The hot, sweltering days of training camp are underway and outside of a few established players, competition is high. Every season brings new opportunities for young athletes to make a name for themselves and three days into camp a few players are emerging.

Depth is critical on any football team and at some previously vulnerable positions, three young players have quickly turned heads out at UCHealth Training Center. Jordan Taylor, Max Garcia and Kenny Anunike have started off camp on the right foot and people are noticing.

“Jordan (Taylor) has been impressive for a young player,” Gary Kubiak said Saturday after an impressive practice by Taylor. “I think you guys who have been watching practice would agree that through OTAs he was an impressive player. It’s going to be important to see how he does. One of the things he really has going for him is he can handle a lot of information. He knows every spot out here right now, and that’s an advantage. I think he’s going to have an excellence chance to help this team.”

The Broncos are notorious for finding usable talent out of undrafted free agents and Taylor may be that next player. Taylor has caught everything thrown in his direction in the early days of camp and it seems that he is already a fan favorite.

He was signed out of Rice University where he played both football and baseball. As Kubiak stated, he is a quick study and it may have helped that he was a successful high school quarterback before converting to a receiver in college. The North Texan has high aspirations for himself and when he was asked who he would compare himself to his answer both encouraging and telling.

“As far a skill-wise, I don’t know if I can compare myself to anyone just yet. Jordy Nelson is a good comparison as far as someone that I would strive to be like. Obviously I have a long way to go to even touch some of the things that he’s done, but probably him.”

Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Cody Latimer are the clear starters moving forward but the second-string positions are certainly up for grabs this season. Taylor appears to be a fast receiver but more importantly he is long and has a great set of hands. Teams can never get enough of tall possession receivers. It will be interesting to see if he can maintain the high level of play he has had the first three days of the season.

Another Bronco who has quickly garnered attention on offense is Max Garcia. The 6’-4”, 309-pound guard/center has been making progress since his arrival to Denver after being picked 133rd overall in the draft. While Kubiak continues to shuffle the line at camp Garcia has gotten most of his repetitions at left guard. Ben Garland and Garcia appear to be the top two candidates for the job. Sunday he looked sharp in pass blocking drills against edge rushers while Garland appeared to struggle. Saturday, Garcia received high praise from the best starting lineman the Broncos have.

“He’s quick off the ball. He’s powerful, strong and heavy-handed,” Louis Vasquez said Saturday. “I’ve talked to Coach Clancy (Barone), and I kind of told him that I’m going to take him under my wing because I like what he has. He just needs to be coached and molded. If he continues to grow and develop as a player, he’s going to be an elite guard in this league.”

Vasquez’s comments are illuminating considering the many additions to the offensive line in the offseason. There are several players competing for starting jobs and the fact that the All-Pro guard, Vasquez was so complimentary shows that Garcia appears to be climbing the depth chart. At camp it is clear that he is comfortable at either left guard or center and if he continues to show improvement it is reasonable to believe that he will find is way into some playing time this season.

On the other side of the ball, Kenny Anunike is making plays and making big leaps in his second year in the NFL. After gaining twelve pounds and recovering from an elbow injury in 2014, Anunike is ready to play on the interior and compete for a starting role. The opportunity is certainly there considering Derek Wolfe will sit out the team’s first four games due to a suspension.

“The main thing that Coach Kubiak talked to me about was that I have all of the tools and everything is there, but I need to hold weight because we’re moving from a 4-3 to a 3-4 to a now. So I’ve gained since last offseason,” Anunike said after day two of camp. “I’ve maintained my speed. I’ve gotten bigger, I’ve gotten stronger and I’ve gotten faster. I’m just using that and implementing everything that Coach Kollar is teaching me right there on the field.”

Everyone from Kubiak to DeMarcus Ware have commented on his improvement from year one to two and in three short days of camp he has gotten substantial repetitions with the second team defense. Just like his other early camp standouts, Anunike has a tough hill to climb but he certainly has the work ethic to continue to improve.

Due to either injuries or outright better play, every season football teams undergo change. These three players have started off camp with a bang and will make the coaching staff think twice about the future of these positions. Although they have only had three days of camp, Taylor, Garcia and Anunike are on their way to successful season if they keep up the good work.


The team as a whole was very physical Sunday as they practiced in helmets and shoulder pads. Monday they will be in full pads. Danny Trevathan, Brandon Marshall, Demaryius Thomas and Antonio Smith all suited up Sunday but were limited. Marshall looked fresh and quick in seven-on-seven drills while Thomas appeared to be still shaking off the rust from his absence from organized team activities. Malik Jackson was on the field but was out of pads. His calf strain should only keep him out a few more days at the most.

Manning connected with Sanders on a forty-plus touchdown throw early in team drills. Sanders beat Aqib Talib on a deep post-route and Manning’s throw was in perfect stride. Brock Osweiler threw an ugly interception but the reaction from Kubiak and his staff may have meant that the receiver ran the wrong route. C.J. Anderson continued to get the first team reps but Montee Ball is also getting a lot of plays in.

Von Miller received the most applause of the day when he was running through individual pass rush drills near the fan viewing hill. Sylvester Williams continued to receive praise from Kubiak and others with the head coach singling him out Saturday for playing aggressive through the entire practice. Chris Harris Jr. looked very sharp in practice Sunday as well. He denied Thomas and Latimer the ball on multiple pass attempts.

On special teams Karl Schmitz struggled with his punt accuracy and Brandon McManus went two for four on field goal attempts. He missed from 51 and 37 yards and made field goals of 41 and 37 yards.

Email Sam at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @SamCowhick.