Denver Broncos on the hot seat in 2014

Credit: Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports

Training camp is finally upon us.

The 2014 Denver Broncos have very high expectations.

The Broncos will once again be a favorite to contend for Super Bowl XLIX this year being played in Phoenix, Arizona. But with those high expectations for the team come high expectations for individual players as well.

There are players that will need to perform at a high level in order to keep their current jobs or they could be training camp casualties.

Take the case of backup quarterback Brock Osweiler. Selected in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Osweiler has spent two seasons watching Peyton Manning, and making sure not to drop his clipboard. He has rarely seen the field except in rare mop-up duty and the preseason. But Osweiler hasn’t exactly been impressive when he has played. Playing in eight preseason games Osweiler has managed just a single touchdown, three interceptions, and a paltry 65.5 quarterback rating. In his rookie season he was outplayed by Adam Weber and last year rookie Zac Dysert showed more promise.

This season the Broncos have Dysert back again plus rookie Bryn Renner, an undrafted free agent from North Carolina, who the Broncos have been impressed by early on.

While we know that if Peyton Manning goes down there is going to be a significant drop off, it would be nice to know the Broncos could survive a few series with a back-up at the helm.
Osweiler needs more production this preseason or the Broncos may be forced to go with someone else.

Another player that will have to give the Broncos a reason to keep him is defensive back Omar Bolden. Bolden has failed to make much of a dent in the depth chart through his first two seasons. Through two full seasons he has just 27 tackles and a single pass defended.

The Broncos had hoped Bolden could develop into a versatile contributor on defense and maybe give their special teams a boost with his ability as a kick returner. So far neither has materialized. With the current depth that the Broncos now have at defensive back, Bolden may struggle to even earn enough playing time to show the coaches what he can do.

The Denver Broncos are going to have some tough decisions to make at the wide receiver position. Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, and Emmanuel Sanders are shoe-ins, but after that, things get a little more clouded. Andre Caldwell rebounded from his 2012 one catch season to have 16 catches for three touchdowns in 2013.

But with the influx of young wideouts like Cody Latimer, Isaiah Burse, and Bennie Fowler, it will take a big effort from Caldwell to retain a spot on the depth chart. He does have the ability to play outside or in the slot, which might be a big benefit in training camp.

Duke Ihenacho could be going from first to worst. A year ago Ihenacho started 14 games at strong safety and racked up 73 tackles. But as the season wore on the Broncos coaching staff seemed to grow less and less enamored with the second-year player out of San Jose State.

His playing time began to decrease toward the end of the season as the Broncos chose to go with special teams ace David Bruton instead.

Now the Broncos have added some depth at the strong safety position. T.J. Ward is the obvious upgrade. Ward is a former Pro-Bowler and second team All-Pro that should immediately fortify the Broncos defensive backfield.

But a more subtle move that the Broncos made might have been the signing of former Oregon Duck John Boyett. Boyett is a playmaker with a penchant for delivering big hits to opposing offensive players. He began to make a name for himself while still at the University of Oregon where he took over for a player who departed for the NFL Draft. One T.J. Ward.

With Ward, Boyett, and the aforementioned Bruton, Ihenacho is going to have to make some big plays to stay on this season’s roster.

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