Breathe easy friends. Demaryius Thomas will be around for years to come and most importantly this year. He leads a talented group of wide receivers into training camp but the back end of the depth chart has some questions to be answered.

Wes Welker is gone, the big, pass-catching Julius Thomas is gone and now a third and fourth wide receiver will have to show up this August in order to ease the coaches’ mind as they enter the regular season. Here is a look at the group that will be running wild in September.

The veteran starters

Thomas inked his $70 million deal in the final hour before a franchise tag was to be imposed last Wednesday. As a result, he will be unfettered to perform at a high level and continue to set records for the Broncos. Last week he commented on how he hopes to improve from last season as camp approaches

“I watched some games that I played and there were some where I took a play or two off and missed a couple of blocks. I think that if I do those little things it will make everybody around me better and make me a better player. That’s my main focus right now. Not having drops and to not take any plays off. If I have to take a play off, I should just get out.”

Thomas is a constant professional and as such, he realizes there is always room to improve but it will be tough to outdo his 2014-15 performance. Last season he became only the third receiver in league history with three consecutive seasons with at least 1,400 yards receiving and 10 receiving scores. He reached that feat in 2014 while coming up one game shy of tying the NFL record of eight straight games of 100-yards receiving, held by Calvin Johnson.

In his press conference last week he stated that he is in good health but may take a little time to get back in the swing of things at practice. With big time money comes big time expectations. Thomas has already set his standards on the field high and the scrutiny from everyone around him will be at an all-time high as well.

Emmanuel Sanders will be joining Thomas as the only returning starting receiver. In his first season with the Broncos last year he had career highs in every major receiving category. He will once again be trying to prove himself as one of the league’s elite despite the team’s expected transition to a more balanced attack.

He proved last year that he could be a consistent, reliable target, catching 101 balls and nearly doubling his career best single-season in yardage, totaling 1,404. Although Thomas said last week that he will be a more vocal leader in the locker room, Sanders has been a tremendous leader since his arrival. He preaches hard work and it shows as he is often the last player off of the practice field. Fans will get an up-close look at his routine and workouts at Dove Valley.

The man to watch

Cody Latimer will have an enormous amount of pressure on his shoulders from day one of camp. After flashing some fantastic plays in camp last season in front of the media, Latimer faded into the background when the regular season commenced. This season the team does not have enough options to let him struggle in his sophomore season. His fellow wide receiver Sanders believes he is up for the challenge.

“You talk about a guy that came out with a rookie class last year, which is one of the best rookie classes of all time and they’re not even mentioning his name. I think that he is just feeding off that energy alone,” Sanders said in late May. “I think that he’s ready for his opportunity and I think he’s going to make the most of it.”

His frame, speed and hands fit the mold of what the team will need opposite Thomas and it will allow Sanders to play the slot position where he is most effective. Gary Kubiak and others have stated that it appeared that the mental side of the game delayed Latimer’s progress last year but the hope is that this season the system is simpler and he is a year wiser. Fans maybe looking for more big plays at camp but the coaching staff will be more pleased if he grasps the new system quickly and consistently.

The rest

The stand out from the pack of bench receivers entering camp is clearly Andre “Bubba” Caldwell. He is the only veteran will any length of experience in games but his contract situation may be his biggest obstacle in camp.

Caldwell saw his playing time diminish last season and even on kick returns his performances were less than stellar. His experience with the team gives him a clear advantage over the others as he has played the previous three seasons with the Broncos after four with the Cincinnati Bengals. He suited up every regular season game the past two years as well. However, if other players step up in the return game and make a splash on the second string Caldwell’s $1.55 million salary cap hit maybe too much for the team to keep on the roster for another season.

Several other return specialist and quick receivers will be fun to watch at camp. Isaiah Burse and Jordan Norwood have the inside track at the punt returning duties but only one is likely to make the roster when it is all said and done. Norwood, entering his sixth season in the NFL, was a pleasant surprise at camp last season and had the punt return duties all sewn up until he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in practice and missed the entire season. It appears that he is entirely healthy and ready to show the new coaching staff that he is the man for the job.

Burse was in heavy competition with Norwood and found himself on the 53-man roster when camp closed. He gained some valuable experience last season playing in 12 games before his roster spot was taken by Brandon McManus as a kickoff specialist. Burse not only had some near breakaway returns but he showed a knack for the slot position often during training camp. If he can take his valuable experience from last year and run with is he may have his job back when camp closes.

The remaining receivers of note are Bennie Fowler, Nathan Palmer, Solomon Patton and Jordan Taylor. All four have less than three seasons under their belts and will have to show that they standout among the crowd. Fowler and Palmer were with the team last year but were relegated to the practice team.

Patton was a waiver pick up in the offseason after appearing in seven games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season. He failed to record a reception but was effective as both a punt and kick returner.

Jordan Taylor is the lone rookie of the group and has already made some heads turn in workouts this offseason. He has missed some time due to nagging injuries but has even caught the eye of Peyton Manning. The former high school quarterback and dual athlete at Rice University will get plenty of opportunities to shine at camp.

The wide receiver group will be the most exciting to watch. Thomas and Sanders will clearly dazzle the crowds at camp while Latimer needs to progress quickly. After that, the competition to make the roster will be fierce and highly competitive. The youth on the roster is hungry and Kubiak will give them ample playing time to make an impression on everyone at Dove Valley in a just over a week.

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