DENVER BRONCOS (5-11)
CAMP SITE: Englewood, Colorado
LAST YEAR: The Broncos extended their playoff drought to five seasons since winning Super Bowl 50, a record dry spell after a championship. They lost both the heart and soul of their team when OLB Von Miller (ankle) got hurt just before the opener and WR Courtland Sutton (knee) went down in Week 2. The Broncos hobbled through another trying season marked by more poor quarterback play, coronavirus crises — one of which led to them having no quarterbacks for a game against New Orleans — and a rash of injuries, especially in the secondary.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: GM George Paton, QB Teddy Bridgewater, CB Patrick Surtain II, RB Javonte Williams, CB Ronald Darby, CB Kyle Fuller, CB RB Mike Boone, DL Shamar Stephen, OL Quinn Meinerz, LB Baron Browning, S Caden Sterns, S Jamar Johnson, LB Jonathon Cooper, executive director of football operations Kelly Klein, the highest-ranking woman in football operations at an NFL club.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: RT Ja’Wuan James, RB Phillip Lindsay, OT Elijah Wilkinson, TE Nick Vannett, DL Jurrell Casey, CB A.J. Bouye, DE DeMarcus Walker, S Will Parks, LB Joe Jones, OLB Jeremiah Attaochu, longtime trainer Steve “Greek” Antonopulos, who retired after 45 years with the franchise.
CAMP NEEDS: Health is top of mind for the Broncos this summer as Miller and Sutton try to return to their pre-injury stardom. They are joined by Pro Bowl OLB Bradley Chubb, who underwent ankle surgery over the summer shortly after the Broncos picked up his fifth-year option that guarantees him a $12.716 million salary for the 2022 season.
KEY CAMP COMPETITIONS: While there’s some intrigue as to which journeyman veteran will replace James at right tackle, all eyes are on yet another quarterback clash in Denver. This time, it’s incumbent Drew Lock trying to fend off Bridgewater, whom Paton acquired on the eve of the 2021 NFL draft, about 24 hours before speculation began swirling that disgruntled Packers star Aaron Rodgers could land in Denver. Both Lock and Bridgewater are trying to bounce back from bad 2020 seasons and injuries — right shoulder for Lock, right knee for Bridgewater.
EXPECTATIONS: No matter who's barking out the offensive play calls, the Broncos are hopeful their half-decade playoff drought will end thanks to a superb secondary that Paton rebuilt by loading up on cornerbacks, signing franchise-tagged safety Justin Simmons and re-signing safety Kareem Jackson. The secondary especially has a chance to shine if Miller and Chubb both stay healthy. They've only played four games together since 2019. Offensively, the Broncos are loaded at receiver and feel good about their ground game so long as their line holds up behind 2020 breakout star Garett Bolles.
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