Broncos Update Insider - 7/19

Denver Broncos special-teams coach Scott O'Brien is fine with the group of kickers and punters he has to work with in training camp. Also - seventh round draft pick Peyton Hillis is signed.

Broncos special-teams coach Scott O'Brien is fine with the group of kickers and punters he has to work with in training camp.

There's virtually no experience, but he thinks there's a lot of talent.

"Everybody that has made a name for themselves in this league got an opportunity and made the most of it," O'Brien said. "Somebody will come to the front."

The most pressure will be on kicker Matt Prater, who comes to camp as the favorite to replace Jason Elam, who left for Atlanta this offseason. If he falters, undrafted rookie Garrett Hartley will get the chance to win the job. They're the only two kickers on the roster.

Prater looked good in the offseason, has a little NFL experience (he is 1-of-4 on field-goal attempts) and finished last season on Denver's roster as a kickoff specialist. That gave him the early edge, and has performed well in that situation so far.

"As long as I keep kicking well, I don't see myself losing it, but you never know," Prater said. "He's kicking well too."

At punter, Sam Paulescu is the incumbent and most experienced one on the roster because he punted in one game for the Broncos last year. The other punter is Brett Kern, another undrafted rookie. The Broncos looked at some veterans at punter and kicker, and could add one in preseason, but for now are sticking with the young players.

"It is a little surprising not to have a veteran, but you've got your shot," Paulescu said.

O'Brien liked what he saw from the youngsters in the offseason.

"The strength is there, the physical skills you're looking for are there," O'Brien said. "When they hit the ball, I see it, I hear it, everybody else sees it. That part of the question, I think has been answered. Now, can we do it on a consistent basis and can we do it when it counts?"

CAMP CALENDAR: The Broncos start training camp on July 25, and it ends on Aug. 12. Denver will then hold practices with the Dallas Cowboys on Aug. 13 and 14.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Denver will have 29 training camp practices open to the public. Last year the team drew a record 33,071 fans to training camp.

--The Broncos signed fullback Peyton Hillis, a seventh-round pick. Hillis was highly rated by Denver and could win a starting job with a great training camp.

--Offensive tackle Gary Zimmerman will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 2, and will be presented by Broncos owner Pat Bowlen. Zimmerman still appreciates how Bowlen traded for him when Zimmerman was unhappy with the Vikings in 1993.

"When I went to Denver it's like the dog who gets put to the pound and you get a new owner and the loyalty is to that new owner and the owner treats you good," Zimmerman said. "Coming from where I came from, they didn't treat people quite as well. I thought it was that way across the league, and then to go to Denver and to have your eyes open like that, it was just unbelievable, the respect and dignity."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's probably a little bit unusual having so many young guys and really not a lot of experience." -- Broncos special-teams coach Scott O'Brien on the young players competing for the starting kicker and punter jobs.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

DRAFT CHOICES SIGNED
--RB Ryan Torain (5/139): $198,000 SB, other terms unknown.
--DT Carlton Powell (5/148): $180,000 SB, other terms unknown.
--LB Spencer Larsen (6/183): $97,500 SB, other terms unknown.
--S Josh Barrett (7/220): $1.776M/4 yrs, $56,300 SB; 2008 cap: $309,075.
--FB Peyton Hillis (7/227): Terms unknown.

DRAFT CHOICES UNSIGNED
--OT Ryan Clady (1/12).
--WR Eddie Royal (2/42).
--G/C Kory Lichtensteiger (4/108).
--CB Jack Williams (4/119).



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