The Denver Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning has many parts and pieces to lead to success this year in the 2012 NFL season. With training camp starting at Dove Valley this Thursday, let’s take a look at the players that will make up a successful offense this season for the Denver Broncos.
Wide receivers will obviously be a key to this revamped offense, moving away from the Tim Tebow running game to the fast paced no huddle offense Manning will be running. Holdovers from last year include Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. Thomas burst onto the scene last year with his overtime touchdown catch against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the opening playoff game. At 6’3” and 224 pounds Thomas is a huge target across the middle and is a deep threat with great speed and power. Eric Decker will see more looks this year as he is emerging as a threat in the slot, and as the second receiver across from Demaryius Thomas. Decker is another big receiver at 6’3” and 218 pounds, but lacks the speed that Thomas has.
As far as the other receiver spots, Manning will look to old buddy Brandon Stokley to fill the third receiver spot and will be challenged by newcomer Andre Caldwell for the third receiver slot in training camp. Both receivers give some quick hit options for Manning, particularly on third down. Stokley will have to shake off some rust as he sat out all of the 2011 season, but was one of the influential players that brought Manning to Denver. D’Andre Goodwin and Matthew Willis should round out the rest of the receiving core and may end up sharing kick return duties.
Tight end will be another competitive position in training camp. With no stand out player at the position, this is really a toss up for the starting roles. With a de-emphasis on the running game, look for a receiving tight end to make one of the starting spots as much of Manning’s success with Dallas Clark in Indianapolis was a key to their success. Candidates include Jacob Tamme, Julius Thomas, Virgil Green and Joel Dreessen. Tamme and Dreessen look to have the upper hand as they have already played with Manning in the past. If Julius Thomas can stay healthy, he is a freak of an athlete and could spring onto the radar as a go to player for Manning.
Running back is a position where there are many different ways to go. Incumbent Willis McGahee will look to secure the starting spot, and is coming off a good season in 2011 running well in the Tebow experiment. The biggest issue with McGahee is his breakaway ability. He catches the ball well out of the backfield, but does not have blazing speed. Draft pick Ronnie Hillman could come in and have an immediate impact. Hillman is the prototypical scat back with similar make up to Marshall Faulk. Very fast, but a little small, Hillman will bring that breakaway ability the Broncos have long been missing. If Knowshon Moreno can make a successful comeback from injury, he will be in play as well if he can hold onto the ball. Lance Ball should round out the running back stable as he has been a healthy and reliable backup. Newcomer Chris Gronkowski will likely make the team as well, but more in a fullback role. He could be a go to goal line running back with good size at 6’2” and 245 pounds. The Broncos struggled to score in the red zone running the ball last year, so Gronkowski could make an impact there.
With these skill positions in the Denver Broncos arsenal this year, Peyton Manning should be able to have a Manning like season in 2012 and we may see some breakout performances from the likes of Eric Decker and Ronnie Hillman.
Football Fever has already hit here in Denver and the ball gets rolling on July 26th. Get there early if you want a good seat as this looks to be one of the most anticipated training camps in Denver Broncos history.