ENGLEWOOD -- This is the third season John Elway and John Fox have been at the top of the Broncos football flow chart. And with some of the most difficult roster decisions they’ve had in their tenure on the near horizon in the coming week, how the team has shaped its 53-man roster the previous two years can provide some hints how this one will go.
And it is worth noting, in both 2011 and 2012, the Broncos kept 26 players on offense, 24 on defense and three specialists (kicker, punter, long snapper) on their first 53-man roster of the season. Sure, things change, people get hurt, waiver claims are made (i.e. Trindon Holliday last season).
But here’s a rundown of how things can shake out later this week -- the Broncos figure to make the bulk of their cuts on Friday with the remainder on Saturday since they play in the league’s opener, Sept. 5, against the Ravens:
Kept in 2011: 3
Kept in 2012: 2
Kept in 2011: 4
Kept in 2012: 5
This year: A crowded spot, especially if Jacob Hester, who appeared in just five plays on offense Saturday night against the Rams, makes it as a fullback/running back/special teamer. Looks like Ronnie Hillman, Montee Ball, Knowshon Moreno for sure, choice comes down whether or not to keep both Hester and Lance Ball.
Kept in 2011: 3
Kept in 2012: 3
This year: Number is skewed for last season because Virgil Green opened the year serving a suspension for PEDs and the Broncos actually carried four here for most of 2012. Joel Dreessen, who is coming back from knee surgery, Jacob Tamme, Julius Thomas and Green, who could also play fullback in a pinch, are the group. And four tight ends likely cost a running back a roster spot. They may give some thought to keeping just three, but the two-tight end look is still one of their most productive groupings on offense.
Kept in 2011: 5
Kept in 2012: 5
This year: Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker are top three, with Andre Caldwell in the fourth spot and rookie Tavarres King should be the No. 5 if the Broncos truly believe what they have said about building through the draft.
Kept in 2011: 9
Kept in 2012: 9
This year: The Broncos will have the gauge Chris Kuper’s recovery. If they want to keep him he could be placed on injured reserve/designated for return, but he is still very limited in practice and was not in uniform Saturday night. Ryan Clady, Zane Beadles, Manny Ramirez, Louis Vasquez and Orlando Franklin are the starters with Chris Clark, C.J. Davis and Steve Vallos are the top backups. But they just traded for John Moffitt, so he could be the swing guard/center role that Davis has at the moment, but Vallos played as the No. 2 center Saturday night. So what the Broncos decide to do with Moffitt, the injured Ryan Lilja, rookie Vinston Painter and 2012 draft pick Philip Blake will fill out the final spot or two. Tough call since it’'s pretty early to give up on a former draft pick like Blake, who's essentially in his rookie year since he missed '12 with a thumb injury, and Painter has shown enough promise for a spot.