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(Graphic by K.J. Rigli/Bonneville Denver)
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Mile High Monday: A look at early training camp stars

(Graphic by K.J. Rigli/Bonneville Denver)

Training camp is finally here! For the last few days I have been out at UC Health Training Center watching closely as the Broncos prepare for the 2019 season.

I like heading to training camp every year. It means that football season is closer and things get incredibly busy in my world – but that’s a good thing as football is my passion and something I enjoy covering.

I also like contemplating life and sports when driving around with the top down on my old Jeep TJ. The following is a result of those trips during the week.

Buckle up, let’s take a ride through my thoughts.

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More Yiadom Please

One thing is clear during the first few days of Broncos training camp – we need to see more of cornerback Isaac Yiadom. The second-year cornerback may be more involved in the Broncos defense this year than some people think.

Yiadom’s rookie season had some ups and downs. He looked good at times, playing as a reserve corner for the Broncos and even made some plays against elite-level wide receivers like Antonio Brown. Yiadom did get banged up with a shoulder injury and missed some time. He tried to play with the injury late in the year but did not look the same.

Healthy now, Yiadom has done a good job out at training camp. He’s been able to get a couple of interceptions during the first few days and generally is in a good position to make plays on the ball. The Broncos went out in free agency and added two corners in Kareem Jackson and Bryce Callahan. Jackson is going to mostly play safety for the Broncos and Callahan is best suited to play as a slot corner.

With the way that Yiadom is performing, he might be able to win the job outside opposite of Chris Harris Jr. The Broncos have a versatile secondary with players who can line up in a multitude of spots, and Yiadom is no different. I’d like to see him win a starting job if he can carry over his strong performance in camp into the preseason.

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Sleepers on the Roster

The Broncos are one of the best teams in the league when it comes to finding talent from the late rounds of the draft or from the ranks of college free agents after the draft. This year, the talent level of late-round or undrafted players is quite high.

Juwaan Winfree, a sixth-round pick out of Colorado, has been one of the stars of training camp. I know it’s early, but the wideout is playing with the savvy of a 10-year veteran. Winfree does a good job of getting open and he goes all out to make a play. He will dive to the ground or sky to the heavens in order to secure the catch, and Winfree rarely drops any passes in practice.

Austin Fort, an undrafted tight end from Wyoming, is one of the most consistent players at the tight end position. With guys like Jake Butt and Troy Fumagalli missing time as they deal with various injuries, Fort is out there making plays for the first- second- or third-team offense. A converted quarterback, Fort knows how to be a quarterback’s best friend and will sit down in the soft spot of a zone, square his shoulders to the line of scrimmage and come back to the ball. I think he’s destined for the practice squad this year, but the upside is there with a player who is still learning the nuances of the position.

Trinity Benson, undrafted out of East Central this year, has been getting first-team reps over the last two days with the Broncos. Sure, Emmanuel Sanders has not yet fully returned from his injury but it’s a nice reward for the work that Benson has done. Benson has agility, quickness and good ball skills on slant routes. He can snare the ball quickly, turn upfield and use his long strides to run away from the defense. Benson might be destined for the practice squad this year, but he could push for a spot on the 53-man roster if the Broncos choose to keep six receivers in 2019.

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Better Than Ever?

If you didn’t know that Emmanuel Sanders was coming back from an Achilles’ injury, you wouldn’t be able to tell by his performance out at training camp. Sanders has looked amazing – in limited work so far – during training camp.

Sanders is showing great quickness and speed as a route runner. He is cutting at full speed and does a good job of working the sideline and staying inbounds on passes that are coming in hot.

While he’s not getting in team work yet, Sanders might be a little ahead of schedule according to head coach Vic Fangio.

“It’s a slow but sure process. He’s out here working early in practice with guys. They take him in and do some more cardio with him. That way he doesn’t have to pound on the ground. Everything is good so far with him. He’s where we’re expecting him to be and even a little bit more,” Fangio said.

The offense has been struggling a bit at times in training camp. That’s no surprise as the defense is usually ahead of the offense at this time of year. However, when Sanders comes back fully the offense should be able to put up a better fight.

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Just Floored

I wrote about how I would have an eye on San Diego Comic Con in last week’s “Mile High Monday” and the news from the con did not disappoint. In fact, I was absolutely floored by my favorite news in the world of pop culture over the weekend.

The Russo brothers, who have directed four Marvel films – including the highest grossing film of all time “Avengers: Endgame” – are going to next help develop a film about ’80s comic book character Grimjack.

While most don’t know Grimjack, I was a huge fan of the independent comic when I was growing up. Wikipedia describes Grimjack as follows: “Grimjack is the street name of John Gaunt, a sword-for-hire, ex-paramilitary, war veteran and former child gladiator. He operates from Munden’s Bar in the Pit, a slum area of Cynosure, a pan-dimensional city to which all dimensions connect.”

If you have any interest in learning more about the character since this film is in development, then I urge you to buy the graphic novel Demon Knight as it tells one of the best stories from the Grimjack comic series. I’m such a big fan of Grimjack that my gamertag on XBox Live is Grimjack1977.

Hit me up if you ever want to play video games online and maybe we can chat about the upcoming comic book movies coming out.