“I’ll tell you, what’s even a better addition is have Kyle Rudolph back healthy,” Bridgewater said. “He’s like a whole new player on the team.”
They expected big things from Rudolph last season, and the lucrative contract extension they gave him during training camp was proof of that.
“You see what my position is capable of in this offense,” Rudolph said. “I’ve proven that throughout the course of a 16-game season, when I’m out there every week, I’m one of the best players at my position.”
It has been a frustrating two years for Rudolph and his owners, as he’s missed 15 of a possible 32 games in that span. But he saw 17 targets in three games last season before going down with a sports hernia. Over the past three seasons, Rudolph has averaged 5.2 targets per game, which is about what Owen Daniels averaged in 2014. There’s some upside in OC Norv Turner’s TE-friendly offense if he can stay healthy. Granted, that’s a big “if.”
Newly-appointed Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison will look to have a more balanced attack in 2015. A trademark of Dennison’s traditional coaching style, the Broncos will now look to rely on both the rushing and passing offense as opposed to last year’s emphasis on the passing game.
“It’s definitely different,” said Sanders. “You talk about going from a no-huddle offense to an offense that’s huddling up, to an offense that is predicated off running a football and then throwing it. It’s different.”
“It’s a totally different set up, but I tell you what, the more and more I’m in it,” said Sanders. “Because we can get the run game going and just use my vertical speed on cross routes and all these different combinations of routes is based off the play action, then I think the offense will be successful with Peyton Manning at the helm.”
“Of course obviously it’s not going to be one of those offenses, well I’m praying that it is, but obviously it’s not going to be one of those offenses where you catch it and you’re going to have two receivers catching over 100 passes,” said Sanders. “Hopefully, my goal is really to try to get a 1,000 yards to just help this team win ball games.”
The Broncos were pretty balanced last season when compared to the rest of the league. They had the 16th-highest pass/run ratio (57.8%), while new HC Gary Kubiak was running the Baltimore offense with the 22nd-highest ratio (55.3%). With Wes Welker and Julius Thomas gone, we believe that Sanders and Demaryius Thomas are still rock-solid investments in the early rounds, even when we account for a drop in pass attempts.
HC Gary Kubiak said the Broncos have had internal talks about the possibility of adding a two-point specialist and added that he plans to carve out time in practice to work on two-point attempts and the defense of those plays.
"I think it will change a great deal," Kubiak said, according to ESPN.com.
The Broncos went for two just twice last season, converting both attempts. The Competition Committee expects there to be a 93 to 94 percent conversion rate on extra points in 2015. How often coaches roll the dice on two-point plays has become one of the more intriguing subplots of the new season.
From a fantasy point of view, this could enhance the value of players who are considered two-point specialists, though it won't be clear which teams will utilize this strategy until the season starts.
It was unlikely that Heuerman would have been fantasy relevant as a rookie, but we'll never know. If he can pick up the mental side of the game as he rehabs his injury, he should be ready to go in 2016.
“In Denver — Anderson would hate me for saying this — but he got tired and was a little chubby sometimes,” Gase said. “I mean, he got worn down quick and then we had to rotate backs in last year.”
Anderson's fatigue might have something to do with the 24.0 touches he averaged over the final eight games. Over that span, he averaged 132 total yards and 1.3 TD, and was the #1 fantasy running back. If the Broncos commit to Anderson, he should thrive under new HC Gary Kubiak, who just coaxed a career year out of journeyman Justin Forsett.
“We felt like the tight end was someone we really wanted,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said. “This offense we’ll be running is very tight end friendly.”
The Ravens lost Owen Daniels to free agency and Dennis Pitta is very iffy for the season as he recovers from a bad hip injury, so Williams is a need pick. If his offseason goes well, he could start immediately in new OC Marc Trestman’s pass-happy offense. This means he could be fantasy relevant as a rookie, a rarity for a rookie tight end.
The Broncos' third-year running back predicts — not smugly but almost sheepishly — that he'll surpass Hillman and unseat Anderson, whose spectacular second half of 2014 earned him a Pro Bowl berth and the Broncos' starting tailback job.
"C.J. deserves the No. 1 spot right now. I'm most definitely going to try to work to get it back. And I believe that I will," Ball told The Associated Press during a break at minicamp this week. "I like coming in and being the underdog, just keeping my head down, my mouth shut and just working."
The clear-cut starter a year ago at this time after rushing for a 4.7-yard average his rookie year, Ball never regained his explosiveness or his starting job after undergoing an emergency appendectomy in August.
Ball blames the three-week layoff for weakening his core, which he believes in turn led to the torn right groin that landed him on injured reserve, limiting him to a paltry 172 yards on 55 carries for a 3.1-yard average and a single TD in 2014.
"I went back out there and it was just all downhill from there because I believe by having a weak core from having the surgery and not being able to work out my core for a good three weeks everything just lost its balance and my groin went out," Ball said. "I'm not blaming anyone because I looked them in the face and said, 'I feel great. I feel 100 percent.'"
Anderson starts the offseason as the starter, and it's his job to lose, but he's one of the riskier running backs currently going in the first three rounds due to his "half-year wonder" status and the presence of Hillman and Ball.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015, 11:33am
It certainly looks like TE Dennis Pitta wants to at least keep the door open for a possible return. In a video posted to the Ravens' website from Monday’s kickoff to the offseason workout program, Pitta is seen working out alongside his teammates in the weight room.
Pitta’s presence may keep the door ajar, but it probably doesn’t change the Ravens’ feelings about needing to add a tight end in the draft. With Owen Daniels gone, the team’s thin on players they know will be there in September.
Broncos HC Gary Kubiak's relationship with WR Cody Latimer dates back 13 months. Latimer visited the Baltimore Ravens leading up to the 2014 draft, meeting with Kubiak, then the Ravens' offensive coordinator. He told Latimer their paths would cross again. Their intersection in Denver — sooner than either expected — brings lofty expectations.
"He showed a lot of flashes from me watching (film of) him in practice," Kubiak said. "A lot of times being a rookie can be over- whelming. I think it's time for him to make a big jump, not just a little jump. Obviously his playing time is fixing to pick up, and it needs to pick up. We need him."
Kubiak has a reputation for preferring two-TE sets over three-WR sets, which may limit Latimer's upside. The Ravens' WR3, Marlon Brown, played 40 percent of the snaps last season, so it remains to be seen if Latimer gets enough run to be fantasy relevant. He's at best the Broncos' WR3 behind Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Kubiak's tendencies mean that Latimer will have to carve out snaps -- they won't be handed to him.
Thursday, April 16, 2015, 12:54pm
Second-year receiver Cody Latimer benefited from extra reps at workouts with Peyton Manning at Duke University. He received pointers that could accelerate his learning curve with the new offense. Manning had Latimer run routes that might be incorporated into the scheme of new Broncos coach Gary Kubiak.
"He texted me, and I asked if I could go down there," Latimer said of Manning. "It meant a lot."
Latimer spent his offseason training in Florida. "It really helped give me a headstart," he said.
Latimer is a player to monitor this offseason, especially with the news that Emmanuel Sanders is going to play the slot in three-receiver sets. Latimer had a disappointing rookie season and wasn't even able to beat out Andre Caldwell. However, it takes time to earn Manning's trust, and the franchise didn't draft him in the second round to ride the proverbial pine.
"On my Twitter, I'm vocal about Cody because I believe in Cody," he said. "Cody is a special player. He has strong hands and is a physical tool. I think this is going to be the year that he jumps onto the scene. I think he's going to have a big year and I'm happy he's on my team and in our receiver group."
In past seasons, Latimer would jump out as a breakout candidate in a Peyton Manning-led Broncos offense. This year could be different, however, with the team expected to lean harder on their running game in Kubiak's zone-blocking scheme.
Latimer is going to have a bigger role. How much bigger remains to be seen.
Latimer is a player to monitor this offseason, especially with the news that Sanders is going to play the slot in three-receiver sets. Latimer had a disappointing rookie season and wasn't even able to beat out Andre Caldwell. However, it takes time to earn Peyton Manning's trust, and the franchise didn't draft him in the second round to ride the proverbial pine.
Sanders performed very well in the slot last season, though he spent a majority of the time on the outside. He'll continue to play outside in two-WR sets and then move inside when the Broncos add a receiver to the formation. Sanders finished #5 in PPR formats and #7 in standard formats after catching 101 passes for 1,404 yards and nine touchdowns. With TE Julius Thomas gone, we wouldn't expect Sanders' targets to drop much, so his 3rd round ADP in early drafts looks quite reasonable. We expect Cody Latimer to compete with Andre Caldwell for snaps in three-WR sets.
Sunday, April 5, 2015, 9:17am
As part of Denver HC Gary Kubiak's zone-blocking offense, the fullback will return to the roster. The Broncos haven't featured a true fullback on their 53-man roster since Chris Gronkowski in 2012, and Spencer Larsen boasted the last part-time role in the running game in 2008.
Twenty-three NFL teams used fullbacks last season. The Broncos will join the group this season with Juwan Thompson and Joe Don Duncan, signed last month, the current candidates to fill the vacancy. Kubiak also will look to add depth through the draft, which starts April 30, or with a street free agent.
The story went on to say that the Broncos tried to throttle up their running game after a humbling November loss to the St. Louis Rams. Pro Bowler C.J. Anderson blossomed, and the story also pointed out the undrafted tailback will enter offseason workouts as a starter. The author feels the balanced attack left quarterback Peyton Manning ineffective and lacking confidence. With Kubiak, power-based sets will increase in multiple formations, including the pistol, a concession to the shotgun Manning has mastered.
Thursday, April 2, 2015, 6:54pm
The Broncos don’t figure to use as many three-wide receiver sets as they have over the past two seasons, but they'll still be part of Peyton Manning's playbook. Either way, the Broncos hope Cody Latimer shows that he’s ready to be among the top three pass-catchers.
Latimer had a disappointing rookie season and wasn't even able to beat out Andre Caldwell. However, it takes time to earn Manning's trust, and the franchise didn't draft him in the second round to ride the proverbial pine. His upside will be limited if the Broncos utilize fewer three-WR sets since new HC Gary Kubiak likes to utilize two tight ends.
Broncos RB C.J. Anderson earned his place on the first team with a performance in the second half of the season that was more productive than all but one other running back in that span.When offseason workouts start, he will remain atop the depth chart at running back -- but only if he can maintain his performance and diligence.
"He made a big jump as a player, and I think he's earned the right to walk in to the offseason program -- the OTAs -- and line up as our starter," Head Coach Gary Kubiak said. "But he's got to continue to earn it on a daily basis... I think he's shown he has all the ability to be an excellent starter in this league, so we're really looking forward to working with him."
But he will return to find his predecessors at running back at full strength. Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman have recovered from groin and foot injuries, respectively, and will factor into the scramble for carries.
"All those guys are young. I think all three of those guys ... have all kind of had their little spurts of success with the club when they've had their opportunity," Kubiak said. "But they're all young. Who's going to be the bell cow, who's going to play every down, who's going to be the three-down player, they've got to sort that out. C.J. has shown the flashes of doing that... We'll give them all a chance and see how it pans out, but C.J. obviously has a good head start on things," Kubiak said.
The competition could be fierce, but Anderson's success last year and his ability to translate that to a zone-blocking scheme gives him the early lead.
"All good players fit your system, and he's a good player," Kubiak said. "So we've got some good young backs, and it's going to be very competitive from that standpoint, but, yeah, he's proven that running zone schemes and doing those types of things seem to fit him very well."
Anderson began to see starter-type touches in Week 10 with 17 touches for 163 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders. Over the final eight weeks, he averaged 24.0 touches for 132 yards and 1.3 TD, and was the #1 RB in that span. If the Broncos commit to Anderson (and why wouldn’t they?), he should thrive under Kubiak, who just coaxed a career year out of journeyman Justin Forsett.
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