QUARTERBACK: Starter - Jay Cutler. Backups - Patrick Ramsey.
Cutler is fully healthy this season, after being diagnosed with diabetes in the offseason. Now that he has that under control, he is strong and is poised to have a big season. He dropped about 30 pounds last year dealing with the condition. He didn't feel good and he said he lost the zip on his fastball. He's back to normal going into his third season. Ramsey is a solid backup, although he didn't have a great preseason.
RUNNING BACKS: Starters - RB Selvin Young. Backups - RB/FB Michael Pittman, RB Andre Hall, FB Peyton Hillis.
Young is the starter, but Hall has carved out a role for himself. He will probably share some carries and should start the season as the goal-line back. Both Young and Hall have big-play ability. Pittman has some versatility but won't be a factor for carries, at least right away. Hillis is an impressive blocker and receiver.
TIGHT END: Starter - Daniel Graham. Backups - Nate Jackson, Tony Scheffler (injured).
Graham is the starter, but the second tight end will play a lot in the passing game.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters - Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal (injured). Backups - Brandon Stokley, Darrell Jackson, Glenn Martinez.
Marshall is a star in the making, and could be the best receiver in the NFL. Royal has been a surprise as a rookie and he earned a starting spot. That came at the expense of Jackson and Colbert, two veteran free-agent additions who didn't make a big impact in training camp. Royal has good speed and picked up the offense surprisingly fast. Stokley will stay in the slot this year, and will be a reliable target for Cutler.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Starters - LT Ryan Clady, LG Ben Hamilton, C Casey Wiegmann, RG Chris Kuper, RT Ryan Harris. Backups -, C/G Kory Lichtensteiger, T Erik Pears, T Tyler Polumbus.
The Broncos are young on the line, as both tackles have never started an NFL game entering 2008. Clady is a rookie, Denver's first-round pick. Kuper has started only a little more than a half of a season. The Broncos like the line though, even though some growing pains have to be expected. The Broncos did sign Casey Wiegmann as veteran insurance at center.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Starters: LDE John Engelberger, DT Marcus Thomas, DT Dewayne Robertson, RDE Elvis Dumervil. Backups - DE Jarvis Moss, DE Tim Crowder, DT Nic Clemons, DE Ebenezer Ekuban, DT Josh Shaw.
The Broncos hope Robertson's knees hold up, and young players like Dumervil, Thomas, Moss and Crowder continue to improve. Moss and Crowder didn't make a move up the depth chart in camp but could become a big part of the rotation as the year goes on. Thomas did make a move in camp, securing a starting spot. He has a bright future. The Broncos need to find some pass rushers to go with Dumervil, who should reach double digits in sacks.
LINEBACKERS: Starters - WLB D.J. Williams, MLB Nate Webster, SLB Boss Bailey. Backups - Niko Koutouvides, Jamie Winborn, Wesley Woodyard, Louis Green.
Williams and Webster switched, with Webster going to the middle and Williams moving to the outside. Both are back in their natural positions now and should play better this year. As the third starter, Bailey is a big improvement over Ian Gold. Koutouvides lost a position battle with Webster, but will be a key special-teams player. Winborn is a solid backup, Woodyard played very well in his rookie preseason.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters - CB Champ Bailey, SS Marquand Manuel, FS Marlon McCree, CB Dre' Bly. Backups - CB Karl Paymah, CB Jack Williams, S Calvin Lowry, S Vernon Fox.
Manuel and McCree are brand new starters. McCree went in the starting lineup when John Lynch asked for his release, then Manuel worked his way to the first team when Abdullah missed some time in camp with a groin injury. Manuel, who will play often in the box to support the run, will start the season playing with a cast on his broken thumb. Bailey is a top corner and Bly is a good No. 2 cornerback.
SPECIALISTS: K Matt Prater, P Brett Kern, LS Mike Leach, KR/PR Eddie Royal, KR Andre Hall.
Prater showed off a huge leg in training camp, hitting a 68-yarder in practice with plenty of room to spare. Leg strength isn't an issue, but consistency is. Royal might see his return opportunities limited now that he is a starter. He and Hall have lined up deep to return kickoffs.
Positional Analysis: Denver Broncos
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