Broncos have refurbished digs, but best upgrade is on offense
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — When the Denver Broncos reported to training camp they were met by cushy new team and position meeting rooms and an expanded training room that features two cryogenic chambers and a flotation pod along with other amenities courtesy of a $9.5 million facilities face-lift that capped a five-year, $45 million renovation.
An even bigger upgrade is the $56 million one on offense.
General manager John Elway signed quarterback Case Keenum to a two-year, $36 million deal and acquired right tackle Jared Veldheer from Arizona.
Then, he bolstered his backfield by drafting running back Royce Freeman out of Oregon and receivers Courtland Sutton of SMU and DaeSean Hamilton of Penn State.
They are the pillars of a 10-member draft class that’s led by first-rounder Bradley Chubb and has already drawn raves for its depth of talent and knowledge. All 10 spent four years in college honing their crafts, a reversal of last year’s draft class that was loaded with projects and problems.
The Broncos haven’t bolstered their offense like this since the Peyton Manning era, and with Keenum, they’re no longer bogged down by a QB competition like they were each of the last two summers — unless you count Paxton Lynch and Chad Kelly’s battle for the backup job.
“We’re a better football team,” Elway said Friday on the eve of training camp. “We have some better depth. I think Case is a big part of that. … Now, we have to all come together. It’s about getting continuity on the offensive line as well as the young wide receivers getting up to speed. As well as the young running back.
“So, offensively, I’m excited about it, especially with Case” leading the way.
So is coach Vance Joseph.
“I think it’s huge to have a starting quarterback in place,” Joseph said. “In at league that’s built for parity, from the top to the bottom of the roster every team’s got talent. But the one position that makes a huge difference is quarterback. And we do have one in place. So, that’s exciting for our team.”
No more splitting snaps. No more getting used to two different cadences or throwing styles.
And no more wondering.
“It’s given us clarity for our football team,” Joseph said. “We’re not guessing who the quarterback’s going to be. We’re not guessing who the leader’s going to be.”
In Sutton and Hamilton, the Broncos finally have receivers who can not only take pressure off Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders but also apply some pressure to the veteran starters who were smothered by D-backs last season.
“Adding those two young guys, they’re going to help us,” Joseph said. “In this league it’s about matchups, it’s about getting 1-on-1s. When you have two guys and you have no tight end threat, not halfback threat, the defense can easily bracket those two guys.
“When you have three and you have a guy like Jake Butt in the slot, it’s going to be hard for teams to do that.”
Butt missed his rookie season while recovering from ACL surgery, which caused him to slip into the fifth round in the 2017 NFL draft. But the Broncos believe that if he can stay healthy, his presence is like adding a first-round talent to the offense.
The Broncos jettisoned veteran C.J. Anderson in the offseason in a cost-cutting move, leaving a group of running backs long on promise but short on experience, including rookies Freeman, David Williams and Philip Lindsay along with second-year pro De’Angelo Henderson and third-year pro Devontae Booker.
“It’s a young group, but I like that,” Joseph said. “From a halfback perspective, you want guys who are young because that means they are healthy. Healthy. Willing. Open-minded.”
Notes: Joseph said it’s up to WR Carlos Henderson, who failed to report to camp, whether he has a future in Denver: “He’s having some family problems right now and it’s strictly on Carlos whether he wants to continue to play football.” … Joseph said LG Ron Leary (knee) and RT Veldheer (foot) will both be eased into the lineup. The only player on PUP will be WR Jordan Taylor, still recovering from hip surgeries.
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Maya Lindgren had always considered herself “more of a softball girl,” until she started getting some serious looks on the basketball court during her junior season at Roaring Fork High School last year.