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Mason's Morsels: Virgil Green, Emmanuel Sanders, and Defensive Outlook

Posted Aug 13, 2014

There's plenty on Andrew Mason's mind as he dives into the mailbag for the third time this training camp.

On camera and via the written word, it's the third edition of the mailbag, which we've rechristened with a name that is familiar to long-time readers of DenverBroncos.com.

If you want to get into the next mailbag, tweet @MaseDenver to #AskMase, and as always, unusual queries welcome.

This was asked during the lightning delay of the preseason opener, and it's a good question. Following the release of Joel Dreessen after a year of left knee problems, Green is in the spotlight because he is the only returning tight end who is known to most for his blocking, rather than his receiving. The team's lack of a fullback also creates the potential for additional use in short-yardage situations, and as he showed in the AFC Championship Game, he can carry the ball if needed. Green played five of 19 first-team snaps last week against Seattle, for a percentage of 26.3 percent; he played 26.4 percent of the regular-season offensive plays last year.

Much has been written and discussed about the Broncos working on the power elements of their offense, and how it's a new emphasis. I find this to be overblown. They worked on them last year, too. There were multiple stretches when the Broncos worked in two- and three-tight end sets in the regular season, and they proved they could pass effectively from them when needed, giving the defense another issue to consider. And when conditions -- both weather and tactical -- warranted throttling back to a ground-based attack, Denver's running backs gained 280 yards on 47 carries (good for a 5.96-yard average) in a loss at New England.

The goal is not to simply run more. Running for the sake of running -- to hit 'x' number of carries or have 'x' percentage of plays used on the ground -- is meaningless. The goal is to be able to run effectively when needed. The New England game was a positive example. Super Bowl XLVIII was a negative example, when the Broncos needed that knife in their drawer to force the Seahawks to play on their heels. It wasn't sharp, and Denver's struggles continued. That's what the Broncos want to improve, and Green -- who played a season-low two offensive snaps in the Super Bowl -- could be a big part of that.

"La-MEEN." Get used to it, because his role could increase while Danny Trevathan is sidelined.

I think there was a great example during Tuesday's practice, where the third scuffle was enough -- by which point, the action was oozing over to the sideline. The first kerfuffle was contained between two players: Will Montgomery and Kevin Vickerson; it didn't spread. Had that been the end, none of us in the laptop-and-mic set would have asked about the intensity of practice. The subsequent dust-ups involved more players and plenty of yelling. Practice was on the verge of teetering out of control, and John Fox had the wisdom to gather the team and get things back in order. "One's an accident; two's a trend; three's a problem," as the cliche' goes.

Chris Clark is doing well, on the whole. Remember, he's facing a deep group of pass rushers on a daily basis, and with Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware working as bookends in practice, he has a difficult challenge every snap. It's unlikely the regular season will throw anything at him that he has not seen to this point.

As for Sanders, his skill set is different than Decker's, but his effectiveness could be equal in the final sum. Sanders nearly had a touchdown during the summer scrimmage on a go route toward the end zone, but he can also be effective working underneath, and taking advantage of the attention drawn by Julius and Demaryius Thomas on post and corner routes. Sanders' method and style is different, but he could be just as effective.

This was in response to a tweet where I said I could see the defense ranked between fourth and seventh at the end of the season.

I salute your optimism. But a team that plays from ahead -- as the Broncos hope to be -- often sacrifices yardage to set up bigger plays (strip-sacks, interceptions, et. al.) or to prevent the massive strike that can flip momentum. (If you're ahead by 17 with eight minutes left, you'll concede the paper cuts to prevent being gashed.) Unfortunately for the team that plays from ahead, garbage yards count the same as those when the game is close. Thus, my predicted defensive rank between No. 4 and No. 7.

And now, the unusual questions …

I don't have the knowledge to answer this question, and for this, I am thankful.

It changes by the week, based on the most recent one I watched. But I always come back to "The Pen" -- or, for that matter, almost all of the Florida episodes, covering Morty and Helen's years at The Pines of Mar Gables, Phase II, to their excommunication and exile at Del Boca Vista.

Everything depicted about the dysfunction of retired, senior-community life in Florida hits the bullseye: the homes in shades of beige or cream, the unwillingness to turn the air conditioner lower than 79 degrees, the debates over whether the lakes in subdivisions are real (they usually aren't; they're retention ponds, and if you eat a fish caught from one, you might die -- or so I was told).

A few years later, Jerry described the Del Boca Vista retirees as people who "work and wait their whole lives to move down here, sit in the heat, pretend it's not hot, and enforce these rules." It is the most accurate line in the history of Seinfeld, nailing the ethos of some who move to Florida. There was at least one in every suburban neighborhood; ours spent his days cruising the sidewalks in an electric scooter, documenting violations of design code such as basketball hoops in front yards.

And, of course, always "TAKE THE PEN!"

I can't narrow it down to one, and even four is tough. This is a blossoming food town, especially if you want to eat for $12 or less. Santiago's, Biker Jim's, Tom's Home Cookin', and the Denver Biscuit Company (try the shrimp-and-grits biscuit) are some of my go-to stops.

For me and my Asperger's-addled brain, seeing is believing. It's why faith and I have a tenuous relationship. And I have never seen Sasquatch. So, make the connection from there.