Centennial, CO—Denver Broncos special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis is overseeing one of the team’s most competitive units. Once camp concludes at the end of August, DeCamillis will be asked to select winners in position battles at kicker, punter, and kick returner. He says those positions are all still very much up for grabs.
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“We have a saying called ‘EBDs,’ which is Evidenced Based Decisions,” DeCamillis said, “Every day they walk out here, they’re giving us some evidence. We’re getting a good feel for a lot of the guys that are going to be here. They’re busting it. Some guys are busting it better than others, so those are the guys that are going to have a chance.”
Last season, the Broncos made the unusual decision to carry three kickers, after placekicker Brandon McManus struggled to connect on average and midrange field goals, signing kicker Connor Barth to kick field goals and relegating McManus’ big leg to kick-off duty. This year, DeCamillis said he’s not likely to keep that many legs on the roster.
“We really don’t want to keep four guys,” DeCamillis said, “It stresses your roster other places. We want to have a guy that can kickoff and kick field goals, or a guy that punts and kicks off.”
For laymen, it would appear as if Barth was the clear leader in the kicking competition. However, DeCamillis said the position battle there is much closer than one might think.
“We have to go tabulate everything, but I think it’s separated by about one miss right now. It’s pretty close,” DeCamillis said, “It’s been a good competition so far. We’re trying to keep them at the same spots all the way across. Sometimes that doesn’t work because we have situational things come up. If it’s a hurry-up field goal or if it’s a kick before the half and coach calls him out, it’s a little bit different. For the most part, it’s a pretty close competition right now.”
DeCamillis is also keeping a close eye on the competition for a job returning kicks and punts, which appears to have come down to safety Omar Bolden and wide receivers Isiah Burse and Solomon Patton. Jordan Norwood likely fits in somewhere, as well. DeCamillis says it will be Bolden who’ll get the first shot at the job during the team’s first preseason game in Seattle.
“He’s progressing,” DeCamillis said, “We just have to see what he does in that first game against Seattle. That’s going to be the big tell-tale sign for him. He’s done a good job so far.”
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