Those guys have taken the spotlight, but that doesn’t mean others have not been performing. Many players have been doing good things during training camp, only to be left unmentioned, with the spotlight on others. It is time to take those flying under the radar and bring them to light.
Joe Don Duncan
First up is Joe Don Duncan. The small school prospect has been used in a variety of ways so far in training camp, and has done very well at every single one of them. There have been a couple days he has gotten high praise, but even on days he didn’t he was still doing good things.
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He is a big tight end/fullback hybrid who weighs in at 270 pounds, and is incredibly athletic and versatile. He has shown the ability to catch, block and run very well. He gives a lot of options to the offense and makes it hard for defenses to defend against.
The big question surrounding Duncan is whether the Broncos would consider keeping two of these hybrid players on the 53-man roster. James Casey is already set to make the roster, which is why the question remains with Duncan. That said, the tight end position is not that strong.
Denver has Virgil Green and Owen Daniels as the top two. After that it is a bit of a mess. The versatility of Casey helps, but the versatility of Duncan helps even more. If they keep only four players between tight end and fullback, it should be the four mentioned.
Another reason Duncan should stick around, is because Daniels isn't the best blocker. In short yard situations, Denver can put in Green, Casey and Duncan and have their three best blockers of the group, but keep the option to pass alive. As long as Duncan keeps it up, he will be making this roster.
Jordan Norwood & Bennie Fowler
Next up to talk about are a couple of wide receivers. Both players have had really good camps, but Solomon Patton and Jordan Taylor have been getting all the spotlight. The two players not getting the spotlight are Jordan Norwood and Bennie Fowler. Both have been models of consistency.
They don’t make many mistakes. Both of them have caught just about everything that has been thrown their way. On Friday, Andrew Mason said that Patton stole the show, but Fowler had the best single catch of the day. He has shown great hands and is catching basically everything thrown his way. His consistency has kept him working predominately with the second unit.
As for Norwood, he also has caught just about everything thrown his way. He also has been doing some great things as a punt returner. Norwood also sees a good amount of reps with the first unit, especially with Emmanuel Sanders being held out of practice the last couple days.
He has taken the reps and done good things with them, despite not being in the spotlight. Right now he is set as the fourth receiver, and as long as he stays healthy and keeps up the good and consistent work, that won’t be changing.
As for Bennie Fowler, he has to keep up the good work, and even take a step forward. Right now, he is looking like he is about to be passed by Jordan Taylor and Solomon Patton for the fifth receiver spot.
For this battle, it really comes down to how each of these players perform come game time. They are in a pretty close battle, and someone has to set themselves apart from the others.
Now to the defensive side of the ball for the next under radar performer. Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett has been really impressive, and with Lerentee McCray having missed a few days, Barrett saw an increased workload. Similar to a year ago when he was rookie, Barrett is showing a complete skill-set.
The proper term for Barrett is a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. So far in training camp, he has applied good pressure rushing the quarterback and has been a force defending the run. The big step forward that he took has been in coverage. His versatility makes him a valuable player. The more you can do for a team, the more likely you are to make the 53-man roster.
It is early in training camp, but Barrett is making a major case to make the roster. McCray has health concerns going back to his college days, and he has already missed a few days. Barrett has been stable and carries no health concerns, as well as a wider skill-set than McCray.
This is a battle to keep an eye on. McCray has experience that Barrett doesn’t have. However, Barrett has been better in practices and has been able to practice every day. He has been under the radar, but I won’t be surprised if he gets brought out into the spotlight before too long.
That wraps up the under radar performers. Stay tuned for those who are at camp, but are performing like they are not even there.
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