The Denver Broncos have entered the second week of their 2016 training camp practices. It might be the ninth day since camp opened, but Friady's practice was the eighth. The coaches are still focused on improving and figuring out where each player fits on the depth chart.
The Broncos are less than a week away from their opening preseason game vs. John Fox's Chicago Bears. As that day gets closer, we'll have a better understanding of how the depth charts are looking for each respective position.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1688594-mhh-premium-how-you-can-s... It was a nice 74 degrees at Dove Valley today. Perfect weather conditions for practicing an intense, violent sport like football.
“The weather has been perfect," head coach Gary Kubiak said following Friday's pracitice. "We’ve gotten a good reprieve from a weather standpoint. It’s been cool the last couple of days. We’ve been able to get our legs back a bit."
The Broncos will get in one more padded practice before their next day off (Sunday). Then, the focus will be getting ready for Chicago.
Let's get to the news and notes from today.
Competition For WR3 Intense
Although the slot receiver isn't a position traditionally leaned upon in Kubiak's West Coast Offense variant, the competition for Denver's No. 3 wide receiver spot has been fierce since camp began.
The Broncos re-signed Jordan Norwood, last year's primary WR3, and they also returned contributors Bennie Fowler and Cody Latimer. Jordan Taylor, a practice squad holdover from last year, is hot on their tails, consistently making plays and standing out.
“I think they are all doing good things," Kubiak said. "I’m watching Bennie, ‘Sunshine’ [Taylor], Cody and Jordan. You watched today. They are all making plays. It’s extremely competitive and that’s a good thing for us."
There's also a strong group of undrafted rookies, pushing hard from the bottom of the depth chart. Mose Frazier, Durron Neal, Bralon Addison, and Kalif Raymond have all thrown their hats in the ring. And veteran DeVier Posey, a former Kubiak draft pick in Houston, is also fighting hard.
No matter how the competition shakes out, the last couple guys who make the final roster will have to be able to contribute on special teams—both in the return and coverage game.
"Special teams is really competitive because they are all involved," Kubiak said. "Those young kids are doing a good job. Mose made some plays today. Neal’s made some plays; the kid from Oregon [Addison] has made some plays. It’s good group. It’s a good strong group.”
Contributing on special teams is nothing new for Fowler, who earned a spot on the 53-man roster in 2015 by not only standing out on offense, but also in the third phase. He's under no illusions that 2016 will be any different.
“A special teams role is the way I made the team last year and that's the way I'm going to make the team this year," Fowler said Friday. "That's what I plan on doing, special teams and then offense.”
Guys like Fowler and Latimer have an edge over the rookies, because of their experience in Kubiak's system. 2015 might have seen a bastardized version of the Kubiak and Peyton Manning offense, but the Broncos taught Kubiak's scheme.
“Things are a lot smoother," Fowler said. "Just the transition from going from what we did with [Head Coach John] Fox's staff and now Coach Kub's staff, my second year in this offense, I feel really good.”
Don't Sleep On Darrion Weems
I'll be the first to say I didn't see it coming but offensive lineman Darrion Weems is standing out at Broncos camp. Weems went undrafted out of Oregon in 2012 and has spent time with five NFL teams since.
This is actually his second stint with the Broncos, as he was signed to the practice squad in October of 2012. The Dallas Cowboys signed Weems away and now he's back in the Mile High City.
GM John Elway likes his upside and thus far in camp, the 6-foot-5, 310-pounder is making his presence felt. Weems has been a tackle throughout his career, but with the injuries the Broncos have suffered at guard early on in camp, they've kicked him inside.
“He was a tackle, but we’ve brought him inside," Kubiak said. "It’s a lot easier to move from outside in than inside out. We’re trying to take a look at him. He’s a bigger kid than what we’ve been playing with. He’s got good size. We’re just trying to give him an opportunity with [OL] Ty [Sambrailo] and [G] Max [Garcia] missing a little time. We’re going to see if he can compete in there with [G Connor] McGovern and those guys. I think he’s done that.”
Friday marked the second day in a row that Weems earned praise from Kubiak after practice. Depending on how things progress on the health front, this kid might not be going away. Lord knows the Broncos need help anywhere they can get it up front.
Kapri Bibbs Continuing To Push
The Broncos like running back Kapri Bibbs. He's been a bubble player since he was a signed as a college free agent in 2014, spending most of his time on Denver's practice squad.
But Denver has always like his upside and scheme fit in Kubiak's system. Bibbs' issues have been largely mental. To make this year's squad, he needs to not only continue to produce as a runner, but also in pass protection and special teams.
The former CSU Ram seems to be turning the corner, showing consistent improvement across the board.
“He really is [improving]," Kubiak said. "We’re protecting; he’s protecting. That’s been a big issue with him. He is playing well for [Special Teams Coordinator] Joe [DeCamillis], banging for a player every day. That helps the player. I think Kapri is a different kid. He sees an opportunity and he’s taken advantage of it so far.”
Bibbs has to beat out either veteran Ronnie Hillman, or fellow undrafted brethren Juwan Thompson. With Thompson also seeing reps at fullback, there's more opportunity to go around for Bibbs. And he's taking advantage of it.
It'll be interesting to see if Bibbs passes the eye-test when the preseason games roll around.
Gotsis Close To 'Full Go'
The Broncos shocked many in the NFL Draft community when the selected Georgia Tech defensive lineman Adam Gotsis in the second round. The Aussie flew under the radar on Draft Day, especially considering that he was recovering from an ACL tear suffered last October.
With a huge hole to fill in Malik Jackson's old spot at defensive end, the Broncos need Gotsis, who's still relatively new to American football, to navigate his rookie learning curve sooner than is traditionally expected.
Gotsis hasn't been able to take full reps, as the Broncos are easing him back into action. But according to Coach Kubiak, he's getting close.
“He’s about full go right now," Kubiak said. "He’s almost going through the entire practice. I think he’s doing some good things, typical rookie. He’s got a way to go. [Defensive Line Coach] Bill [Kollar] is coaching him hard and trying to get him ready to go. We’ll see. I expect to play next week.”
The ol' coach expects the rookie to see some snaps next week in Chicago, so Broncos fans will soon get a good look at their brand-spanking-new second round draft pick.
With Bill Kollar's tutoring, we might see Gotsis impact Denver's 2016 fortunes more than is expected. Malik Jackson and Derek Wolfe, albeit in their fourth season, respectively, had career seasons last year under Kollar.
If they could take Kollar's influence to the bank, then perhaps Adam Gotsis can too, and sooner than they did.
Broncos Say Goodbye To OG Sam Brenner
Veteran guard Sam Brenner took a scary-bad knock to the head during Sunday's practice. He was diagnosed with a concussion—and a severe one from what I'm told.
The Broncos had high hopes for Brenner this year, who spent half of last season on Denver's active roster, after being claimed off waivers from Miami.
But with the severity of Brenner's concussion, and Denver's lack of bodies at the guard position (injury bug), they had to make a move. Unfortunately, they waived the former Utah Ute Friday.
To replace Brenner's spot on the roster, the Broncos signed Mathu Gibson, an undrafted rookie guard out of Wingate University. The vagaries of camp competition can be harsh, but it creates opportunities for others, like Gibson.
Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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