(CBS4) – As the Denver Broncos get ready to begin their 2020 season with the beginning of training camp on July 28, here are the top four training camp battles to keep an eye on.
Starting Left Tackle (Garett Bolles vs Elijah Wilkerson)
This is the biggest training camp battle going into training camp and the outcome of this could be the difference between the Broncos making the playoffs or missing out for the fifth consecutive season.
Let’s be honest, the main reason why this is a battle has to do with Garett Bolles struggles with holding penalties. According to STATS LLC, Bolles committed 10 penalties last season and six of those were holding penalties. He also allowed four sacks and the Broncos declined his fifth-year option as a result.
Elijah Wilkerson saw plenty of playing time last season, playing in 15 games and starting in 12 contests. He allowed ten sacks, which were the fourth most of any tackle last season, according to Pro Football Focus, and committed four holding penalties.
Without preseason games, offensive line coach Mike Munchak and head coach Vic Fangio will keep a keen eye on this battle.
Starting Running Back (Phillip Lindsay vs Melvin Gordon III)
Gordon comes into camp penciled in as the starter with his major payday in the offseason but he’ll have to battle Lindsay to make sure he holds onto the role. Both tailbacks have put up similar numbers over the last two seasons:
Lindsay: 2,048 yards, 16 touchdowns, 70 receptions for 437 yards and a touchdown.
Gordon: 1,497 rushing yards, 18 touchdowns, 92 receptions for 786 yards and five touchdowns.
The biggest difference between Gordon and Lindsay is ball security. Gordon has fumbled the ball 14 times in his career while Lindsay has not fumbled in the NFL.
Third Cornerback (Michael Ojemudia vs Issac Yiadom)
Who will start alongside of Bouye and Callahan is one of the biggest questions heading into training camp. Isaac Yiadom is the best candidate to fill the role as he started eight games last season with 43 tackles and four passes defensed.
Coach Fangio is not afraid to play rookies which could bode well for third-round pick Michael Ojemudia.
“Everything’s open, Coach Fangio said in a conference call on April 24th. “Competition is there. We’ll play the guys that deserve to play regardless of the year, whether they are a rookie, veteran or in between. He has the right to come in here and compete and earn a job.”
According to The Athletic, the Broncos were in sub packages 72 percent of the defensive snaps last season. This means it is imperative for the team to find a quality third corner and for Denver to develop some depth at corner.
Duke Dawson Jr., De’Vante Bausby and Davontae Harris all started at different times last season. Bausby played well in his two starts before his season was cut short after suffering a neck injury on a helmet-to-helmet hit against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Backup Tight End (Jeff Heuerman vs Nick Vannett)
The best position battle will be between these two former Ohio State Buckeyes to back up Noah Fant. Nick Vannett and Jeff Heuerman are both viewed as solid run blockers and have put up similar numbers in their careers.
– Jeff Heuerman: 63 receptions, 678 yards and five touchdowns
– Nick Vannett: 61 receptions, 591 yards and four touchdowns
If this competition is close, the deciding factor could come down to dollars and cents. Heuerman counts $4.3 million dollars on the cap while Vannett carries a $2.1 million cap hit.
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