy of Getty Images and Paul Cloud Photography.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Kenny McKinley: 1987-2010

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos are deeply saddened after being informed of the death of Kenny McKinley.

The organization has no additional information to share at this time other than the statements below by Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen and Head Coach Josh McDaniels.

Coach McDaniels will be available to the media on Tuesday at 12 p.m. at the team’s training facility.

Statement from Denver Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen:
Everyone with the Broncos is shocked and saddened by the loss of Kenny McKinley. He was part of the Broncos’ family and will be greatly missed by our organization. My most heartfelt condolences go out to Kenny’s family and friends.”

Statement from Denver Broncos Head Coach Josh McDaniels:

“Kenny had a promising future on the football field, but more importantly, he was a great teammate whose smile and personality could light up the room. This is a tragic loss for our football team, and his family is in all of our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”
McKinley, a wide receiver, was selected by the Broncos in the fifth round (141st overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft from the University of South Carolina. He attended South Cobb High School in Austell, Ga.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to McKinley's family, friends and teammates.

The above article was the official press release sent out by the Broncos.

Miss me much? Former Broncos seeking success elsewhere

Even though Kyle Orton has been on fire, leading the Broncos in a rout of the Seahawks, the Broncos have gotten little attention in the media world. Rather, Dallas, Minnesota, and the Jay Cutler-led Bears have grabbed most of the headlines.

A few former Broncos have been getting some media attention however. So to continue the 'beating a dead horse' phenomenon, here's a look at some former Broncos playing elsewhere and how the Broncos have fared without them:

Tim Crowder, DE. Through two games in 2010 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Crowder has recorded 5 tackles, including 2 sacks and a forced fumble, complimenting the Bucs' pass rush. The replacement(s): With Elvis Dumervil out for the season, the Broncos have asked OLB's Robert Ayers and Jarvis Moss to step up and get to the quarterback. In the Broncos season opener, Ayers recorded a sack followed by Moss notching one last Sunday against the Seahawks. That comes to 2.0 more sacks than the two players recorded last season alone, combined. While having a DE that could apply some pressure would be nice for the Broncos (especially considering that is one of the team's biggest weaknesses), Crowder never panned out for the Broncos and they have found other ways to apply the pressure.

Jay Cutler, QB. The Bears have started out 2-0 and Cutler has thrown for over 600 yards 5 scores. He has, however, been sacked 5 times and intercepted once. Kyle Orton on the other hand has been just as solid, if not more consistent. Orton has been nearly mistake-free and has led the Broncos high powered offense. I believe it's safe to say nobody in Denver is missing Cutler right now.

Andra Davis, ILB. Through two games with the Buffalo Bills, Davis had recorded 15 tackles while starting at inside linebacker. For the Broncos, Inside 'backers D.J. Williams and Mario Haggan have both totaled 10 or more tackles, playing key roles in the Broncos defense. Denver's run defense is hurting, but Davis' absence most likely isn't the cause for that, and a few of the Broncos linebackers have already outperformed Davis this season.

Peyton Hillis, RB/FB. Cleveland has fallen in love with Hillis, much like Bronco fans did in his rookie season in which he lead the team in rushing yards. Hillis has rushed for 76 yards (4.5 average) and two scores in two games for the Browns. The Broncos rushing attack, however, hasn't fared very well. While Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter have combined for 3 scores, the Broncos rushing attack has concerned me. Knowshon hasn't rushed for well over 50 yards yet this season and is averaging 2.8 yards a carry, ranking the Broncos 27th in the NFL in rushing yards per game. It is unclear why but Head Coach Josh McDaniels and Hillis apparently clashed from day one, ultimately leading to Hillis being traded. To date, that move seems to have been a mistake by the Broncos. Denver has a capable fullback in Spencer Larsen as far as lead-blocking goes, but when it comes to 3rd and short and goal line situations there isn't a running back in Denver I have much faith in to get the job done. Perhaps the acquisition of Laurence Maroney will aid the Broncos rushing attack, or perhaps not.

Tony Scheffler, TE. Entering week three, Scheffler hasn't had much of an impact for the Lions (7 catches for 48 yards) and neither have the Broncos' tight ends. The Broncos offense does not utilize pass-catching tight ends, so Scheffler hasn't been missed in Denver's offense so far.

Brandon Marshall, WR. You should never trade a Pro Bowl WR huh? Well, that amazing receiver scored as many touchdowns during his last three years in Denver as Randy Moss did in one season (23). And through the Dolphins first two games he hasn't scored once. Marshall has snatched 12 catches for 124 yards - which is little production when you consider how many times he is targeted. The Broncos passing offense has actually improved now that Marshall has moved on; Orton has been spreading the ball around more. Two Bronco receivers have caught over 160 yards (Eddie Royal and Brandon Lloyd), and three Broncos have caught 5 passes for 50 yards or more (Jabar Gaffney, Knowshon Moreno, and Demaryius Thomas) through the first two weeks of play. Rookie Thomas and veteran Lloyd have provided the deep threat, Eddie Royal the big play, and Gaffney has been Mr. Reliable. The Broncos receivers have scored 3 more touchdowns than Marshall, and 5 have a better yards-per-catch averages than Marshall's 10.3. There's no doubt in anyone's mind the Broncos have easily replaced Marshall's production.

Overall the Broncos have replaced some key starters from previous seasons very smoothly, adding depth and character over a few stars.

Side note: Broncos Zone is now part of the Bringing The House Sports Network! Be sure to check them out at!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Broncos beat down Seahawks, 31-14

Official Press release via the Denver Broncos seen below:

The Broncos won their 11th straight home opener on Sunday afternoon, knocking off Seattle, 31-14, at INVESCO Field at Mile High.

In front of a sellout crowd, the Broncos jumped out to a 17-0 lead to take control and kept the pressure on their NFC West visitors throughout to earn their first win of the season.

Kyle Orton paced the offense, completing 25-of-35 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns, good for a 117.2 quarterback rating. Demaryius Thomas finished with a game-high eight catches for 97 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut. Champ Bailey, Brian Dawkins and Perrish Cox nabbed interceptions for the Denver defense.

For complete analysis of the game, including highlights from Broncos TV, visit

The team returns to INVESCO Field at Mile High next Sunday, Sept. 26, to host the Colts. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. MDT.
More photos, videos and notes to follow.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Around the web: Broncos add depth to back field

The Broncos on Tuesday annouced that they had traded a 4th round draft pick to the New England Patriots in exchange for Running Back Laurence Maroney and a 6th round draft pick in the 2011 NFL draft.

Maroney now joins fullback Spencer Larsen, backs Knowshon Moreno, Correll Buckhalter and Lance Ball in the Broncos back field. To make room for Moroney on the 53-man roster, Denver released Andre Brown, a second-year pro who was selected by the Giants in the fourth round last year from North Carolina State University.

In my opinion, this was a good move by the Broncos, and a great value trade. The Broncos gave up one draft pick in exchange for another and a solid, experienced yet young (25) running back. While he hasn't done anything too flashy, Maroney did rush for 2,430 yards and score 22 touchdowns in a four year stint with the Pats, while also contributing in the passing game as well. It's been noted that Maroney's skills weren't utilized properly in New England, and he now gets a fresh start in Denver, in a role that should suit him better. If nothing else, Maroney can teach the other Bronco running backs how to get through tight holes.

The Broncos also made a few other roster transactions on Tuesday, officially releaseing reciever Brandon Stokley and signing OL Jeff Stehle and LB Titus Brown to the practice squad. The club also released linebacker Worrell Williams (D.J. Williams litter brother) from it's practice squad.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Broncos start off season 0-1

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Tim Tebow was a non-factor. The Denver Broncos can't say the same about David Garrard.

Garrard threw three touchdown passes, two to tight end Marcedes Lewis, and the Jaguars beat the Broncos 24-17 on Sunday in a season opener that Jacksonville called one of the most important in franchise history.

Garrard completed 16 of 21 passes for 170 yards. A big chunk of those went Mike Thomas, who caught six passes for 89 yards. Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 98 yards on 23 carries.

The Jaguars, coming off a 7-9 season in which they blacked out nine of 10 home games, needed to get off to a good start to keep fans in the seats and eliminate more talk about relocation.

Tebow's debut made a victory even more imperative, especially since some Jaguars fans clamored for the former University of Florida star.

The Broncos wasted little time getting Tebow on the field in his hometown.

Tebow, who grew up in Jacksonville, entered on the third play. He gained 1 yard on a quarterback keeper. He returned two plays later and lined up at receiver. Tebow picked up another yard on his second carry, this one coming in the second quarter.

Tebow spent the rest of the game on the sideline. Kyle Orton was much more effective -- at least until the fourth quarter.

Orton was 21-of-33 passing for 295 yards and one touchdown with one interception. Orton's fourth-down pass to Brandon Lloyd in the corner of the end zone was ruled incomplete with 4:41 remaining. Lloyd, who caught five passes for 117 yards, didn't get two feet down.

The Broncos forced a punt, but their comeback attempt failed when Daryl Smith picked off Orton's pass near midfield with 46 second left.

Denver might not have been behind had it not been for defensive end Ryan McBean's two costly penalties. McBean was flagged twice for grabbing Jones-Drew's face mask on the winning drive. The Jaguars used the extra 30 yards to move 83 yards in seven plays, capping the drive with Garrard's 24-yard strike to Kassim Osgood.

Osgood was flagged for celebrating, a penalty that gave the Broncos good field position. Orton got them down to the Jacksonville 14, but his third-and-3 pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and his fourth-down throw was too far outside for Lloyd to catch.

Neither team scored until the final minute of the first half.Garrard completed consecutive passes to Thomas and Lewis, the second a 21-yarder for a score. Lewis made a nice move to reach the end zone with 50 seconds left.

Apparently, that was too much time left on the clock for Denver. The Broncos went 74 yards in four plays, including a 41-yard pass play to Lloyd.

The game was a back-and-forth affair from there.

Denver looked as if it would wilt in stifling heat and humidity -- it was 93 degrees with a heat index of 105 -- but a thunderstorm cooled things considerably in the third quarter. The game was suspended 33 minutes because of lightning.

Officials sent players, coaches and staff members off the field at the start of the fourth quarter.

The break seemed to work in Denver's favor. The temperature dropped to 78 degrees, and the Broncos moved right down the field to tie it at 17. But Orton couldn't get it done down the stretch.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

I would like to apologize for not posting often (at all) over the past few days (and weeks), I've been busier than ever. Hopefully things will slow down for me and I can get back on top of things. I even missed a lot of the game today, but did notice (a) the offense and Kyle Orton can move the ball, as Orton has the 2 minute drill down pat, while (b) the offense clearly missed RT Ryan Harris as rookie Zane Beadles should struggles most notably on Denver's last offensive play when Orton was nearly sacked by Aaron Kampman, who burned the O-line all afternoon. Do a better job of protecting Orton, and eliminate the dumb mistakes and Denver starts 1-0 apposed to 0-1.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Broncos trim roster to 53 players.

On Saturday, the Broncos finished bringing back their roster from 75 to 53 players, a process which they had started on Friday by releasing defensive tackle Chris Baker, linebackers Jammie Kirlew and Johnny Williams, tight ends Kory Sperry and Nate Overbay, offensive lineman Paul Duncan. Star linebacker Elvis Dumervil and running back LenDale White were put on the Injured Reserve list, which ends the season for them.

The first player released on Saturday was linebacker and special teams stand out Darrell Reid. Though Reid, who is still recovering from knee surgery, was eligible to start the season on the PUP-list, the Broncos were unwilling to guarantee his $1.7 million salary which is required for players who start the season on PUP. Brandon Stokley was placed on IR, and he will be released once he has recovered from his groin injury.

The most surprising cut of the day was defensive end Jarvis Green, who signed a four year contract with the team worth close to $12 million back in April of this year. Green had been irrelevant all offseason and saw his spot on the defensive line claimed by Ryan McBean back in June. The move showed that performance, not financial considerations, is the only factor that Josh McDaniels and Brian Xanders consider in the cutting process.

In another unexpected move, the Broncos traded second year cornerback Alphonso Smith to the Detroit Lions, and received tight end Dan Gronkowski and an undisclosed draft pick in return. Smith got stuck in a crowded backfield behind rookies Perrish Cox, Syd'Quan Thompson and Cassius Vaughn, who all looked promising in the preseason, and the team found a way to use him by trading for a position of need, tight end. Marquez Branson was injured in the final preseason game against the Vikings, and both Richard Quinn and Daniel Graham have missed time with injuries this preseason. Smith, who failed to live up to the expectations after the team traded a future first round pick to move back into the second round of the 2009 draft to pick him, will likely benefit from a change of scenery.

The other cuts on Saturday included linebacker Kevin Alexander, wide receiver Britt Davis, tight ends Riar Geer and Marquez Branson, safety Kyle McCarthy, offensive lineman Seth Olsen, defensive lineman Jeff Stehle and linebacker Worrell Williams, the brother of D.J. Williams. Some of these players will likely be signed to the Broncos practice squad.

Ben Garland, the undrafted defensive lineman from Air Force, has been placed on the Reserve/Military list. He will have to decide between a career in the NFL, or a career as a pilot in the Air Force.

The current 53 man roster (though this roster might still change if the Broncos claim a player of waivers, in which case they will have to cut another player from this list):

Kyle Orton
Tim Tebow
Brady Quinn

Knowshon Moreno
Correll Buckhalter
Lance Ball
Bruce Hall

Spencer Larsen

Tight Ends
Daniel Graham
Richard Quinn
Dan Gronkowski

Wide Receivers
Jabar Gaffney
Eddie Royal
Demaryius Thomas
Eric Decker
Brandon Lloyd
Matthew Willis

Offensive Line
Ryan Clady
Ryan Harris
Chris Kuper
J.D. Walton
Zane Beadles
Stanley Daniels
Eric Olsen
Russ Hochstein
D'Anthony Batiste

Defensive Ends
Justin Bannan
Ryan McBean
Marcus Thomas
LeKevin Smith

Defensive Tackles
Jamal Williams
Ronald Fields

Inside Linebackers
D.J. Williams
Mario Haggan
Joe Mays
Wesley Woodyard

Outside Linebackers
Robert Ayers
Jarvis Moss
Jason Hunter
Baraka Atkins

Champ Bailey
Andre Goodman
Perrish Cox
Nate Jones
Syd'Quan Thompson
Cassius Vaughn

Brian Dawkins
Renaldo Hill
Darcel McBath
David Bruton

Matt Prater
Britton Colquitt
Lonnie Paxton

(Picture by John Leyba /The Denver Post)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Five Breakout Broncos To Watch For

With the start of the 2010 season only 10 days away, Broncos Zone takes a look at five Broncos who could be looking for breakout performances this season.

5 - Britton Colquitt
Last year, Colquitt was a Bronco until the final roster cuts, when the team released him and handed the punting job to Brett Kern. Colquitt was waived and signed to the Dolphins' practice squad. Denver did like what they saw during the preseason of 2009, so they signed him back to the active roster on December 30th. While his preseason performance was not enough to get him the job last season, this year the competition ended on June 15th when the Broncos released fellow punter A.J. Trapasso. Colquitt, who has 3 relatives who were successful punters in the NFL (brother Dustin, father Craig and uncle Jimmy), has shown a lot of improvement compared to last year, when his punting average was 41 yards. This season his average is up 10 yards, to 51. Like last year, his punts have great hang time, which makes it harder for opposing teams to return them. Colquitt has a solid grip on the punting job, and can establish his name in the NFL alongside his family members with a breakout season.

4 - Knowshon Moreno
It should not come as a surprise that 3 of the 5 breakout players on this last were drafted in 2009, the first draft of head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Brian Xanders. While this year’s draft class has gotten fans excited, after strong preseason performances by Perrish Cox, Syd’Quan Thompson and of course the rookies on the offensive line, there are still a lot of question marks surrounding last year’s picks. Knowshon Moreno started last season as the number one running back, but he wore down as the season progressed, and so did his rushing average. Though he has shown to have to have the skills for an NFL back, a full offseason of workouts and conditioning should make the upcoming season a breakout season for Knowshon. Not only should his numbers improve (a 1000+ yard season as well as his first of hopefully many games with 100+ yards rushing), so should his pass protection. Like last year, Moreno was plagued by an injury that kept him out for most of training camp. His ability to stay healthy could be a key to his breakout season, as well as to the Broncos’ success in 2010.

3 - Richard Quinn
With Tony Scheffler traded to the Lions, the Broncos are relying on Quinn as their second tight end going into the season. Mainly known for his blocking skills, Quinn played in 15 games last year but did not record any catches. Though Quinn seemed to struggle a little early in training camp, he has become more consistent in both blocking and passing as training camp went on. Quinn will likely see more targets now as the second tight end on the depth chart, and can hopefully start to show why the second round pick the team spent on him was justified.

2 - Robert Ayers
Robert Ayers joined the Broncos in 2009, being selected 18th overall after a strong senior year at Tennessee (leading the team in sacks and tackles for loss), and an even more impressive performance at the Senior Bowl, earning defensive MVP honors. A defensive end in college, Ayers was asked to move to outside linebacker by the Broncos, a move that took Ayers a while to adjust to. He played in fifteen games in his rookie season, only starting one. The most memorable play came against the Steelers when he returned a fumble for a touchdown, but he failed to record any sacks in his first year. This season, after Dumervil’s injury, Ayers will be counted on as the primary pass rusher and his performance in the preseason has shown he has definitely progressed, recording a half sack against Detroit and two sacks against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Though it will be tough for Ayers to match Dumervil’s production, he has shown he is on his way up, and will be counted on by the team to have a major impact pass rushing this year.

1 - Jarvis Moss
If I had not followed the Broncos during the offseason, the news that Jarvis Moss was the first player in line to replace Elvis Dumervil after he got injured during training camp would have worried me a lot. But the Jarvis we’ve seen this year is different from the Jarvis we have seen in previous seasons. Drafted with the 17th overall pick in 2007 by Mike Shanahan, Moss has not lived up to the expectations that come with being a first round pick.
Totaling 24 tackles and 3,5 sacks over 2 seasons, Moss left training camp in 2009 while contemplating retirement, but decided to return to the team after 2 days, and many people were surprised he made the 53-man roster at the start of the season. Now, one year later, Moss has been one of the most impressive players during the off-season, and is said to have increased his effort in the weight room and the conditioning program. With Elvis Dumervil out, Moss will see a lot of playing time opposite of 2nd year linebacker Robert Ayers, and both players will have to step up if the Broncos want to be successful in pass defense like they were last season. Though Moss broke a bone in his right hand during training camp, he played in two of the three preseason games, with the sack and forced fumble against Detroit being the highlight of his preseason. He looks a lot more comfortable when he is on the field, and faced with extensive playing time, he looks to be poised for a breakout year, and to finally show of the skills that Denver fans have wanted to see from the former Gator since he arrived in the mile high city.

Photos in this post were used courtesy of Paul Cloud, and the Associated Press.