Making Sense of the Broncos 53-man Roster
By Matt Petrero
Aug 29, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; A general view of the field in the first quarter between the Denver Broncos and the Arizona Cardinals at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Cardinals won 32-24. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
With the opening kickoff of the highly anticipated 2013 NFL season just five days away, the Denver Broncos have made their final transactions to trim down to the required 53-man roster. While by my estimation there were really no surprises, there were some questions of significance answered.
First thing is first. I know you all aware of the controversial competition at starting QB. So lets clear that up before anything else. Peyton Manning gets the nod after much deliberation by the coaching staff. I tell you, I think that kid has a big future in the NFL.
(For any of you that did not recognize that last paragraph as comedic sarcasm, the QB decision was addressed with a big, DUH!)
What seemed to be the most discussed conundrum on Denver sports talk radio this past Friday was whether or not the Broncos would carry three QBs and keep 2013 seventh round draft pick, Zac Dysert; which is not a common strategy in the NFL these days. That question however was answered in the affirmative. I believe that Denver’s philosophy is that Manning, at age 37 probably has no more than two years left. Add to that the uncertainty of perceived heir apparent, Brock Osweiler and it only makes sense to carry Dysert as the 3rd QB. Clearly it appears that the Broncos’ brass didn’t believe that he would clear waivers if waived. The rookie from Miami (OH) made this decision much easier after his performance in the final preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals. Dysert’s line vs Arizona is as follows: 9-of-20 for 163 yards and a TD. A stat line good enough to create quite the QB competition once faced with L.A.P.F.M. (Life After PFM). The hope there is that the competition between the two future signal callers will bring the best out in each other and one will be an elite QB for Denver for the following 10-15 years and the other will be traded for an early round draft pick.
Another curiosity was the competition at center. Right fielder, Manny Ramirez is one of the best right-handed hitters in the history of the game…oh, not that Manny Ramirez…Our Manny Ramirez has been locked in a battle for the spot of twerking before Peyton. While he has taken the majority of the snaps – or should I say provided the majority of snaps – in the preseason, the Broncos did bring in veteran journeymen Ryan Lilja and Steve Vallos after Dan Koppen‘s season ended before it even started with a torn ACL during training camp. Lilja ended up being released and Vallos was installed as the back-up to Ramirez. There are still decisions to be made once the usual starting center, J.D. Walton returns from a horrible ankle injury somewhere around the beginning of November. The feeling I have in my ample gut is that Vallos will be the odd man out. But what a nice dilemma to have.
Other notable depth chart and roster moves:
Julius Thomas is the number one TE. Thomas had a great camp and is a guy unto whom Manning invested a lot of time. “Orange Julius” is the most physically gifted TE on the roster but did not have as much experience as Joel Dreessen or Jacob Tamme.
As expected, Derek Wolfe will be back in time for the opener and is listed as the starting LDE. The only question which surrounded Wolfe was whether or not he would be back in time after suffering a spinal cord bruise in the second preseason game in Seattle.
Free agent signing, Shaun Phillips is showing up as the first reserve at RDE (Robert Ayers) and SLB (Nate Irving). A disappointing camp for rookie first round pick, Sylvester Williams has him slotted as the backup at NT to offseason acquisition, Terrance Knighton.
There is only one mild surprise in the defensive secondary. The starter at SS will be Duke Ihenacho. Ihenacho beat out Mike Adams after having a very good preseason which included a stellar performance in the opener at Candlestick against San Francisco.
The linebacking corps is an area of great intrigue. As we all know, Von Miller has been suspended and will miss the first six games of the season. Nate Irving will start in his stead at SLB until his return. Upon said return, there will be some needed roster juggling. Either Irving or current #1 at WLB, Danny Trevathan will head to the second team. The other will most likely assume the WLB spot to make room for Miller. At which time somebody will need to be waived or released. I am inclined to think that will be 12-year veteran and recently signed Paris Lenon (no relation to Yoko Ono).
Finally, three Broncos were added to the Injured Reserve list. There is a thought that LB Stewart Bradley, LB Lerentee McCray, and DE Quanterus Smith are thought to have a chance to be reinstated at some point this season if they heal up.
I’s have been dotted and T’s have been crossed and now it’s time for kickoff. Lets just hope that this is the bulk of the roster which brings home a Lombardi trophy in the snow and freezing rain from the swamps of Jersey on February 2nd, 2014.