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20 days, 20 Broncos camp questions -- 18. Will the best camp competition actually be at punter?

Posted Jul 25, 2016

It's possible, given the stakes for the men who will battle for the job.

Riley Dixon and Britton Colquitt

Maybe it won't actually be the best. But for the participants, it might have the most at stake.

The quarterback derby will have all the attention -- justifiably so. The outcome of the 2016 season will in part ride on whether Mark Sanchez, Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch wins the job -- and how well the winner does with his opportunity. But the chances are good that all three quarterbacks will still be on the 53-man roster if they make it through training camp healthy.

Teams don't keep two punters on the 53-man roster, although there are rare instances of having a second punter on the practice squad.

So Britton Colquitt vs. Riley Dixon is Thunderdome: Two men enter; one man leaves.

Colquitt enters training camp off the best stretch of his career, a postseason run in which he was integral to each of the two AFC playoff runs dropping four punts inside the opponent's 10-yard line -- with two inside the 5. For a defensive-oriented team that can play the field-position game, that placement punting was crucial.

Precision punting was Dixon's primary skill at Syracuse; he did well at dropping punts inside the 20 and allowing few returns.

Late in OTAs, the two punters had a drill focused on precision, with punts from midfield and the goal of avoiding a touchback. Not one punt went into the end zone.

"I think it’s been a real neck-and-neck competition," Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeCamillis said. "Riley has got a lot of ability, but Britton is a smooth, good veteran. It’s going to be a heck of a competition going into training camp.”

There will be plenty of speculation about the impact of contracts upon the competition. Colquitt is in the final year of his deal and has one of the largest cap figures for any punter in the league, while Dixon is on his rookie contract and under team control for four seasons.

But contract considerations will be secondary to what the two punters do on the field.

"It’s going to be a tough deal," DeCamillis said during OTAs. "Whoever is the best guy and the best one at the end, that’s who we’ll take at the end of camp."

MORE 20 QUESTIONS:

1. How will they replace Malik Jackson?
2. What will Roby provide in his third year?
3. What's next at long snapper?
4. Will DT have a bounce-back season?
5. What must Heuerman show this summer?
6. Will Green show he can be the No. 1 option at TE?
7. Who could start a new undrafted streak?
8. How long will it take the new OTs to get up to speed?
9. Who could emerge to handle kickoff and punt returns?
10. Who will be the No. 3 safety?
11. Are Barrett and Ray ready for bigger roles?
12. Who emerges as the No. 3 WR behind Thomas and Sanders?
13. Who steps up at ILB alongside Marshall?
14. What must Sanchez show to be the starter?
15. Is Paradis ready to step forward as a leader on the O-line?
16. What must Sambrailo and Garcia show in Year Two?
17. Which young CBs are ready to push for more playing time?