The issues of zone blocking itself and the personnel for it are now well covered. The next step is considering the personnel that will be carrying the ball. These were David Hooper’s preferred qualities of running backs for the zone blocking scheme:
In 2013, the Broncos needed to make a few changes on the offensive line. Manny Ramirez did a better job at center than J.D. Walton had. Chris Clark impressed at left tackle as Ryan Clady's understudy.
In 2014, Denver wanted to play its five best starters, so Clady was back at left tackle with Clark on the right side, although there were potential problems there. The Broncos entered minicamp looking to move Orlando Franklin, formerly the right takle, to left guard.
Understandably, the Broncos wanted to see if Clark could do equally well on the right edge. They brought in Winston Justice to ‘give him competition'. Unfortunately, left and right tackle often require different body types. They need different skillsets, too.
The news on Nate Irving’s torn MCL - that he was placed on IR and won’t return - saddened but didn’t surprise me. I’m sorry for the man, and I hope he recovers quickly and completely. I have a lot of respect for Nate.
But he won’t be back in orange this year, and his contract is up after the season. Denver may move on.
As we talked about on Thursday, Denver’s been using a three-safety look. T.J. Ward has been handling a SS/LB role when they’re in nickel. Quinton Carter has taken over SS, with Rahim Moore at FS. It’s a good option. Corey Nelson has taken some snaps in relief, as has Lamin Barrow. Both are rookies, and neither is at the level of Danny Trevathan, Brandon Marshall, or Von Miller, which is no insult.
The Broncos' promotion of Kapri Bibbs to the active roster was a response to reported interest from the Bills, who lost two backs to injury last week. Denver now has five active running backs, four of whom aren’t badly injured.
Ronnie Hillman leads the group for now, with Juwan Thompson backing him up. C.J. Anderson, with only 13 carries in the last three games, has apparently dropped to the third string. What can we expect from each, now that we’ve seen all but Bibbs in game situations?
Bibbs is an impressive young runner. He’s missing the receiving and pass protection aspects of his game. Those, along with building the NFL body that coach Fox likes to mention, are the things that he should be working on. It’s a full time job.
When the news broke that Danny Trevathan would go out with an injury, so did the hearts of many Denver Broncos fans. Last summer, Terrance ‘Pot Roast’ Knighton was asked who the most important defensive player was. Without hesitation, he named Danny Trevathan.
The only good news was that Denver was flush with talented young linebackers. They have Von Miller back from injury and starting to develop his old skills, while Nate Irving is opening some eyes. Denver’s young linebackers looked good in camp and preseason.
Denver had again picked up a quality player. This time, the lowly Jaguars didn’t see a future for him. Richard Smith and Jack Del Rio disagreed. As I’ve said before, I don’t argue with those two regarding linebacking.
Outside of an injury to Peyton Manning, Danny Trevathan is one of the toughest players for the Broncos to lose. The good news is that this isn’t a dangerous injury - it will take a month or two to heal, but it could have been vastly worse.
Trevathan had been fighting for his professional life since leaving college. Two years ago, he fought through a pulled hamstring to perform his combine drills. Yet, all the pundits seemed to see was a guy who was too small, too light, and too slow.
Denver got him into camp and found that without the pulled hamstring, he was a lot faster. The player who had led the SEC in tackles for the previous two seasons was showing signs that he was a lot more than a small, slow linebacker. He still tackled just as much.
Sometimes it’s fate, karma, written in the stars, or whatever you prefer. Brandon Markieth Marshall was born on Sept 10, 1989 in Las Vegas, NV.
Vegas, love or hate it, has Lady Luck for its unofficial deity. An injury that’s bad for the Broncos has another side. A player drafted in 2012 by Jacksonville and waived three times now has first shot at a possible starting job on a SB contender. He lived on and off Jacksonville and Denver’s practice squads, which may be a blessing. He's had time to learn.
Denver has a plethora of options in Lamin Barrow, Lerentee McCray, Corey Nelson, and others. Marshall earned his second squad berth behind the injured Danny Trevathan; now he's going to try and hold off all comers to win the starting slot at the Will.
Hello, IAOFM staff! First, I just wanted to say thank you for continuing to be the best source there is for Broncos news and analysis. Your recent article on TJ Ward and what he'll be able to do for us this season was particularly great (can't wait to see him in action!), and I was writing to ask if you may be willing to do a similar sort of preview for the O-Line, based on a mix of last year's performances and what you've seen/heard from TC so far?
That seems to be our weak spot at the moment based on early camp reports, though I'm sure they're slower to adjust due to having two guys learning new positions, but I would just love to hear your thoughts on whether or not there's anything to worry about there, and what this newly retooled group's strengths and weaknesses may be this year.
A commenter recently slammed me for having a continuing interest in the tight end position. Properly used, I’d said, it’s a major way to improve your offense. The commenter responded that the position is nearly useless and will be phased out over the next decade.
In return, I noted Sid Gillman’s point that having two good TEs can let a team control the middle of the field. No shots were fired, but no agreement was reached, either.
The New England Patriots recently had two very good tight ends who did a lot of damage to opposing defenses, prompting teams to start looking at the position in earnest. The demand for good tight ends went up like a helium balloon. Rumors of the position’s demise were exaggerated. Having multiple effective tight ends is strongly back in vogue.
When someone visiting Dove Valley asks who will play right tackle, they’re going to get a stock answer.
Ryan Clady and Louis Vasquez will start at their traditional slots. Orlando Franklin will will start at left guard. Manny Ramirez leads at center going into training camp. Chris Clark has earned the right to head the right tackle depth chart going into camp, with Winston Justice his first competition.
Beyond those factors, it’s wide open.