WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Notes, Quotes

The Sports Xchange

July 24, 2018 at 1:10 am.

–Even as their defense has dominated over most of the last four years, the Broncos have struggled to cover running backs and tight ends. Some teams have managed to exploit this soft spot, including the 2016 Atlanta Falcons, who knocked the Broncos from the unbeaten ranks that season with a game plan that saw Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combine for 167 receiving yards.

Last year, 15 of the 29 passing touchdowns surrendered by the Broncos were scored by running backs and tight ends. These struggles led the Broncos to trade for safety Su’a Cravens from Washington, as the Broncos hope that he can provide a matchup problem.

But Cravens is only part of the potential solution. Inside linebacker Brandon Marshall, who handles an every-down role in the defense, knew he had to improve, as well. To that end, the seven-year veteran shed 11 pounds during OTAs, dropping to 225 pounds — 25 below his listed weight.

“I want to be able to move more efficient. I want to feel better on the field. I want to have less body fat. I could be 240, but if I’ve got a lot of body fat, it’s going to slow me down,” Marshall said during OTAs. “I want to just lose the fat and be stronger, leaner and more effective.”

–A year after losing his camp duel to Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch is in a competition again — for the No. 2 quarterback spot behind Case Keenum.

He is at a crossroad. On the one hand, he is one play away from being forced back into the lineup. On the other, he is also looking at being a washout if he cannot change the trajectory of his career.

Even though he doesn’t have the pressure of fighting to be a starter, he does face pressure to show progress and hold off Chad Kelly, especially in a scheme that includes more quick reads and quick timing throws.

The advantage he has now is having an experienced veteran in front of him — something he hasn’t had since Mark Sanchez was on the team during 2016 training camp before struggling and being released after the preseason finale.

“I didn’t really have an opportunity to be around somebody for a long time that had been in the league for a while,” Lynch said. “So, I think it’s really good and Case is a really good dude and he’s a really hard worker too.”

Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave noted that Lynch showed improvement in OTAs.

“Down in the red (zone), Paxton continues to make good decisions, which is good,” Musgrave said. “We want those decisions, those habits to become part of his fabric so they can just be natural and reactive.”

TOP THREE TRAINING CAMP GOALS

–Find the third options. The Broncos’ top two wide receivers and cornerbacks are set with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders on offense and Chris Harris Jr. and Bradley Roby on defense. But beyond that, it’s wide open. Rookie Isaac Yiadom and second-year players Brendan Langley and Marcus Rios could push veteran Tramaine Brock for the No. 3 cornerback spot, while rookies Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton should battle to be the third receiver.

–Settle the right side of the offensive line. Jared Veldheer is expected to start at right tackle, but he missed all of the offseason work while recovering from a foot injury. Last year’s season-opening right tackle, Menelik Watson, worked at right guard during OTAs, but season-ending starter Connor McGovern is a known commodity at guard and has a chance to reclaim the spot.

–Get Bradley Chubb ready. With Shane Ray on the shelf after another wrist surgery, Chubb could find himself as an immediate starter if he can beat out Shaquil Barrett.

TOP SUMMER BATTLE

–Running back. The battle to replace C.J. Anderson should be fierce. Devontae Booker has by far the most experience in the room, but has lacked explosiveness, with no runs of 20 or more yards in his first two seasons. Third-round pick Royce Freeman, second-year veteran De’Angelo Henderson, seventh-round pick Dave Williams and undrafted signee Phillip Lindsay rotated liberally into the lineup throughout OTAs and could leave the Broncos in a committee situation

 

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