Monday brought a lot of excitement at Broncos training camp. In what has turned into a big “news” day on an annual basis, the team released its first depth chart of the season. And everyone was clamoring to get a look.
The reaction was reminiscent of Navin R. Johnson in “The Jerk.” In that 1979 comedy, Steve Martin’s character can’t control his excitement when the whitepages arrive; he’s excited to see his name in print.
“The new phonebooks are here! The new phonebooks are here!”
That pretty much sums up the scene at the UCHealth Training Center this morning. Mass hysteria has ensued.
But the calm after the storm provides a chance to digest what’s on the first official breakdown of the Broncos roster. And it’s pretty revealing.
Here are the five most-interesting takeaways from the first depth chart of 2019:
1. Jeff Heuerman is listed as the starting tight end – After signing a two-year, $9-million contract in the offseason, it was obvious that the Broncos had faith in the fourth-year player. But they also selected Noah Fant in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, signaling that they were looking for more at the position. As of right now, the veteran has held off the rookie.
2. Kevin Hogan is the backup quarterback – For some reason, the Broncos continue to insist that the fourth-year signal caller is the best option if Joe Flacco goes down with an injury. Nothing that has occurred thus far during training camp, however, would support that notion, as rookie Drew Lock has clearly been the second-best quarterback through the first 10 practices.
3. Brendan Langley’s transition to wideout isn’t going well – After flaming out as a cornerback, the Broncos third-round pick in 2017 switched to the other side of the ball during the offseason. It hasn’t increased his chances of making the roster, as the wide receiver is currently listed as fifth-string, behind Fred Brown and Trinity Benson.
4. Jake Brendel is the backup center – While that position might not normally be very exciting, there is reason to consider who is the next man up in this year’s camp. Why? Because Connor McGovern has had repeated issues with bad snaps during practice, something that Vic Fangio has deemed unacceptable. If he can’t fix the problem, the veteran who spent the past three seasons in Miami might get a chance to prove what he can do.
5. Alexander Johnson is listed behind Todd Davis – Middle linebacker is a hotly contested position at camp this year, with multiple players vying for the backup spots behind Davis and Josey Jewell. With Davis injured on day one of practice, that’s created a chance for Johnson, Josh Watson, Joseph Jones and others to run with the ones. Right now, it looks like Johnson has impressed the most.
Bonus. The Broncos have no idea who is going to return kicks or punts this season – Right now, Devontae Booker is the No. 1 kick returner, while River Cracraft is the top punt returner. But Brendan Langley, DaeSean Hamilton, Devontae Jackson and Kelvin McKnight are listed behind them in various orders, even though they aren’t the only ones who could see action in these roles on Thursday against Atlanta.
The first depth chart of the season didn’t have any shocking developments; there was nothing like when Mike Shanahan decided to elevate rookie Mike Bell to the No. 1 spot at running back, at a time when that almost assured he’d rush for 1,000 yards. But there were bits and pieces of interesting info.
Based on the latest news, playing time in the Hall of Fame Game can be gauged. And certain players will get the first shot at impressing coaches in an effort to move up the charts.
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