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Mason's Morsels: Roby's progress, return possibilities and more

Posted Aug 27, 2014

Bradley Roby's progress and the possibilities for returners are among the topics Andrew Mason tackles in his latest mailbag.

As the Broncos and the DenverBroncos.com crew jet to North Texas it's time to dive into the mailbag for the fifth time this summer. If you want to get into the next mailbag, tweet @MaseDenver to #AskMase, and as always, unusual queries welcome.

As Head Coach John Fox says whenever asked about the possibilities of adding players from outside the roster, "You're always looking to improve your football team." You have a pro scouting staff that monitors the other 31 teams, and will scrutinize the waiver wire after final cuts. And in two of the last three years, the Broncos added the man who would end up as their leading returner a few weeks into the season: Quan Cosby (2011, added Sept. 20) and Trindon Holliday (2012, waiver claim Oct. 11). But to add a returner from outside, it would have to represent a clear upgrade over the options that exist: keeping rookie Isaiah Burse, using Emmanuel Sanders to catch punts, or sending Andre Caldwell and/or Omar Bolden back for kickoffs.

You mentioned two names. One, Jacoby Ford, does not have an extensive background as a punt returner, and fumbled three of the nine punts he returned in limited action last year. That would run contrary to what Isaiah Burse said was Special Teams Coordinator Jeff Rodgers' top priority: to not fumble and "get the ball back to the offense." The other, Josh Cribbs, is coming off a shoulder injury, has not had a touchdown since 2011 and had gradually declining numbers, although he could still be effective.

With Ford, Cribbs, or any potential return specialist, the pertinent question is this: is he worth one of the 46 active spots on game days, when his only role is as a returner? And is he worth one of the 53 spots, over a player the Broncos are developing, at any position? Given the Broncos' above-average depth, this is going to be a difficult choice.

Experience matters. So does performance. Chris Harris Jr. and Kayvon Webster are cleared for full practice and moving well. They have done nothing to lose their projected jobs. If there are no setbacks, there's little reason why they should not play extensively in Week 1. But Roby can offer both of them a breather, and with Omar Bolden's improvement this summer, the Broncos appear to possess good cornerback depth.

That depth and quality was something Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio had in mind when he initially met with the first-round pick.

"I don’t want you to be frustrated come November or October if you spent first part of the season not playing much, because that could happen because we’ve got a good group," Del Rio recalled telling Roby in May. "So if you want to play, earn your way and you’re going to have to come out here and fight every day and you’re behind because these guys that have been here and they know what it takes.

"I don’t think he was fazed by it, I think he appreciated that and he went about his work and continues to go about his work. My message to him is, 'You still have a long way to go, so keep grinding, but we’re happy with the progress you’ve made.'"

Talib, Webster and Harris all missed games last season because of injuries. At some point, Roby will be needed for one of the top three cornerback slots. His improvement on the practice field since a rough start to camp and his play against San Francisco and Houston first-teamers, offers evidence that he'll hold his own.

They don't have any restrictions this week in practice, and the Colts game is still 11 days away. I expect they'll be ready.

Whoa. Way, way, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too early.

This is like thinking about what kind of utensils you'll use for the housewarming party when the foundation hasn't even been poured. Try to enjoy the games as they come rather than looking ahead to the end. You'll be happier.

The offense would be jazz fusion: it offers the capacity for improvisation, but is also precise and draws upon myriad influences. If you look at the Broncos offense of 2014, you see bits and pieces from so many schools of offensive thought. The defense would be thrash metal: aggressive, hard driving, on -- or over -- the edge.

Pulled chicken burrito topped with green chile and shredded cheese, at the burrito stand in the west club level toward the north end of the stadium.

More: "Marge on the Lam," season 5. The Dragnet-style epilogue (and Homer's fate, to be "remanded to the custody of the United States Army Neurochemical Research Center at Fort Meade, Md., for extensive testing" is classic. And this is one of Phil Hartman's best appearances: "As of this moment, Lionel Hutz no longer exists. Say hello to Miguel Sanchez!"

Less: "Mr. Plow." I can't get past the notion of barfly Barney Gumble somehow being able drive a snowplow without crashing it into someone's garage. But it's an episode with high points, my favorite being Crazy Vaclav's nonsensical auto sales pitch: "She'll go 300 hectares on a single tank of kerosene."

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