Posted Tue Sep 6th by Monty
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Starters: Kevin Vickerson, Brodrick Bunkley
Backups: Ty Warren, Marcus Thomas, Ryan McBean, Mitch Unrein
Analysis: The Broncos’ position of greatest weakness has also been hit hardest by injuries. While it’s possible Marcus Thomas and Brodrick Bunkley could return to practice this week, star free agent pickup Ty Warren isn’t a lock to return in 2011 at all. The Broncos have kept him on the roster in hopes he will, though, with a 10-12 week timeline given from the time of his triceps injury just over a week ago. … The Broncos may enter their season opener against the Oakland Raiders with Vickerson, McBean, and Unrein as the sole interior defensive linemen. Let’s hope they can get some healthy aid before then; that isn’t a pretty picture.
Starters: Robert Ayers, Elvis Dumervil
Backups: Jason Hunter, Derrick Harvey
Analysis: Both Ayers and Dumervil move from their roles as 3-4 outside linebackers to defensive ends in the 4-3. Dumervil is familiar and has found success with the position, while this is a new development in Ayers’ professional career. It may be well-suited, though; Ayers was scouted by many teams as a 4-3 end, and following the 2009 draft Josh McDaniels evenly publicly said Ayers was drafted to be a defensive lineman (a proclamation, of course, that turned out not to be true). Expect a healthy mix of rookie Von Miller in pass rushing situations here as well.
Starters: Von Miller (Sam), D.J. Williams (Will), Joe Mays (Mike)
Backups: Mike Mohamed (Sam), Wesley Woodyard (Will), Mario Haggan, Nate Irving (Mike)
Analysis: What the Broncos’ linebackers lack in experience they make up for in talent and potential. Truly, I expect it to be one of the deeper and more productive units on the Broncos squad. Joe Mays has been tabbed by many around the league to have a breakout year, and Von Miller is the odds-on favorite for Defensive Rookie of the Year. If D.J. Williams can get healthy soon and excel his game from “great” to “elite” status, this Broncos linebacker corps will be formidable indeed.
Starters: Champ Bailey, Andre Goodman
Backups: Cassius Vaughn, Jonathan Wilhite, Chris Harris
Analysis: For all the credit Champ Bailey and Andre Goodman receive, they are still wholly underrated by the mainstream media in my mind. The utter lack of pass rush crippled this secondary in 2010, but the pass-rushing combination of Miller and Dumervil promises to give Bailey and Goodman many more big play opportunities. … Bailey has been lining up as nickel cornerback against three wide receiver sets in the preseason, a curious move that has proved effective so far. The recent addition of Jonathan Wilhite, a young but experienced nickelback from New England, may see the Broncos adjust this plan of attack.
Starters: Brian Dawkins, Rahim Moore
Backups: Quinton Carter, David Bruton
Analysis: What a hit. Rahim Moore‘s decimation of Bills WR Donald Jones in the preseason is still ringing in my ears (one can only imagine how Jones is feeling). Moore is a rookie and so will make rookie mistakes, but he’s shown promise in the preseason beyond the hit that’s defined his career thus far. … It was a tough 2010 for Brian Dawkins, and clearly the beginning of the end. One hopes he can return to form, but the Broncos may be relying on their pass rush to mask the weaknesses of their too-old/too-young safety tandem.
Kicker: Matt Prater
Punter: Britton Colquitt
Longsnapper: Lonie Paxton
Analysis: Matt Prater is one of the league’s best, and has boldly made his personal goal of a Pro Bowl in 2011 public. … Britton Colquitt had a phenomenal preseason. … A solid, underrated group in Denver, high altitude be damned.
Punt Returner: Eddie Royal, Eric Decker
Kick Returner: Cassius Vaughn, Lance Ball
Analysis: Everyone knows Royal is always a threat to take it the distance.
On to the 2011 Season Prediction…