ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The way the offseason has gone so far for the Denver Broncos can be summed up in a few words.
The words coach Gary Kubiak often tosses out before the questions come his way: “So, you want to ask me about the quarterbacks?’’
Yes, folks have asked Kubiak plenty about the Broncos’ plans at quarterback, and it is the biggest single decision the team will make before the regular season begins. But that quarterback decision is not only a conversation starter, it is rather tidy camouflage for the part of the Broncos’ roster poised for the biggest makeover in the offseason -- special teams.
“That’s where you see guys trying to make it,’’ linebacker Brandon Marshall said. “You’re going to have some different guys on those units every year, but I think we’ll get it figured out.’’
The Broncos lost their special teams captain, safety David Bruton Jr., in free agency. They lost the guy who had been their primary kickoff returner, Omar Bolden, in free agency. And when they used a seventh-round pick to select punter Riley Dixon in April, they formally put their punter, Britton Colquitt, on the roster bubble.
Not only does Dixon have a power leg, he would earn a rookie salary compared to the $4 million Colquitt currently is scheduled to count against the salary cap for the coming season.
“It was a good week for (Dixon),’’ special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis said. “I thought both of those guys had good weeks. Britton had a good week also. It’s exactly like we thought it was going to be. It’s going to be a tough deal. Whoever is the best guy and the best one at the end, that’s who we’ll take at the end of camp.’’
Bruton’s departure impacts the Broncos in terms of leadership, given Bruton has been the team’s special teams captain for multiple seasons. But Bruton played on most of the special teams units as well.
DeCamillis said earlier this offseason that when Bruton went to injured reserve last season with a fractured lower leg, it forced the Broncos to deal with his absence much the same way they will now. It means players such as Cody Latimer, Kayvon Webster and Juwan Thompson, all front-line special teams players, will have a more prominent role on the field and in the meeting room.
Several of the team’s final roster decisions, including at wide receiver, will be made with special teams in mind.
“It’s just finding the consistency and finding our best guys to fill out the roster,’’ offensive coordinator Rick Dennison said. “And that’s not just for us. They’ve got to work for Joe DeCamillis. That’s a part of the equation that we don’t have much on it.’’
DeCamillis said he has seen the Broncos’ new players enough during the current offseason workouts to begin to make an assessment of where they might fit into the special teams plans. But these practices are without pads, so training camp and the team’s preseason games will be important factors as well.
“You see the effort and you see the preparation, you see certain things out of those guys that you like,’’ DeCamillis said. “But on the no side of it, I’ve been around people that have made their team in OTAs. Whether it be management or coaching staff, where they automatically say, ‘This guy is the greatest ever.’ That’s a very dangerous thing to happen in my opinion. I think you have to see how it’s going to work out and let the competition go.’’
That’s particularly true at punt returner, where Jordan Norwood leads the way with new arrivals Kalif Raymond and Mose Frazier -- both undrafted rookie wide receivers -- among those players who also have caught DeCamillis’ eye.
“We’ll have good competition during camp,’’ DeCamillis said.