ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — For the first time in the new season, the Denver Broncos gathered as a team on Monday, beginning their offseason training program. The months since Denver's victory in Super Bowl 50 gave guys time to get away and recharge their batteries.
Some guys, like newcomer quarterback Mark Sanchez, haven't had the luxury of spending too much time away from football. After being traded from the Philadelphia Eagles to Denver, he's had his eye set on winning the Super Bowl champions' starting job.
In an effort to reach out, assert himself as a leader and begin to form chemistry with his teammates, Sanchez invited the Broncos receivers out to a passing camp in California recently.
Emmanuel Sanders was there. What were his first impressions of Sanchez the quarterback?
“A great impression," Sanders said Monday. "I can’t speak for everyone else, but I can speak for myself. I went out to California. I worked out with him. He’s been texting me all the time wanting to hang. Just going out there to California, I can tell he wants to be a leader on this team, he wants to be the quarterback and he wants to be the guy."
The desire to be a locker room leader is great, but what about his work ethic and ability as a quarterback? Can he make the throws? Will he put in the extra work?
"I was impressed by his arm strength," Sanders said. "I was impressed with the throws he was making. I’ve been here around the locker room and he’s been spending extra time in the facility. That’s the type of guy that we need. It’s going to be fun.”
Some have discounted the possibility, but the truth is, Trevor Siemian will have the opportunity to compete with Sanchez, and any other quarterback the Broncos bring in between now and training camp, for the starting job.
Gary Kubiak has talked about the team's expectations for Siemian and his belief that signal-callers usually make the biggest jump in their development between years one and two.
For Siemian, entering his second season, the opportunity couldn't be greater for him to have a true shot at the starting job. There's a lot of speculation about who will start for Denver.
The public conversation is also sparked by the fact that we know the Broncos will acquire two more quarterbacks between now and training camp, likely via the NFL Draft. For his part, Emmanuel Sanders can't worry about that.
“You really don’t think about that," Sanders said. "Right now we’ve got Trevor Siemian and we’ve got Mark Sanchez. That’s all we can focus on. Whatever the guys upstairs do, that’s what they do. Right now our focus is just on the guys in the locker room. It’s a competition. Coach [Gary Kubiak] has said that. We’ve got two good quarterbacks. Both of them big personalities and big arms, and I think they can get the job done. That’s what we’re focused on.”
No matter who ends up as the starting quarterback in 2016, the Denver Broncos are well-positioned to defend their World Championship. With Wade Phillips' No. 1 defense returning most of the key starters and role players, the Broncos will be in each and every game.
“Defense wins championships and they showed it," Sanders said. "I was talking to Mark [Sanchez] and I [said], ‘Listen, you’ve got a bad (good) defense behind you. All you have to do is take care of the football and we’ll win a lot of games.’ I mean that. We’ve got nine starters coming back on our defense.”
And the skill position players are there for whomever wins the starting job. Sanders, Demaryius Thomas, C.J. Anderson, Virgil Green and Jeff Heuerman make up a talented group. Three of those five guys have been to the Pro Bowl.
Even though there's still a long time between now and September 8, Broncos fans should take heart that John Elway was able to nab a veteran like Mark Sanchez who fits the system and has experience competing in the postseason. Let someone else pay Brock Osweiler $72 million for seven starts.
As for Sanders, he's happy being in Denver. He knows he's entering a contract year, but he wants to remain in Denver until he hangs up his cleats.
"I mean this sincerely: The city of Denver has been really good to me," Sanders said. "I want to be a Bronco. I want to be a Bronco for a long time. I want to retire a Bronco. Hopefully everything works out. I’m sure both sides will come to something. We’re going to see how it goes, but right now it’s not about me. It’s about this team and about winning championships, and that’s what I’m focused on.”
Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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