The sporting world has gone into its brief hibernation for the coming weeks after the NHL and NBA wrapped up their seasons and the Denver Broncos take their break away from their organized team activities. While the Rockies continue to struggle through the dog days of summer let’s look back on what the Broncos said from camp and what lies ahead at the end of July when they reconvene for training camp.

The backfield

The good news for the team is that arguably the most important and most exciting two positions on the team appear to be healthy and ready to go. Both C.J. Anderson and Peyton Manning seem excited to evolve into Gary Kubiak’s offense and use a more balanced attack to go after defenses this season.

David Cutcliffe, Duke University’s football coach and former coach of Manning’s told Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post that Manning looked stellar last April at his voluntary workouts with his teammates.

“I thought he looked really healthy,” Cutcliffe said in early June. “I watched him train inside and he looks good and he’s strong where he needs to be strong, and he didn’t show anything at all from the quad.”

Manning suffered from a strained quad for several weeks at the end of the 2014-15 season and it clearly affected his throwing. With that seemingly out of the way Manning’s discipline and work ethic has never been stronger.

“I think everybody likes continuity and some consistency in what you’re doing, but I will say at age 36 when I got here and now 39, that I have been stimulated by the changes, which I do think keeps you engaged and energetic and focused in meetings. I can tell you one thing: I am not bored in the least bit,” Manning said last week. “I think change—instead of being stymied by any type of change, you can be stimulated by them. That’s been true for me and I think that’s been a real positive, to tell you the truth.”

Anderson will be playing in the backfield with Manning as the starter entering camp. After a great finish to the season he earned himself a spot in the Pro Bowl and it appears a job with the new coaching staff in 2015. Kubiak had high praise last week for Anderson who is trying to soak up all the information he can at practice.

“I think in this league as coaches you look for guys that can be three-down players. When you have two-down players, that’s fine, but it’s just very difficult in the game standpoint and getting them the ball and calling the game when you’re not out there all the time. He has a knack for protection; he’s very bright in protection. So he’s a guy that’s not going to leave the field—as much as he can stand. And that’s what the great ones do so that gives him an excellent chance.”

The offensive line

The team’s glaring deficiency is along the offensive front. Manny Ramirez, Orlando Franklin, Will Montgomery and now Ryan Clady will not be appearing in a game for the Broncos this season as they are all with others teams or injured. Only Louis Vasquez will be back at his right guard position that gained him notoriety around the league.

While the coaches remain optimistic that the youth of the group can step in and handle the arduous task of protecting Manning while creating a feared rushing attack, the competition for starting jobs will leave people guessing all the way up until the season starts.

“The biggest thing at tackle is its really hard because you’re trying to settle Ty (Sambrailo) down and those things, but yet, somebody’s got to be a swing player too. So, they’re still moving around and I think we are very competitive all the way across the front. Louis (Vasquez) is the one guy who has been a steady guy in what he’s done. I think really after that we’re going to be very competitive all the way across,” Kubiak stated last Monday. “We’re going to be young. If I told you the lineup today or if I tell you in August, that’s a fact. But I think one of the good things is we’ve had a lot of work, a lot of reps with the group.”

Rick Dennison echoed Kubiak’s statements as well reiterating that they realistically may not now who will start even after the preseason comes to an end. Entering training camp Kubiak has settled on who will be running with the number one offense. Ty Sambrailo, Ben Garland, Gino Gradkowski, Louis Vasquez and Chris Clark currently hold the five positions from left to right.

Kubiak spent last week showering praise on Garland’s work ethic and stating emphatically that Sambrailo is learning quickly but the truth of matter is both are extremely raw. Gradkowksi and Clark are veteran players with starting experience but lacked the consistency needed to hold onto the role in past seasons. This portion of the team will not only be highly scrutinized throughout the season but may hold the team’s season outcome in their hands.

The defensive backfield

Another area of little concern to the team is the defensive backs. Chris Harris Jr., Aqib Talib and Bradley Roby lead a group of very talented, physical players. As Wade Phillips develops the team into a 3-4 defense it will be a huge benefit to the team if the backfield can play tight one-on-one coverage in order for the linebackers to blitz and create pressure. Phillips made it clear that this unit is one that he is fairly confident in.

“I think we have an exceptional group. I think everyone knows that,” Phillips said June 11. “They all have ability and they are all hard workers. They are all smart players. I have no complaints about the secondary that’s for sure.”

Harris Jr. heard from Texans players what Phillips style of defense is and he is excited to be challenged this season. He was arguably the best cornerback in the NFL last season and knows what challenges the 3-4 scheme brings for his position.

“You’re going to be left on an island a lot. With the guys that we have up front, we already understood that was coming playing a 3-4 and that we were going to bring the heat,” he said June 2. “To be left on an island, everybody is gone. Everybody is blitzing. It’s something that we’ll be looking forward to in the season. He’s an attack mode defensive coordinator.”

Roby, after an excellent rookie season, has been very critical of his play and is looking to become as feared as his two teammates this season. The coaching staff will be trying to get him on the field in any way possible throughout the season.

“I think last year I thought about not getting beat and things like that because I knew I was a rookie and that they were going to come after me. I was worried about not getting beat rather than paying attention to the right keys that make sure that I don’t get beat. That’s what I pay attention to now. I’m going to be a lot better—a whole lot better this year.”

While the defensive line goes through a lot of change and the linebackers’ health remains a concern, the defensive backfield appears to be poised for a great season. Darian Stewart is the only new member at free safety and will have to fall in line with T.J. Ward and Co. but according to coaches and teammates that process is already going well.

The inside linebackers

At the end of minicamp last week two big names came to the podium and their similarities could not be ignored. Danny Trevathan and Brandon Marshall spoke with the media after they finished up their offseason workouts as mostly spectators. Both linebackers, after working their way up through practice teams to starters in the NFL, are looking to have big years. The problem is both players are coming off of serious injuries that plagued them in the previous season.

It was made clear in their statements that Trevathan will be now playing with a new knee cap in his right knee and Marshall will have screws in his foot throughout the season. Both injuries have kept them out of most of the team’s activities so far.

“It’s been kind of tough because I’m used to always being out there doing my part to get better and help the team so it’s been a little rough, but I’m taking this time to really get my body right, really get my mind right and I think it’ll be beneficial,” Marshall said of the time missed. “I’ll be back in training camp. That’s what the word is. Until (I hear) otherwise, that’s what it is.”

Trevathan is slightly farther along than Marshall but is still being held out of all physical contact drills with teammates. He is optimistic and excited to get on the field with Marshall who played a huge role in the middle of the defense in 2014.

“With two capable players and we’re two of the best linebackers in the league. It’s time for people to start noticing that. We came in with kind of a chip on our shoulders. Us lining up next to each other is just extra motivation. I look into his eyes and he looks into my eyes and we both know that we both have the ability to play and be the best out there. It’s time for us to make a name for ourselves.”

Both players expect to be fine but the seriousness of Trevathan’s injuries and the nagging nature of Marshall’s Lis Franc injury should not be taken lightly. Best case scenario, the duo comes back and becomes what Trevathan is hoping for in his comments. Worst case scenario, the duo bounce in and out of the starting jobs due to health and the inexperienced, lesser talented backups struggle to stop the run in the middle and cover the talented tight ends they will see in coverage week-in and week-out.

The Broncos goals are their yearly lofty aspirations for a championship but while they rest for the next few weeks they undoubtedly have a lot to think about. The new staff, new schemes and big questions will remain until they reconvene in July. Some spots hold promise while others simply look highly questionable. One thing is for sure, the offseason has never been so compelling since Manning’s arrival and that will not change anytime soon.

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