KUSA – Stay healthy, guys. Vacation is almost here.
The Broncos will conclude their offseason program this week with a three-day minicamp Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Two rookies – first-round pick Bradley Chubb and third-rounder Royce Freeman – have yet to sign their four-year contract as of Monday but that’s no big whip because they have workout agreements that don’t expire until the start of training camp, or when they sign their contracts, whichever comes first.
This protects every dollar against injury.
Chubb is scheduled to receive a $17.914 million signing bonus and a fully guaranteed, four-year, $27.271 million contract. Freeman should get a signing bonus close to $1 million with a four-year deal worth a tad more than $4 million.
They will have to work a little harder this week for the money they are about to receive. The 10 OTA (organized team activity) sessions amounted to one on-field practice, strength and conditioning, and a couple hours of meetings. Minicamp has one full practice plus a walkthrough, conditioning and an added meeting or two.
The minicamp is a little more revealing about what head coach Vance Joseph and his staff feel about their players as it pertains to the start of training camp in late-July. Here’s a review of each position as the Broncos enter minicamp:
Case Keenum has performed like the franchise quarterback he was paid to become ($18 million a year), which in turn has given the entire team greater confidence it will be improved this season.
Paxton Lynch is getting better but he has been pushed by Chad Kelly, who was getting his share of practice snaps with the No. 3 team.
Left guard Ron Leary (knee) and right tackle Jared Veldheer (foot/ankle) would be ready to go if the season started today. They have been held back as a precaution. They should be lined up with the No. 1 offense come training camp.
Garett Bolles is the left tackle, Max Garcia has been working at left guard in place of Leary, Matt Paradis at center, either Connor McGovern or Menelik Watson will be the right guard and Billy Turner or Cyrus Kouandjio have been at right tackle in place of Veldheer.
As of now it appears Garcia, Turner and either McGovern or Watson would be the top backups. J.J. Dielman and Kouandjio also have a chance to stick as reserves.
Devontae Booker goes first, but Freeman hasn’t been waiting long before he works in with the No. 1 offense. De’Angelo Henderson is also getting his reps, although his car accident last month did bang up his body. New running coach Curtis Modkins also mixes in rookies David Williams and Phillip Lindsay.
The story of OTAs so far has been rookies Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton getting their share of playing time with Keenum and Lynch.
The newcomers may have invigorated top two veterans Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, who have looked good. Isaiah McKenzie has been making a play for the slot position.
Carlos Henderson, a third-round draft pick last year, must hurry and start making plays. Jordan Taylor will be rehabbing from double hip surgery until at least training camp.
Jake Butt is coming on. After essentially redshirting his rookie season last year to recover from his second ACL surgery, Butt has been making plays in the receiving game. The Broncos hope he can become their first, legitimate receiving threat from the tight end positions, especially in the red zone, since Julius Thomas in the first half of the 2014 season.
Jeff Heuerman will start as the in-line tight end, replacing the spot previously held by Virgil Green.
Fifth-round rookie Troy Fumagalli has been sidelined to recover from sports hernia surgery.
We haven’t seen Clinton McDonald, who has been out all offseason with a shoulder issue. We have seen Adam Gotsis, who has been participating while awaiting word from Atlanta, Georgia on a rape claim levied against him.
Derek Wolfe had a neck procedure that has him feeling like a man. Domata Peko Sr. is back for another year at nose tackle. Shelby Harris and Zach Kerr return to add depth.
The wild-card is second-year, second-round pick DeMarcus Walker. He must come on.
Fourth-round rookie Josey Jewell is mixing in with the first-team defense even though starters Brandon Marshall and Todd Davis return.
Davis re-signed with the Broncos and will make $6 million this season; Marshall’s $5 million salary is fully guaranteed.
Zaire Anderson, a backup the previous two years, has some young competition in sixth-round rookie Keishawn Bierria and second-year players Jerrol Garcia-Williams and Joe Jones.
This was the Broncos’ most stacked position, at least until it was discovered Shane Ray’s left wrist hasn’t been healing correctly. Ray is expected to miss the first two to four games of the regular season, which leaves more playing time for Chubb and Shaq Barrett opposite Von Miller. Undrafted rookie Jeff Holland also has a chance to make the 53-man roster.
The trade that sent Aqib Talib to the Los Angeles Rams creates questions if not concerns. Chris Harris Jr. goes from No. 2 to No. 1 corner. Bradley Roby goes from No. 3 to No. 2. Tramaine Brock, playing with his third team in three years, will be the No. 3 at 30.
Third-round rookie Isaac Yiadom and third-round, second-year corner Brendan Langley are the favorites to win the No. 4 and 5 cornerback spots.
The addition of Su’a Cravens has quietly made this one of the Broncos’ most crowded positions. Cravens is a strong safety who is best as a dime linebacker – the same position Will Parks played last season.
Justin Simmons returns after his breakout season as a first-time starter in 2017. Darian Stewart is a returning No Fly Zoner. Parks and Jamal Carter give the Broncos five solid safeties.
On paper, new punter Marquette King is an upgrade on Riley Dixon, especially when the Broncos are backed up and need to flip field position.
Placekicker Brandon McManus is coming off an off year. If he can three more field goal attempts than he did last year, he will have a good year.
The rookie Hamilton is getting a chance to be a returner.