ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — In just over two weeks, we'll be settling in to watch the Broncos take on the Titans in Week 1.
It's hard to believe that regular-season football is that close, and the Broncos still have a lot of work to do before their opening game arrives.
As we push toward that date, we're taking a look at one of the most impressive parts of Jerry Jeudy's game, who could fill the third cornerback position and more.
I have heard virtually nothing about Netane Muti, I know he had the potential (if injury free) to really help out in the O line. I believe he is currently on the NFI list. Do you have any information about how he is doing physically and what is he doing to learn the offense? Thanks - David D.
David, the good news is that Muti passed his physical in early August and has been practicing with the team since then. He's been taking part in 11-on-11 work, so it doesn't seem like he has any lingering health concerns. That's important, because he's getting valuable reps in the Broncos' new offensive scheme. Now, I wouldn't expect Muti to play a huge role this year, as Austin Schlottmann and Patrick Morris seem like more likely options as reserve guards — if they don't win the starting center job — but he could be a contributor in future seasons. It's worth remembering that because of his injury, he really hasn't played much football in the last few seasons. He appeared in just five games over his last two seasons at Fresno State, so it may take him some time to regain his comfort level. Luckily, the Broncos have a solid pair of starting guards in Dalton Risner and Graham Glasgow.
Hi Aric, apart from Jerry Jeudy's obvious route running prowess, what has impressed you most from watching him in person? - Ben L.
Ben, I'll answer your question, but I do want to focus in on his route-running for a second, because I think there are nuances that are worth mentioning. First, Jeudy's routes just look smooth. There's no wasted movement, and he seems to glide down the field at times. Second, he's explosive — whether that's in a head fake to move a cornerback or in the way he comes out of his break. He looks, at times, like he's moving at a different speed than anyone else. And while that was impressive to watch when he was at Alabama, I'm maybe more impressed now that it's coming against tight coverage. Another aspect of his game that's impressed me, though, is his mental toughness and focus. He dropped two catchable passes early in Tuesday's practice, and he responded by making two impressive catches along the sideline. Sometimes players can't get past their first mistake, and they let it impact the rest of a game or practice. Jeudy doesn't seem to be that type of guy.
Hi Aric, I am hearing a lot of good things about Jurrell Casey being a disruptive player for the Denver D which is awesome. If we flip that and look at it from the other side, that should point to a big weakness in the O line. Is he doing that to the first team O? If he is, shouldn't that raise a red flag? - Kevin R.
Kevin, the five-time Pro Bowler has provided a nice interior push and has shown signs that he'll be quite disruptive in the passing game. Isn't that enough? Regardless, I'm not sure I'd say that Casey's good play means the Broncos' interior line has played poorly. Sure, there are snaps when Casey has won, but that's not happening on every play. When you see a tweet about Casey — or really anyone on the team — it's because they made a particularly impressive play. Even if someone were to tweet about Casey three times during practice, that's just three plays during the dozens that they run during each practice. Now, that could be enough to make an impact during the game, but it's not enough to cause concern. Depending on the Broncos' decision at center, I'd think the interior offensive line could a be a strength of this offense. Plus, let's remember that in training camp, offensive lines tend not to use tactics that they'd use in a game, like cutting or methods that prevent D-linemen from knocking passes down.
I was a huge fan of Bausby's play last year before he left the field. He provided solid depth and play, and was good help for others transitioning to Vic's defense. How fortunate is it for this defense to have him back to fill that number three role, especially after such a scary injury? Do you think he is the guy to take that job? - Joshua L.
Joshua, I personally have been most impressed with Bausby among the players competing for the third cornerback spot. He didn't play much last season before being injured, but I thought he was a willing tackler in the run game and he seems to be around the ball a lot during this training camp. He's recorded a couple of interceptions and has several pass breakups. Head Coach Vic Fangio said he wanted the decision at the No. 3 cornerback spot to be obvious, though, so maybe Bausby has more work to do. Fangio did say that Bausby "should be in the best spot he's been in in his career," so we'll see if that lends itself to playing time when Week 1 rolls around. It does seem like both Isaac Yiadom and Davontae Harris are making a push for the spot. On Saturday, Fangio said Harris has "done well here of late."
Who will be the best Bronco going into the 2021 season? - Asher M.
This one's tough, because I have to essentially project the team's development both this season and next offseason. To create a list of possible players, let's first count the existing Pro Bowlers on the roster: Von Miller,Casey, Melvin Gordon III, Phillip Lindsay, A.J. Bouye and Courtland Sutton. Let's also toss in some young players like Drew Lock, Noah Fant, Jeudy,Risner, Bradley Chubb and Justin Simmons. I'm drawn toward Sutton, Fant, Lock, Chubb and Simmons, because I think those players are all on the rise and could take massive steps forward in 2020. I'll then narrow it down to Sutton, Chubb and Simmons, just because I think Lock and Fant still have a step to take to be considered among the best at their position in the league. I think that's an important part of being named the best Bronco. I'm torn between the remaining three players, but I think I'll choose Sutton here because of what I think he'll be able to do with Jeudy in the lineup. We've already seen Sutton get lots of targets in training camp, and even after the talk of how many weapons the Broncos have, I think we'll see this year that the additions actually help Sutton get open more than they hurt his target share. It wouldn't surprise me if he surpasses his 72 catches for 1,112 yards from 2019. The fact that this was such a hard exercise, though, speaks highly about the talent the Broncos now have on the roster and how close they could be to returning to contention.
What will McTelvin Agim give the Broncos this year defensively? - Preston M.
Preston, I'd expect Agim's role to be similar to Dre'Mont Jones' in 2019: a special teams contributor early in the season with the chance to be a rotational player in the defense. Fangio has already noticed that his run defense has improved during training camp, and perhaps as the season progresses, Agim will have a chance to show off his pass-rush abilities that helped him collect 9.5 sacks over his final two seasons at Arkansas. While the rookie does have strides to make, I've been impressed with the interior push he's been able to provide for the defensive line. His 6-foot-3, 309-pound frame also makes it more likely that he can stand up against NFL offensive lineman early in his career.
How will the Broncos two explosive tight ends (Noah Fant and Albert O) be used together offensively for the upcoming season? What will Nick Vannett and other tight ends bring to the offense and how will they be used? - Glade P.
Glade, we took a look at how the Broncos could use their variety of tight ends in a story Tuesday on DenverBroncos.com.