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Everything you need to know from the Broncos' pre-camp press conferences

Henry Chisholm Avatar
July 26, 2017

In congruence with Thursday’s start to 2017 training camp, the Denver Broncos hosted a variety of press conferences on Wednesday as a part of their annual media barbecue. John Elway, Joe Ellis and Vance Joseph were all a part of the conference that produced a massive amount of news and BSN Denver was on the scene.

In order to make sure you didn’t miss anything, we here at BSN Broncos have compiled all of the top storylines and quotes.

Here’s what went down:

John Elway gets a new title

After six years as the Broncos’ Executive Vice President of Football Operations/General Manager, Elway got the bump up to President of Football Operations/General Manager. The promotion is part of the Hall-of-Famer’s new five-year contract with the team, but his day-to-day duties won’t change.

Broncos President and CEO Joe Ellis announced Elway’s new role today.

“We’re football first here at the Broncos,” Ellis said, “Obviously, John is our leader of the team, and I think he is definitely deserving of this title elevation. That’s how we’re going to proceed; he will also retain the title of general manager with that. So the official title, [Executive Vice President of Public and Community Relations] Patrick [Smyth]  doesn’t have a release yet, but when he gets it to you, it is President of Football Operations/General Manager.”

Elway shed some light on what his goals are during this new contract.

“We want to keep winning,” Elway said. “Our goal has not changed, and the bottom line is that we want to compete for world championships. That’s what Pat said in 1984, and we’re going to continue that and do everything we can. That’s what our fans expect, and that’s what we expect of ourselves. We’re going to continue to work hard and get ourselves in the middle of it. Hopefully, be the one that rises to the top. Our goal and mission has not changed, and that’s to compete for world championships.”

Quarterback competition starts Thursday

Incumbent Trevor Siemian will work with the starters on Thursday before passing the reins to Paxton Lynch, Friday. Vance Joseph isn’t looking for a timid quarterback.

“Go out and win the job, ” Joseph said. “Football is a game of mistake, and you don’t want a guy being conservative and not wanting to make mistakes because he’s being graded every day. That’s why, in my opinion, time is a good thing. It allows both guys to play enough football without any restraints so we can make a sound decision. If you make it too quick, one guy may be a little tight and one guy may be a little loose but in two weeks it may change. I think time is a good thing to allow both guys to put their best foot forward so we can find the best guy for our football team.”

Joseph hopes to choose a starter before the third preseason game, but can’t guarantee a specific date.

“That would be ideal.  It would be ideal, but again it’s going to play itself out. As far as the quarterback, as those guys compete our football team won’t stop getting better. We’re still tackling; we’re still playing defense, we’re still blocking. So that one position won’t stop this team from getting better. I’m not, again, concerned about time. It’s going to separate itself. Someone is going to show that they’re the best man for our team, and when it does, I’ll call it off.”

Elway added that the starting quarterback will be chosen by Vance Joseph, though he will share his own thoughts.

“Ultimately, it’s Vance’s choice,” Elway said. “I will give my opinion, but even though you make think there’s a lot of differences in opinions, there’s really not. I believe the quarterback position is going to be seen by everyone.”

Running backs battling for playing time

The Broncos are looking for improvement in the running game, after ranking 27th in the NFL last season in rushing yards with 1484. Denver also ranked 2oth in rushing touchdowns (11), 27th in rushing first downs (76) and 28th in yards per carry (3.6). Free agent signee Jamaal Charles and sixth-round pick De’Angelo Henderson join C.J. Anderson, Devontae Booker and Juwan Thompson in the running backs room.

“At running back, obviously we’ve got C.J. [Anderson] and Book [Devontae Booker] taking most of the first and second team reps along with [Juwan] Thompson,” Joseph said. “Jamaal is going to bounce in between the first, second and third team. De’Angelo [Henderson] is also going to get some third team reps. We’re going to run probably three groups, and it’s one practice a day. It’s tough to say how the reps are going to be split up but we’ve got five or six guys that need reps there, so we’ve got to figure that out. It’s going to be divided equally among those guys.”

Joseph hopes Anderson become the Broncos’ lead running back for the entire 2017 season but the 26-year-old running back hasn’t started more than seven games in a season since entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2013.

“He’s proven he’s an NFL running back. He’s got to prove he can play sixteen games and obviously be the bell cow. That’s what I want for C.J., but time is going to tell that. I can’t tell you that from three weeks of training camp, but he’s in great shape. He’s probably in the best shape he’s been in three or four years, and that’s important for him but it’s a crowded room and iron sharpens iron, so he understands that.”

Tight end spots up for grabs

Denver will look for more production out of their tight ends, following a lackluster 2016 campaign. Virgil Green led Broncos tight ends with 22 receptions last season, the fewest by a Broncos lead tight end since Daniel Fells in 2011. Jeff Heuerman, who has been hindered by injuries throughout his two-year career, and A.J. Derby—acquired from the Patriots last season via trade—are prime candidates to take over the starting job, according to Elway.

“Jeff had a good year,” Elway said. “We’re waiting for him to take that big step because we drafted him third round a couple years ago, and obviously he tore the ACL in minicamp the first year. We’re looking at this year as Jeff’s coming out year. Like I said, he had a good spring. Hopefully, he makes that big jump. A.J. got here halfway through the year last year, so we’ve got expectations for him, too. We’re continuing to work on that position and get better. Those young guys have to take a big step for us, and I think they’re ready to do that.”

Doubters providing motivation

Many media outlets expect the Broncos to take another step back this season, including USA Today which predicted a 7-9 finish for Denver, good for last in the AFC West.

“Again, I think we can use it as an advantage to us,” Elway said. “I think I saw one ranking where they had us 24th. Those are the type of things that are going to be out there. We can use them as incentives, and I know our football team and our coaches and myself feel that we have the chance to be a really good football team.”


Injured players coming along

Multiple Broncos enter training camp hindered by injuries. Shaq Barrett, who injured his hip in OTAs and Jake Butt, who is recovering from a torn ACL suffered during the Orange Bowl, are among them.

“We’re not sure,” Elway said. “I know that with Shaq, we’re pleasantly surprised with his recovery. He’s on [the Non-Football Injury list]. We’re hoping to get him back. We’re not sure when. He’s going to start working him into it on the first of August with the trainers and start getting him working that way and then we’ll see the progress. The prognosis of his return is a lot better than what we first heard of the injury, which he could have been out for the whole year. We’re hoping sometime in September. Jake just depends on how fast he can come off that ACL and I think physically he is getting a lot closer. But, you know when you have an ACL (injury), the mental side of it is a big side of it, too. We’re hoping that four to six weeks into it that Jake can come back.”

Matt Paradis, hip surgery, Adam Gotsis, knee scope, and Jamaal Charles, torn ACL,  are all cleared for camp, according to Joseph.

“All three guys were cleared for training camp,” Joseph said. “Matt Paradis, for the first week, he’s only going to do drills and walkthroughs. The same with Adam Gotsis, drills and walkthroughs. As for Jamaal, he’s been cleared for everything. But that being said, we’re not going to push him out there too quickly and burn Jamaal out. We want to continue to go slow with Jamaal. Continue to rehab him and get him strong so we can have Jamaal for the season. That’s my goal for Jamaal, to have him ready in September. All three guys have been cleared, but we’re going to be smart with all three guys.”

Pat Bowlen’s Pro Football Hall of Fame bid

Bowlen was snubbed by the selection committee in the contributor category last season, in favor of former commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. The longtime Broncos owner is considered a favorite to be nominated this year. Denver has won three Super Bowls and posted five losing seasons since Bowlen bought the team in 1984. Ellis believes those accolades, along with his involvement in the business side of the league, warrant a nomination.

“You look at the vision he had for television,” Ellis said, “You can go back to [Former Chairman of NBC Universal Sports] Dick Ebersol, you can go back to David Hill at FOX Sports. Pat was an integralal part of the growth of television in this league and television has been a huge driver for the success of the NFL. Then not only at that, he had his day job which was here. He was here every single day, and that’s not always the case with an owner. His success with this organization speaks for itself, 300 wins in 30 plus years. More Super Bowl appearances then losing seasons. I don’t have all the details in front of me I probably do on the other side of this page but I could go on and on about all of that. He deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That’s as much as you can say. You can’t kick and scream but I think they know that and I’m hopeful that this year is his year.”

Elway echoed Ellis’ thoughts.

“Hopefully this is the year,” Elway said. “As we talked about so many times how much he deserves it, what he’s done for the league, his participation on different committees in the league and the relationships with the commissioners. What Pat has contributed to the NFL has grown it to where it is today. There is no question he deserves to be in there. I know he was really close last year. We’re hoping, and I guess we’ll find out in a month or so. Hopefully, he’s that guy.”

Gary Kubiak’s return to the Broncos as a senior personnel advisor

In his new role, Kubiak will oversee scouting in the southwestern United States from his hometown of Houston. His son, Klein, is entering his fourth season as Denver’s southwest area scout and should work closely with Kubiak.

“When [Senior Personnel Advisor] Gary [Kubiak] left here—I never planned on him leaving anyways—he never really left,” Elway said. “He just had to get some separation. When we talked about what he wanted to do as far as stepping down as a head coach, I talked to him about coming back in some kind of capacity. Gary is a very bright football man, and he can bring a lot to us. That’s why I’m excited he is going to come back. He’s a great evaluator. He’s a big bonus for us on the personnel side.”

Still no stadium naming rights deal

The Broncos’ stadium will continue to be called Sports Authority Field at Mile High for the foreseeable future, but CEO Joe Ellis is still working to find a partner. Invesco Field was renamed Sports Authority Field in 2011. Sports Authority filed for bankruptcy in May, 2016 and subsequently terminated their naming rights contract with the Broncos.

“There’s nothing today to report other than my forecast at this very meeting last year that we would hopefully have a deal done by today was wrong,” Ellis said. “I’m a little disappointed in that. On the other hand, there’s a lot that goes into these deals, and some of them take longer periods of time than others.”


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