Strides made in mini-camp

This off-season, the Denver Broncos had plenty of new players to break in, an inexperienced quarterback that needed more practice time and a new defensive scheme to implement. By all accounts, the workouts were successful.

So successful, in fact, Broncos coach Mike Shanahan gave the team the final day of its June minicamp off.

The new players, such as running back Travis Henry, tight end Daniel Graham and cornerback Dre Bly, will need to be at full speed before the season opener. They all seemed comfortable in their new environment.

Quarterback Jay Cutler, who is talented but has only five NFL starts, made some strides. His teammates remarked on how few mental mistakes he made during the off-season workouts.

Defensively, the players have a brand new scheme to learn. Assistant head coach/defense Jim Bates brings his own philosophy to the Broncos, but the transition should be smooth. Bates' defense is based on simplicity, so the players should quickly adjust to it.

Rookie to watch: Jarvis Moss -- The Broncos drafted four linemen -- one on offense and three on defense. Until the pads go on in late July, it will be difficult to assess which of the rookies will separate themselves.

Moss, the team's first round pick, is a key for the team this year. The Broncos need him to get a pass rush from the defensive end position.

Sudden impact: Matt Lepsis -- Denver sorely missed Lepsis at left tackle last year. He returned to football activities in late May. He isn't at full speed yet but says he will be by the regular season. Getting him back healthy will be as important as any off-season addition.

With Lepsis back, Erik Pears -- who filled in last year and gained valuable experience -- can move to the right side to replace George Foster, who was traded this off-season.



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