ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Max Borghi is not unlike many Broncos fans.
His favorite player was Peyton Manning. He attended training camp as a kid and got autographs on a miniature football. He attended the Broncos' Super Bowl 50 parade.
This Broncos fan, though, is also one of the newest Broncos.
"This is awesome," Borghi said Thursday. "It's surreal. I mean obviously to come out here. I grew up in Denver. I've been watching the Broncos my whole life and to be out here is a blessing to say the least."
Borghi, an Arvada native and Pomona High School alum, signed with the Broncos on Wednesday after the team placed running back Damarea Crockett on injured reserve.
The Colorado high school standout joins the Broncos after a productive career at Washington State in which he scored 41 total touchdowns in 39 career games. Now, he'll aim to prove he deserves a spot with the Broncos.
"Obviously at Washington State … I was a little bit of a receiver, little bit of a running back," Borghi said. "Caught a lot of passes in my days. I think I'll fit real well into this system. A lot of toss and outside zone. I feel like I'm a good outside zone runner. Not only that, but all the pass plays, all the different ways they can use me, I believe I can just bring an edge that will definitely help the room out. [With] special teams and every little thing, I'll do whatever it takes to get on the field. I just want to play, and I want to be in Denver."
Borghi had an opportunity earlier this offseason to compete with the Broncos as he joined the team's mandatory minicamp as a tryout player. He spoke to the team during the pre-draft press conference, as well. When he got calls this week from the Broncos and Steelers, he chose to remain at home.
Borghi's goal of making the roster — or even the practice squad — won't be easy as he tries to make up for lost time during training camp.
"I'm really going to have to come out here and just be a sponge every day," Borghi said. "Obviously I'm coming in mid-camp and I have a lot to learn. Just got to learn from the vets, learn from [Running Backs] Coach [Tyrone] Wheatley and just continue to work hard and do every little thing I can and prep my body, prep myself, prep my game — every little thing matters now. Coming into a week and a half until [the] Dallas [game], so just got to take advantage of every single day and study."
Borghi, though, has previously shown his ability to reach his goals. He and Pomona made three consecutive Colorado state championship games, and he scored a touchdown in Pomona's win during his senior season. That win came at Empower Field at Mile High — and Borghi is already dreaming about scoring more touchdowns on that field.
"It's pretty crazy," Borghi said. "I was just thinking about the touchdown I scored there, and I'm just picturing myself getting an opportunity to hopefully go out there and score another touchdown in front of a full stadium instead of a little half[-filled] high school stadium of fans."
After signing with the Broncos, Borghi is one step closer to making that a reality.
BATTLE TO BACK UP
The Broncos signed veteran quarterback Josh Johnson this offseason, but Hackett said Thursday that Johnson hasn't been declared the Broncos' backup quarterback.
Both Johnson and Brett Rypien remain in contention to back up Russell Wilson, and they each have had their share of touchdown passes and strong plays during training camp.
"Both those guys are doing a fine job," Hackett said. "I don't think anything's solidified. It's about competition right there. 'Ryp' has great days, Josh does great things."
Asked specifically about Johnson, Hackett pointed to the veteran's experience as a major benefit for the Broncos.
"He's got game experience, he's been in this league," Hackett said. "I think he's as old as me. He's just a great guy to have in the room either way, and that's what you're looking for for that position: somebody that can support Russ, support all of us and not have to practice a ton because he's seen so much that he can go in a game at any time and play."
MORE REPS, MORE PROGRESS
Several times during training camp, the Broncos have split up into two groups and worked on different fields. On one field, the first-team units face off. On the other, the reserve players get reps. Hackett explained Thursday that the team uses those periods to give certain players more reps, but it also helps the team's younger coaches.
"We did that at a lot of places I've been," Hackett said Thursday. "It's great, because one, players get the reps that they wouldn't have — you kind of get double the reps in less the time. We ended up getting 12 reps in, gosh, maybe even four minutes the way that we went. So every now and then you want to throw those things in there. But then obviously the coaches have to split up, so the younger coaches [get an opportunity]. For me, everything's about developing — both players [and] coaches. Young guys, you want them to learn how to coach and understand how to coach on the fly and on the field. I think that's always a great opportunity for them."