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Mason's Mailbag: WR depth, the Hall of Fame Game, and more

As always, 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.

He's having his best training camp, catching almost everything thrown his way and playing with a confidence that he lacked in his first two seasons. Some players just take some time or need some changes around them in order to develop.

Now he says he's doing less thinking; he's settled and he's just playing. Thanks to his work on special teams last year, he established a base of success; he knew from his work there that he was good enough to play in the NFL. The rest has flowed from finding his comfort zone in the offense.

"This year, it's like a fresh start for me," he said. "If I mess up, I mess up, but I'm going to run fast and play fast and make plays."

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With all the depth at the wide receiver position emerging. Would it better serve Elway to sign and trade them before cutting them in after preseason?**

-- Richard Murray

They're already signed to contracts, so the "sign and trade" concept is irrelevant. Further, while there is depth, it took a hit with Bennie Fowler's fractured elbow suffered Thursday against Chicago.

Further, trading isn't as simple as saying, "Hey, we're a good team that has a surplus of players; teams will beat down their door for them." It doesn't work that way.

Teams often look to trade from positions of depth at this time of year to add extra draft picks, usually in the later rounds. But deals are difficult to strike because if one team offers up a player, the other might ask, "Why are they offering him?" and opt to wait and see if that player is waived or released, and which point that other team might then be able to add the player without losing a pick.

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The defense has stated their intention to be and perform even better than last season. My question is: Are they facing an offense each day in practice that is formidable and comparable enough to enable them to do so? Without the contributions and challenge of a now retired, future HOF QB and therefore the resulting plays within the offense to sharpen the defensive iron... Does the defense have that realistic opportunity outside of real game-time situations?**

-- Dawne B

It's not just about facing the quarterback. It's about one-on-one matchups throughout the offense. And when you're talking about an offense that has three skill-position players who have been to the Pro Bowl in the last two seasons (Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and C.J. Anderson) and a left tackle who has a Pro Bowl season in his past and has started the last six seasons with another elite team (Seattle) and a young center in Matt Paradis who is already one of the smartest and toughest players in the NFL at his position, then the challenge faced by the defense every day would appear to be more than adequate to get them ready. This offense isn't exactly chopped liver.

Besides, the defense can lean on its postseason work against two likely Hall of Fame quarterbacks (Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady) and the reigning NFL MVP (Cam Newton) to remind them of what they can do against quarterbacks firmly established in the sport's elite.

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My question has to do with the Hall of Fame game. My friend Gary and I were talking at work yesterday about this annual event. How are the two teams picked? Watched it all these years and have never heard an explanation to this.**

-- Art Nixon

Historically, there was no set pattern, although in 1995, 1999 and 2002, it had expansion teams make their debuts in that game (Carolina and Jacksonville in 1999, the reborn Browns in 1999 and the Texans in 2002). In 2009, to commemorate the 50th season since the founding of the AFL, two original AFL franchises, the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans (formerly Houston Oilers) dueled.

But in recent years, the league has tried to have at least one of the teams in the game have a member of that year's Pro Football Hall of Fame class. Denver's participation in the 2004 game was a prime example; the Broncos fell 20-17 to Washington one day after John Elway's induction.

Last week's cancelled game between the Packers and Colts fit that bill with both teams, as Brett Favre, Marvin Harrison and Tony Dungy were among this year's inductees.

The 2007 Pro Football Hall of Fame game between the Steelers and Saints is the last to include two teams that did not have anyone going into the Hall that weekend. Every other game since then has seen at least one team have a player inducted.

Because the previous voice, Alan Roach, now is the public-address announcer for his home-state Minnesota Vikings after being at the mic for the last eight seasons after replacing Alan Cass in the full-time role.

C'mon. Sign Emmanuel Sanders already. Don't need that frustration next off-season. Any word? Things seem to have gone silent on that front. He's a tough player with a fun, team-worthy attitude. The perfect mix. What's the hold-up?

-- Scott Hastings

You're confusing public silence with inactivity.

Many successful negotiations happen without a whisper to the public -- just look at the Chris Harris Jr. and Derek Wolfe re-signings as examples -- and in fact, not having details leak can be preferable in getting a contract done.


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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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