New playbook - new challenges

The most important thing for players competing for a starting job in Denver might be coming to training camp with an expert knowledge of the playbook.

That won't be easy. For the offensive players, Josh McDaniels runs a complicated system that can change drastically from week to week. On defense, the Broncos are learning all over again, installing a 3-4 front as their base alignment.

At Denver's first minicamp, held just before the draft, the learning curve was apparent. Players made mistakes, but the coaching staff expected that.

"There's a long way to go, but there were definitely signs of progress every where we were working," McDaniels said. "There were a lot of things taught and installed for the first time."

The Broncos expect progress at upcoming minicamps, and also believe players will be ready to go at the start of training camp. In New England, where McDaniels came from, the Patriots expect smart players who can adjust quickly. That allows coaches more leverage to change schemes during the season.

The players under the most immediate pressure are Kyle Orton and Chris Simms, who are competing to win the starting quarterback job. Orton looked behind at the first minicamp, which was expected because he had only a couple weeks since he was traded from Chicago to Denver.

Simms had some extra time to learn the system, having signed in early March, and looked good at the first minicamp. Orton said he wasn't worried because he was spending a lot of time learning the plays and studying film. He said he'll be up to speed soon.

"It's something new, but the more time you put into it the more you get out of it," Orton said. "I don't think it's going to be a problem come the season."

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