Denver Broncos | News

Mason's Mailbag: The speed-rush package, Devontae Booker, Marlon Brown and more

You can tweet questions to me with the hashtag #AskMase or use the submission form to your right (if you're viewing on a standard browser) or at the bottom of the page if you're on the mobile site.

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Will we see more of the "NASCAR" package with Shane Ray, DeMarcus Ware, Shaquil Barrett and Von Miller on the field together?**

-- William Jenkins

It's another tool in the drawer, but not necessarily one you can expect to see that often, simply because its initial use against New Orleans was out of necessity. Derek Wolfe's absence forced Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips to get creative as he tried to generate pressure from the inside; that led to using two edge rushers as inside rushing options, and led to a Shaquil Barrett sack.

But Wolfe is healthy now after recovering from the elbow injury, so the factor that led to the package's installation doesn't exist.

"I'd hesitate to take him out of the game if he's healthy," Phillips said. "But it was something we needed to do with our inside pass rusher basically out."

With Wolfe back, you might see the package as a curveball that Phillips sparingly throws, but it's unlikely to be any more than that.

It might not be exactly as Atlanta does it, but utilizing Devontae Booker or Kapri Bibbs on screen passes would be a good way to help the offense take the edge off an opposing pass rush. While neither has the dynamic stop-and-start quickness of injured starter C.J. Anderson, both can pick up yardage in space, and Booker's long stride allows him to pick up clumps of yardage in a hurry if you can get blockers in front of him.

Given the assessment and evaluation that always takes place around the bye week, I think you'll see some different wrinkles Sunday night; this could be one of them.

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Have really liked what we have seen from Jordan Taylor. How will the signing of Marlon Brown affect his playing time and that of the other receivers?**

-- Angela Hlavka

In the short term (i.e. this week), I don't expect Brown to affect the playing time or Taylor or any other receiver. Although Kubiak has said that Brown is ready to play in terms of his knowledge of the scheme, he also said that he likes the six incumbent receivers who have been active most of the season.

"I like the way our six [receivers] have been playing," Kubiak said Thursday. "We've got a very competitive situation right there and kind of a loaded situation right there on our football team. We'll just keep it going, but I think he could [play] if we needed him to."

Beyond that, it would seem that Brown could affect the playing time of other receivers on the back end of the depth chart. After the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 receivers (Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Jordan Norwood), Taylor has played most often, with 134 offensive snaps, ahead of Bennie Fowler's 126 and Cody Latimer's 113. (Fowler, however, has averaged 15.8 snaps since returning from an elbow injury in Week 3; Taylor averages 13.4 offensive snaps per game). Latimer has a higher per-game average than both (16.1 snaps), but he is the only wide receiver to be a healthy scratch so far this season.

Further, if you look solely at the last four games -- which include three in which Latimer was inactive -- Taylor played more snaps than Fowler each time, accumulating 57 repetitions to Fowler's 47. Norwood had more snaps than those two combined, seeing 119 repetitions -- including 86 in the last two games.

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It seems that the entire Broncos 2016 draft class has contributed in some way to the team this year except Connor McGovern. With the offensive line's struggles it would seem he'd get some playing time. What is going on with his development?**

-- Paul Kane

His development is coming along fine, but he's taking a path more typical for offensive linemen under Gary Kubiak and/or Rick Dennison than we've seen the last two years, with one year of development before being pushed into action, similar to what we saw from contributors like Ben Hamilton, Chris Kuper and Chris Myers in the 2000s.

The biggest thing for McGovern is learning how to handle multiple positions. Kubiak said Nov. 14 that the coaches are working McGovern at center as well as at guard; he needs that versatility to take the first step: being active on game days.

Unless a wave of injuries strike in the next six weeks, the key juncture for McGovern's development will be in the coming offseason and training camp. If he can push for a starting spot then, his development will be on course.

Now, a response to last week's suggestions about improving the flow of games:

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(1) Cut the TV breaks. A team scores a TD and extra point. Break for four minutes of commercials. Come back for kickoff... and ONLY kickoff. Break for four minutes of commercials. Call a 30-second timeout... break for at least two minutes of commercials. (2) A player is down on the field and medical personnel come out, break for four minutes of commercials even though he is taken off the field long before the commercials are over. (3) Tell the replay officials that if they can't find enough evidence to reverse a call within 30-45 seconds, the play should stand.**

-- Paul Watson

Cutting the TV breaks, of course, is what I suggested, having fewer overall breaks that are each a bit longer, because realistically, you're not going to be able to cut the overall number of commercials, just how they're spaced.

As for your second point, commercial breaks when players are injured don't last that long. Usually, the breaks are only half the time you suggest. So I don't think that's a solution that's much impact.

There is some sentiment for your third suggestion regarding limiting the time on instant-replay reviews, but that brings about the age-old conundrum -- do you want the job done right, or do you want it done fast? I'd prefer to improve the game flow in other areas that don't hinder getting as many calls right as is reasonably possible.

As a long-time Bronco fan, and current Savannah Ga. resident, I will be taking advantage of the rare occasion that Denver will be playing in Jacksonville. Do you have any advice about how to try and get some autographs? I will be at Everbank Stadium all day long.

P.S. Also you, Phil Milani and the rest of your crew do an awesome job covering Our Denver Broncos.

-- D.J. Denney

First, we all thank you.

As for getting autographs, your best bet is to arrive when the gates open and then stake out a spot around the tunnel through which the Broncos will enter and exit the field. In the 11 a.m. EST hour, usually you'll see players come and go for their early warmups before the team-wide warmups in the 12 p.m. hour. Plenty of players stop and sign autographs for fans as they enter and exit the field during the 11 a.m. hour, when the pace is more laid-back.

If it strikes your fancy, you can also catch a glimpse of our live show, which will begin at roughly 11:25 a.m.

Submit a question for the next Mailbag!

The analysis, opinion and speculation in this story represents that of the author, gathered through research and reporting, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Denver Broncos organization.

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