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Training Camp Primer: Receivers

Posted Jul 20, 2010

In the weeks leading up to training camp, DenverBroncos.com will take you inside the roster, position-by-position. The fifth installment in the eight-part series focuses on the team's wide receivers and tight ends.


Editor's Note: In the weeks leading up to training camp, DenverBroncos.com will take you inside the roster, position-by-position. The fifth installment in the eight-part series focuses on the team's wide receivers and tight ends.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- On his way off the field after the Broncos' June 11 minicamp workout, Kyle Orton stopped to talk to reporters. During the media sesssion, the veteran quarterback raved about his confidence in the system and the way the offense has progressed in its second season in Head Coach Josh McDaniels' system.

After detailing the unit's improved communication and execution during offseason workouts, Orton was asked about his comfort with his receiving corps.

Orton began by acknowledging individual receivers. Jabar Gaffney, Eddie Royal and Brandon Lloyd came first as the quarterback touted his experienced targets' precision and intensity on a daily basis. Orton continued, mentioning the team's younger receivers, tight ends and running backs.

Soon Orton seemed to sense his list of favorite receivers growing long. The signal-caller coming off a career-best season simply had too many people to thank for their hard offseason work to make 2010 even more successful.

"I think I have a (high) comfort level with all these guys," Orton said. "I just hope we continue this enthusiasm and all of this effort that we're putting into it and carry it into August."

For Orton or any NFL quarterback, an overwhelming selection of dependable targets is a welcome problem to have at this time of year.

Thanks to the returning veterans' progress in the system and the additions of several promising rookies, the Broncos enter training camp with as much depth and competition at receiver as any position on the field.

All involved understand the numbers game at play as the summer progresses.

The roster currently features 10 wide receivers and five tight ends, meaning competition should be high as they battle for spots on the 53-man roster.

"I think the biggest key for us is how it's going to sort out in training camp because you can't keep eight receivers on your roster - we all know that," McDaniels said. "Some of them had good springs last year, and they've got to take that performance and really show it in training camp and throughout the preseason when they have the opportunities."

The group includes a diverse mix of talent, experience and potential that has Orton excited to improve upon his 2009 numbers, despite the departures of Brandon Marshall and Tony Scheffler.

Royal has earned some of the spotlight in anticipation of his move to the slot, which the team hopes will bump his production back to the levels of his celebrated rookie season.

As camp begins, Orton will also look to a group of veterans who continue to take strides in McDaniels' system, including Gaffney, Lloyd and Brandon Stokley. Intriguing youngsters Kenny McKinley and Matthew Willis enter the season seeking bigger roles in the offense.

At tight end, veteran Daniel Graham, a captain last season, returns with four young players battling to earn action alongside him.

McDaniels said he's seen all the returning receivers ramp up their play during the offseason, whether it's a result of their increased familiarity with the system or the influx of talent around them.

"Each one of them has really stood out," McDaniels said, "and we're expecting it to be really competitive in training camp because it's been that way all spring."

Adding to that excitement is a heralded rookie class, led by Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker.

Thomas, the 22nd pick in this year's NFL Draft, fought off a foot injury to log time at the end of OTAs.

The receiver known for his big-play abilities at Georgia Tech even got some tips from former Bronco great Rod Smith at the team's June minicamp as he began his adjustment to the pro game.

"I know (NFL cornerbacks are) good, and they don't make mistakes," Thomas said of what he's learned so far.

Decker, who was a third round pick after one of the most productive receiving careers in Minnesota history, is expected to return to action for training camp as he continues to come back from his own foot injury.

After such a successful offseason, the players are well aware of what it will take to earn their way onto the field this season.

But Royal said being under the microscope shouldn't bother the group.

In fact, the third-year receiver said it encourages the attention to detail that will allow Orton and the offense to continue their progression.

"Our focus as an offense is for everybody to do a good job," Royal said. "We can't worry about anybody else or what they're doing. You've just got to focus on yourself and doing your job."

Meet the Receivers

Wide Receiver

  • Alric Arnett -- The college free agent averaged 13.5 yards per catch as a two-year starter at West Virginia.
  • Eric Decker -- The third round pick dropped only three passes in the 354 times he was targeted in his career at Minnesota.
  • Jabar Gaffney -- The ninth-year receiver finished last season with a career-best 732 receiving yards.
  • Patrick Honeycutt -- The college free agent tied for the Middle Tennessee State team lead with 51 catches as a senior last season.
  • Brandon Lloyd -- The eighth-year receiver has topped the 100-yard receiving mark in four career games.
  • Kenny McKinley -- The second-year receiver averaged 22.6 yards per kick return in seven attempts as a rookie.
  • Eddie Royal -- The third-year receiver's 128 career catches are a team record for a player's first two seasons.
  • Brandon Stokley -- The 12th-year receiver has recorded at least one touchdown catch in each of his first 11 seasons.
  • Demaryius Thomas -- The first round pick was one of just three NCAA FBS players with at least 40 receptions to average more than 20 yards per catch last season.
  • Matthew Willis -- The third-year receiver with one career catch made his first career start in Week 17 last season.

Tight Ends

  • Marquez Branson -- The former college free agent spent last season on the Broncos' practice squad.
  • Riar Geer -- The Colorado product earned first-team All-Big 12 Conference honors last season before signing as a college free agent.
  • Daniel Graham -- The ninth-year veteran has appeared in 78 career wins, the third most among NFL tight ends in that span.
  • Nathan Overbay -- The rookie free agent set the Eastern Washington career record for touchdown catches with 19.
  • Richard Quinn -- The 2009 second round pick played in 15 games as a rookie.

TRAINING CAMP PRIMERS:
Quarterbacks
Defensive Backs
Running Backs/Fullbacks
Linebackers

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