Denver, CO. Just 2 days….and training camp will be underway! Every year as a Denver Broncos fan is looked ahead to with excitement and anticipation, because the orange and blue rule this area and are easily the most followed team in Colorado. This year may outdo any previous year in that regard, and it all has to do with that future Hall of Fame QB Denver signed back in March. If he is healthy like he and everyone around him says he is, the sky is the limit as to what this team could accomplish over the next few years. But let’s not get confused, other players on this team must continue to get better for this team to do what Peyton is here to do…..win, and win big time. So heading into 2012, here are the “Top 7″ players that will make or break this upcoming season……
7 – Ryan Clady (LT) - Peyton Manning’s blind side defender, kinda important huh? The fact that Clady is here and is a 2-time Pro Bowler in his 4 years in the NFL had to play a part in Peyton signing in Denver. He will be a vital part in keeping Manning upright and allowing him to have time to dismantle opposing defenses. Clady is simply one of the best left tackles in the league right now.
6 – Tracy Porter (CB) - Porter signed here to be the starter opposite Champ Bailey at the other cornerback position. It is going to be very important that he plays well, because this position got torched last year as opposing QB’s stayed away from throwing at Champ’s side of the field. Porter coming up big would only boost this defense.
5 – Brandon Stokley (WR) - Stokley signed here to be that slot receiver that Peyton has always loved throwing to. While in Indy in 2004, he flourished as Peyton’s go-to guy and could end up being that productive again this year. Stokley is long in the tooth, but may have enough left to get it done in 2012.
4 – Von Miller (LB) - The rookie had an outstanding 2011 and showed he will be a fixture on this defense for many years to come. He can obviously rush the passer quite well, but he must get better at covering the tight ends at times too. The duo of Dumervil and Miller could end up with 30+ sacks this year.
3 – Julius Thomas (TE) - The 2011 rookie had a rough first year, as injuries killed his rookie campaign. This guy is ultra talented, and in the mold of a Tony Gonzalez or Antonio Gates. Like them, he has a history of playing basketball too, and is just a very athletic guy in general. The Broncos brought in Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme, but it could be Thomas who shines at the tight end position this year.
2 – Demaryius Thomas (WR) - I am not worried about Eric Decker at all. Decker, to me, is a known commodity at this point, and is poised to have a huge year. Thomas could go either way really. Will he be the beast who blazed down the field with impressive speed in defeating the Steelers this past January? Or will he be the injury plagued receiver who can’t consistently stay on the field, like his days at Georgia Tech and his rookie year here? If he develops into the physical, big target for Peyton like many think he can, look out….he could dominate games at times this year.
1 – Peyton Manning (QB) - This one is easy. Peyton’s health and success will dictate how far the Broncos go. It’s as simple as that. We all saw how the Colts went from a 10+ win team to one that was winless until December last year. If Peyton is 100%, then Denver could lay waste to many teams on their schedule. If he is not, then they will be decent and probably not go as far as they want. Over his entire career, Manning has made so many average teammates look good, and good players end up looking great. Players like him have that effect on his team, and the entire organization. I have seen the look lately in Peyton’s eyes when the topic of winning now comes up, and as long as his health holds up, Broncos fans will have plenty to be happy about in 2012.
Denver Sports by J Simp