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Gray Matter Mailbag: Camp, DRC and Matchups

Posted Jun 28, 2013

In this week's mailbag, Gray Caldwell answers questions about training camp practices, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and more.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to take this time to admit a very embarrassing trait.

I'm a Charlotte Bobcats fan.

So after watching them take Cody Zeller at No. 4 overall last night, I'm glad to get back to thinking about a happier subject -- Broncos football. Maybe Zeller will be a good pro, and I was happy to see former Tar Heel Reggie Bullock go in the first round, but it feels good to get back into a football mindset.

Let's get to this week's questions. Thanks, as always, for submitting them. You can do so all week -- just tweet to me using the hashtag #GrayMatter.

Good question, and the answer is yes. There are 16 practices open to the public, including the club's Summer Scrimmage Sports Authority Field at Mile High, but the team has some afternoon sessions throughout camp as well. Those are closed to the public. The team alternates between a one-a-day and two-a-day practice schedule, with the occasional day off and preseason game making it so it's not exactly every other day. This year, on eight occasions the team will also have an evening walkthrough practice session that is open to media only.

Covered this a little bit last week in terms of Chris Kuper getting a shot at center -- I don't see that happening, if only because he's never played center in college or the pros. As far as Dan Koppen is concerned, I do expect him to step in as the starter. He was a late signing last year -- not until the club had already played its Week 1 game -- and still stepped right in when J.D. Walton went down in Week 4. With a full training camp with the team, not to mention his experience working with Peyton Manning last season, it seems safe to pencil in Koppen as the starting center. You're also right in the sense that Manny Ramirez and Phillip Blake provide depth at the position as well while Walton aims for a mid-October recovery.

I saw Ayers already helped me out with the answer on Twitter -- "You'll have to tune in to see." But I'll delve in a little. DRC ran a 4.33 at the NFL Scouting Combine back in 2008, and Demaryius Thomas said during OTAs that "he's still fast."

"He’s probably one of the best I’ve seen that can recover if he gets beat because his hips are so fast," Thomas said.

It's his combination of size (6-foot-2) and speed that makes him such a talented cover corner. Right now it looks like Rodgers-Cromartie will line up as the outside corner opposite Champ Bailey, though he has some competition for that spot in a deep secondary. Bailey said he and DRC are similar in that they both pride themselves on being able to cover anybody, and Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio said he's seen nothing but hard work from Rodgers-Cromartie as he looks to use the abilities he been blessed with to become a more consistent player.

That hard works looks to be paying off already, according to Von Miller, who was asked about the newcomers on defense.

“I think ‘DRC,' he’s been looking like he’s been here for the longest," he said. "He came right in and fits in with the locker room."

That's up to seventh-round pick Zac Dysert and college free agent Ryan Katz. The club had three last year -- Peyton Manning, Brock Osweiler and Caleb Hanie. With a year under his belt, Osweiler has given the team confidence that he could handle the offense if he had to, so it wouldn't be all that surprising if the team went into the season with just Manning and Osweiler. That would save a roster spot for another position. Either Dysert or Katz could end up on the practice squad, as well, so there would still be another arm to work on the scout team throughout the year. If I had to guess right now, I'd say that's how it shakes out -- Manning and Osweiler on the active roster with a third quarterback on the practice squad.

All three are good choices. And don't forget about the Redskins game -- when Mike Shanahan will make his return to Denver -- or the Giants game -- the battle of the Manning brothers. Personally, I'm most excited for the Ravens game. First and foremost, it's the first game of the season. And the only show in town -- I think it's going to be awesome to be a part of the NFL Kickoff Game, and hosting it makes it all the better. Then add on the fact that it's a test against last season's best team, and it just so happens to be the team that knocked the Broncos out of the playoffs in heartbreaking fashion, AND that team has since added former Broncos pass rusher Elvis Dumervil. It's just too perfect of a scenario. Now I'm all excited about it. Let's get training camp started.

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