Editor's note: DenverBroncos.com sat down with the assistant coaches to talk about their position groups before the coaches left Dove Valley for vacations in mid-June.
How has the addition of Wes Welker impacted your receiving corps?"Oh, he's been great. He's been a welcome addition to the room. Obviously, he's one of the best slot receivers to ever play the game. He brings veteran leadership to the room and up to this point, everything's worked well with those guys."
You have three guys who all caught 1,000 yards worth of passes last year. Are you concerned at all about how they'll handle sharing touches?"No, I'm never concerned about the sharing, I'm always more concerned about the winning. Those guys will tell you the same thing. Each one of them, individually or collectively, they'll tell you the same thing. They just want to win. We all just want to win. As far as who's getting the touches, those will come and go because some people will concentrate more on one receiver than another at different points in the game. It's a matter of how, as the game goes along, who gets the feel for what the best matchup that we have and we'll exploit that matchup."
How does having three different receivers who all can beat you affect an opposing defense?"I think it's a harder situation to game plan for because we'll be able to throw the ball to anyone. We have good tight ends as well, the running backs have good hands out of the backfield, and if they play too conservatively on defense, we'll be able to run the ball. We feel pretty good about where we are offensively."
How much does the continuity of having a second year with a similar offensive system and with Demaryius Thomas at quarterback help the offense play faster?"It helps a great deal. You alluded earlier to the fact that we had three receivers who had 1,000 yards. (Decker and Thomas) were here, obviously. Those guys (in their first year working with Manning) had 1,000 yards apiece and were the youngest tandem in the history of the NFL to do that. I think in year two, when they know Peyton a little bit more and Peyton knows them a little bit more – and the welcome addition of Wes, as well as the tight ends we have – it's a recipe for even greater success."
*What are some of the challenges that come with running an up-tempo offense for the wideouts? *"The challenge for my group is the fact that two of my guys are bigger guys. We're going to play fast and go at a high tempo, so from a stamina standpoint, we have to be in great shape. Not only when we're on the road, but especially here at home at a mile high. We're here, we train in it, we're used to it, so it shouldn't affect us more than the other people. I think that those guys, when they leave here from minicamp and get ready for training camp, they have to continue to keep themselves in top shape. I think (Strength and Conditioning Coach) Luke Richesson and his group have done a great job of getting those guys in shape, and they have to maintain that throughout the summer in order to be ready to go when we come back for training camp."
Do you look forward to seeing what that up-tempo offense can do?"Oh yeah. I'm always excited about our offense. Every year, I'm a total glass half-full guy, so I'm the ultimate optimist when it comes to what I'm doing and what we're doing offensively. But I'm looking forward to the up-tempo. I think it's going to be a real strain on defenses to be able to get the calls they want to get called, so they'll have to simplify more. I think, with the altitude, you'll see guys trying to sub and we can quick-snap the ball and catch them with 12, 13, even 14 men on the field at some point in time. I think we're definitely at the advantage in that regard."
What have you seen from some of other receivers in your group outisde of Thomas, Decker and Welker?"I think (Andre) 'Bubba' Caldwell has really turned the page this past spring. I think he's made a lot of good plays for us this spring. He's not only been able to sub in for Demaryius, but also for Demaryius Thomas. I think Greg Orton has shown some promise. Gerell Robinson really impressed me because we had him in training camp last year and he was gone to another team on the practice squad throughout the year. He came back and the amount of recall he had with the offense was really impressive, so he's done a really good job as far as that's concerned. I think Trindon Holliday can get in the game in spots and we can exploit defenses with his speed and his running skills. Tavarres King, he's a fifth round draft pick and he was hampered earlier with an injury, but he's since come on and he's getting more reps to see what he can do. I think all the guys, from top to bottom, are doing a pretty good job in that next group."
What attributes did you see from Tavarres King in college?"He has stretch-the-field, playmaking speed. He hasn't been able to show that as much in spring because of the injury he's had, but he can stretch the field. We obviously know that he played in – in my opinion – the best conference in college in the SEC – so he's played against top notch competition week-in and week-out, and that's the same type of competition that he's going to see in the NFL. I think he's probably more NFL-ready from a rookie standpoint than the other guys because of the competition that he's played against."
How does competing against this team's secondary in practice help your guys get better?"It helps them a great deal. You've got a first-ballot Hall of Famer in Champ Bailey on the offensive right-hand side, and then you've got Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – boy, he's come in and he's got the size at 6'2 and the speed. He's got really good feet for a tall guy. So, in that regard, it helps us be able to get ready with those guys on the field. One of the most competitive guys on the team is Chris Harris Jr. in the slot – or wherever he is on the field – he's one of the most competitive guys I've ever been around. That helps us a great deal because when game time comes around, it'll be much easier for the receivers to go out and make plays because we play against some of the best in practice every day."
What have the matchups in practice between Welker and Harris been like so far?"There's been give and take, definitely. Wes gets the best of Chris sometimes, Chris gets the best of Wes sometimes. Those are two really fireball, competitive-type guys, and it's fun to watch. They get competitive and they're only going to make each other better once the season starts."
How do you think the extra year with Peyton throwing the ball is going to help your whole unit get better?"I think it's going to help a great deal because you have think about the fact that Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison and those guys spent probably 8-10 years with Peyton doing the same thing. Well we just were in year one and Decker and Demaryius both had 1,000 yards, so if we can take what we did last year and keep improving on it – I think the sky's the limit for those guys."