With the complete absence of the preseason and a much shorter training camp, every practice will be especially crucial for players on the roster bubble and those in a competition for a starting position.
Here’s a list of five Broncos, who are facing what should be an especially pivotal training camp for them.
Tight end is one of the most crowded position groups on the Broncos. They currently have seven players there, only four of which will make the final roster, but considering Noah Fant, Nick Vannett and Albert Okwuegbunam’s roster spots have already been solidified, only one spot is up for grabs.
That places Jake Butt squarely on the roster bubble, in what might be his last chance at realizing his NFL dream. He’ll have to outshine Andrew Beck, who played well last season and offers more versatility; Austin Fort, who appeared to be a diamond in the rough last training camp before tearing his ACL; and Troy Fumagalli, who is also on his last leg with the team.
Josey Jewell finds himself in a very similar position to Butt, as the Broncos currently have six inside linebackers, are unlikely to carry more than four on the final roster, and all but one of those spots are locked up by Alexander Johnson, Todd Davis and Justin Strnad.
Strnad was drafted in part to take Jewell’s job this season as the starting inside linebacker, which means Jewell will have to prove his value on special teams to stick around. That will be difficult considering his main competition for the job is Joe Jones, who was a captain on special teams for the Broncos last season.
Phillip Lindsay‘s spot on the final roster isn’t in question, but whether or not he’ll be starting is very much still up in the air, following the off-season addition of Melvin Gordon. Also, based on the contract the Broncos gave Gordon, Gordon should be considered the favorite to win that starting job.
It’s a very similar position to where Lindsay found himself last year, as reports leaked that Denver wanted Royce Freeman to take the majority of the team’s carries. Lindsay quickly put a stop to that notion by outshining Freeman in training camp, the preseason, and the regular season, but his competition in 2020 will be much more difficult. This time he has to duel a Pro Bowl-caliber running back, and it’s a contract year for Lindsay, making the battle that much more important.
Like Lindsay, DaeSean Hamilton isn’t battling for a roster spot, but he is battling for what might be his last shot at a starting job, following Denver’s off-season addition of three rookie wide receivers. He’ll have to fend off Tim Patrick and K.J. Hamler to earn a spot in the starting lineup alongside Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy.
One thing on Hamilton’s side is momentum, because although he struggled mightily through the first 11 weeks of the 2019 season, his numbers spiked once Drew Lock took over at quarterback. Down the stretch, Hamilton’s production more than tripled and he looked like an excellent complement to Sutton. That said, considering Jeudy’s experience in the slot, Patrick might be the more natural fit next to Denver’s two young starters.
Isaac Yiadom has had an up-and-down start to his NFL career, as last season saw him elevated to a starting cornerback job, only to be quickly benched, before earning the starting job once again later in the season.
Yiadom is now entering a pivotal third year but will have fewer opportunities than ever, as the Broncos added two cornerbacks this off-season in A.J. Bouye and Michael Ojemudia, and they’ll also have De’Vante Bausby and Bryce Callahan returning from injury. As Bouye and Callahan should be Week 1 starters, that just leaves one starting job for Yiadom to compete for.