Training camp for the Denver Broncos is well underway. As is standard with training camp, some players are really standing out both in a good way and in a bad.
This is a time for players to really make a push for the roster if they are sitting at or near the bottom of the depth chart, or guys at the top fighting to maintain their spot. So far, the Broncos have had four training camp practices and there are a number of players standing out in both a positive and negative way.
Let’s round ’em up.
Stock Up: Trinity Benson, WR
Starting up right away was Benson, who has made big splash plays every day of practice so far. He has been hard for the majority of cornerbacks to hang with.
Benson has really good speed and it seems that his route running has also taken a large jump forward. There was always a chance for Benson to make the roster, but it was as a special teams player, but that may no longer be the case with the next player having their stock plummeting.
Stock Down: Tyrie Cleveland, WR
While Benson is making big plays for the offense, Cleveland is limiting them. He’s had a drop on a big play each day so far in camp and that is killer with how many receivers the Broncos have pushing for a roster spot. The good thing for Cleveland is it is still really early for camp, but he has to cut down on the drops.
Stock Up: Justin Strnad, ILB
Before he got hurt last year and missed the season, Strnad was consistently getting praise during training camp and that is the case again this year. On Day 1 it was mentioned multiple times how he was flying all over the field and making what would be big plays for the defense in a game setting.
Josey Jewell was dealing with a tight groin and held out during Saturday’s practice, and that saw Strnad work with the first team.
Stock Down: KJ Hamler, WR (as a Returner)
Now I want to be very clear on this, Hamler’s stock being down is only as a returner. As a wide receiver, his stock is very much up. He has made big plays and been very hard for any corner to hang with in coverage.
However, as a returner, Hamler is struggling to field punts cleanly. Denver has been clear it wants improvements from the return game, but to get that, you need to field the ball cleanly. Hamler is electric with the ball in his hands and punt returns are a natural way to see his talents unfold on the field. But with him not fielding punts cleanly, his stock as a returner is very much down.
Stock Up: Lloyd Cushenberry, C
After what was a really terrible rookie year, Cushenberry is getting a lot of positive comments. Now in unpadded practices, offensive linemen often get the advantage, but so far, that’s all we have and he is checking all the boxes thus far.
Cushenberry is moving quicker, reacting faster, and seems to have a much better understanding of blocking assignments. Additionally, he seems to be more comfortable calling stuff out pre-snap, which was very hit-or-miss last year.
Stock Down: Quinn Meinerz, IOL
While there was meant to be a battle at center, there isn’t one. Cushenberry has shown he is far ahead of Meinerz and, as head coach Vic Fangio said, Meinerz has to show there should be a competition here.
It seems that Meinerz is struggling with the blocking assignments and the more mental side of things, which really isn’t surprising for a rookie. He is making a huge jump in competition and doing so at a position he never played in college.
Stock Up: McTelvin Agim, DL
There probably isn’t a player from the 2020 draft class who is showing more growth than Agim. When ‘Sosa’ isn’t creating pressure or blowing up run plays (or at least what would be in games), he is getting his hands up and batting down passes.
In the first few days, Agim had a couple tipped balls, but on Day 4, he really came to play. He batted down multiple passes with a couple of them turning into interceptions for the defense, one by Agim himself.
Stock Down: Courtland Sutton, WR
This shouldn’t be shocking at all with Sutton working back from the serious ACL injury he suffered almost a year ago. He has started off slow and has not looked like his usual self out there.
On Day 4 he did have a deep touchdown catch so hopefully, he can take that and start climbing up. The first three days were slow for Sutton, but again, that is not shocking with him coming back from injury and no cause for alarm.
Stock Up: Patrick Surtain II, CB
Denver seems to know exactly how to use Surtain and it is what is called the star position. He isn’t really a corner, but not a safety either. He will do a lot for the Broncos secondary and looks to be the team’s answer for tight ends this season.
So far in camp, he has looked like a long-time veteran out there and that is exactly what the Broncos need. Denver will rely on its secondary a lot, and Surtain especially with the talented tight ends the Broncos will face this season.
Stock Down: Mike Purcell, DL
Now, this isn’t just because of the ankle sprain Purcell suffered during practices. In fact, he has almost nothing to do with that. It deals more so with the fact this is a team that will likely be in nickel or dime packages 80-90% of the time, which means no nose tackle and could hurt Purcell.
To get Surtain on the field, it will mean that, more often than not, Purcell is coming off. That leads to Purcell’s stock is down.
Quarterback Stock Report
There wasn’t much separation between the two quarterbacks fighting for the starting job through the first three days, but Day 4 saw a big gap open up. Let’s break it down day by day.
Day 1: Both quarterbacks protected the ball and moved the offense well. Drew Lock made a few bigger throws than Teddy Bridgewater, while Bridgewater was more consistent. This day ended with a score of 5-5, which is a push for the two.
Day 2: This was a bad day for Lock as he started out all over the place. He did bounce back to the end of practice with a couple of touchdowns, but Bridgewater was consistent throughout in moving the ball. This day ended with the score being 7.5-2.5 for Bridgewater.
Day 3: ‘Steady Teddy’ showed up once more, but it took a while before he attempted a pass beyond 10 yards. He seemed even more overly safe than usual. While he was doing that, Lock was making big deep throws and protecting the football. Both had good days, but Lock took Day 3 by a score of 6-4.
Day 4: Neither of the two quarterbacks had thrown an interception yet, but that changed. Bridgewater was picked off three times, almost four, on the day and just completely fell flat on his face during team drills. Lock made big plays, protected the football, and was on fire as he chained two good practices back-to-back. The day ended with a score of 9.5-0.5 for Lock and the only reason it wasn’t a 10-0 was Bridgewater did have a couple of big passes early and had a touchdown pass dropped.
Brett Rypien: He is who he is. Rypien threw the first interception of camp, but has also made some good plays out there. So far, he remains the clear No. 3 guy at quarterback.
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