2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Broncos primed for another super run

By ARNIE STAPLETON - AP Pro Football Writer
    2014-07-21 14:39

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - Sacred cows were scarce when Broncos general manager John Elway dug out from the wreckage of that Super Bowl blistering by the Seahawks.

Cornerback Champ Bailey, a perennial Pro Bowler and potential Hall of Famer, was sent packing.

So were Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Mike Adams and Shaun Phillips, three other defensive starters who helped keep the Broncos afloat during an injury epidemic that sidelined Von Miller, Rahim Moore, Kevin Vickerson, Derek Wolfe and Chris Harris Jr. at the Super Bowl.

Denver's record-breaking offense wasn't spared, either.

After throwing for more yards and touchdowns than anyone in NFL history, Peyton Manning had to say goodbye to wide receiver Eric Decker and running back Knowshon Moreno, who combined for 3,154 yards from scrimmage and 25 touchdowns in the lead-up to the Super Bowl.

Replacing Decker are coveted free agent Emmanuel Sanders and prized rookie Cody Latimer, both of whom have spent plenty of one-on-one time with Manning this offseason.

Those post-practice sessions not only helped get the new guys up to speed in Adam Gase's breakneck offense, but they kept Manning sharp entering his 17th NFL season with nary a thought of retirement.

''Sometimes it's the monotonous routine, the boredom, that pushes guys out, not the physical part of it,'' Manning said. ''And I have been stimulated the past two years working with Adam and working with different teammates, so it does sort of keep the bounce in you, I think.''

Atop Elway's to-do list when he touched down back in Denver following that 43-8 loss to Seattle was an edgier defense. Yes, like the one that had just throttled the highest-scoring team in NFL history.

Elway also sought a beefier offensive line to give Manning better protection and the Broncos' ground game more muscle.

He accomplished both goals in a stellar offseason that puts Denver in position to make another Super Bowl run.

Here are some things to keep in mind as the Broncos kick off training camp this week in hopes of getting back to the big game and hauling home the Lombardi Trophy, not just a bunch of records and regrets:

REINFORCEMENTS ARRIVE: Elway signed pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware, cornerback Aqib Talib and safety T.J. Ward in anther free agency mother lode that gave him thumpers at all three levels on defense.

That theme continued in the draft when Ohio State's bruising cornerback, Bradley Roby, ranked 14th on the Broncos' board, slid to them at No. 31.

STARS RETURN: Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio was all smiles this offseason as one by one his injured starters returned to practice. Miller and Harris Jr. are coming off ACL surgeries. Wolfe is back from a mysterious ailment that led to seizures and weight loss. Moore is back at full speed after nearly losing his lower left leg to a rare medical condition.

On top of that, coach John Fox, who had open-heart surgery in November, signed an extension.

SHUFFLED O-LINE: Standout left tackle Ryan Clady's return from a foot injury that cost him almost all of 2013 allows the Broncos to move Chris Clark to right tackle and slide Orlando Franklin inside to Zane Beadles' old spot at left guard.

With All-Pro Louis Vasquez at right guard and Manny Ramirez at center, Denver's interior boasts nearly 1,000 pounds. That should help provide a more balanced offense while keeping Manning from the kind of harassment that plagued him at the Super Bowl.

BALL'S BACKUPS: The Broncos are so comfortable with second-year pro Montee Ball that they let Moreno leave after a season in which he gained 1,586 yards from scrimmage and another 195 in the playoffs.

The competition for carries behind Ball is one of the most intriguing battles. C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman will be pushed by undrafted free agents Brennan Clay, Kapri Bibbs and Juwan Thompson.

NEW RETURNER: Elway also didn't bother to bring back kick returner Trindon Holliday, who faded down the stretch and was a nonfactor in the playoffs.

Primed to take his spot is Isaiah Burse, a speedy slot receiver from Fresno State who patterned his game after Wes Welker's - and even followed his idol's path to the NFL when he went undrafted. Burse aims to extend Denver's streak to 11 seasons with an undrafted free agent making the 53-man roster.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Philip RiversDec 20 07:22p

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers (back) is active Saturday, Dec. 20, for Week 16.

Ryan MathewsDec 20 07:22p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) is inactive Saturday, Dec. 20, for Week 16.

Ryan MathewsDec 20 07:12p

The San Diego Chargers have declared LB Cordarro Law, DL Damion Square, CB Greg Ducre, WR Keenan Allen, P Mike Scifres, DL Ryan Carrethers, RB Ryan Mathews inactive for Week 16.

Carlos HydeDec 20 07:12p

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (ankle) is inactive Saturday, Dec. 20.

Ahmad BrooksDec 20 07:02p

The San Francisco 49ers have declared LB Ahmad Brooks, OG Andrew Tiller, RB Carlos Hyde, OG Joe Looney, QB Josh X. Johnson, WR Stevie Johnson, CB Tramaine Brock inactive for Week 16.

Dennis KellyDec 20 03:32p

The Philadelphia Eagles have declared OT Dennis Kelly, WR Jeff Maehl, S Jerome Couplin III, OG Julian Vandervelde, QB Nick Foles, DE Taylor Hart, LB Trent Cole inactive for Week 16.

Leonard HankersonDec 20 03:12p

The Washington Redskins have declared CB Chibuikem Okoro, LB Gabe Miller, DL Jason Hatcher, OG Josh LeRibeus, LB Keenan Robinson, WR Leonard Hankerson inactive for Week 16.

Roy HeluDec 20 03:02p

Washington Redskins RB Roy Helu (toe) is inactive Saturday, Dec. 20, against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Peyton ManningDec 19 07:42p

Updating a previous report, Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh) was officially limited in practice Friday, Dec. 19, but he threw more than he did than the day prior, [ More ]

Frank GoreDec 19 05:42p

San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore (concussion) was limited in practice Friday, Dec. 19, and is questionable for Week 16.

Keenan AllenDec 19 04:42p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (knee) and WR Keenan Allen (shoulder, ankle) have been ruled out for Week 16 against the San Francisco 49ers.

Cam NewtonDec 19 04:12p

Updating previous reports, Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) has yet to officially be cleared to play in Week 16 against the Cleveland Browns, but head coach Ron Rivera [ More ]

T Y HiltonDec 19 02:32p

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) missed practice all week but is questionable for Week 16 against the Dallas Cowboys.

Peyton ManningDec 19 02:22p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh) was back to a full practice Friday, Dec. 19, after being limited Thursday, Dec. 18. Manning made several strong throws in the portion open to the media.

T Y HiltonDec 19 02:12p

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) missed practice again Friday, Dec. 19, and RTV6's Mike Chappell is convinced that Hilton will not play in Week 16 against the Dallas Cowboys.

C.J. SpillerDec 19 12:53p

Buffalo Bills RB C.J. Spiller (shoulder) has been added to the active roster and is probable for Week 16 against the Oakland Raiders.

Cam NewtonDec 19 12:52p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) is listed as probable for Week 16 against the Cleveland Browns.

Blake BortlesDec 19 12:12p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles (foot) completed only 13 passes for 115 yards in the win over the Tennessee Titans Thursday, Dec. 18, but he didn't show any signs [ More ]

T Y HiltonDec 19 11:52a

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) is not participating in the portion of practice open to the media Friday, Dec. 19.

Julio JonesDec 19 11:22a

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip) is not participating in portion of practice open to the media Friday, Dec. 19.

DeMarco MurrayDec 19 10:52a

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (hand) is likely to play in Week 16, according to a source. Murray has a high threshold for pain, and according to the source, [ More ]

Eddie LacyDec 19 10:12a

Green Bay Packers RB Eddie Lacy (eye) said he wasn't able to read a teammate's nameplate a few feet away in the locker room Thursday, Dec. 18. Lacy said [ More ]

Leon WashingtonDec 18 11:32p

Tennessee Titans RB Leon Washington caught a team-high seven passes for 62 yards and a touchdown in the team's 21-13 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars Thursday, Dec. 18. He [ More ]

Philip RiversDec 18 11:22p

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers (back) looked good throwing the ball in the practice Thursday, Dec. 18, according to head coach Mike McCoy. 'Philip had an outstanding day,' [ More ]

Peyton ManningDec 18 07:22p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh, illness) said his illness is behind him, and he was receiving treatment for his thigh Thursday, Dec. 18. Head coach John Fox called Manning day-to-day.

Roy MillerDec 18 07:12p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have declared DL Andre Branch, CB Jeremy Harris, SS Matt Daniels, DL Roy Miller, CB Teddy Williams, WR Tommy Streeter, OG Tyler Shatley inactive for Week 16.

Tommy StreeterDec 18 07:12p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have declared DL Andre Branch, CB Jeremy Harris, SS Matt Daniels, DL Roy Miller, CB Teddy Williams, WR Tommy Streeter, OG Tyler Shatley inactive for Week 16.

Kendall WrightDec 18 07:12p

Tennessee Titans WR Kendall Wright (hand) is active for Week 16 after being limited in practice all week.

Frank GoreDec 18 07:02p

San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore (concussion) continues through the concussion protocol this week, but head coach Jim Harbaugh anticipates Gore suiting up in Week 16 against the San [ More ]

Julius ThomasDec 18 06:52p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) played just 29 snaps in Week 15; only ten of them were pass routes, according to Pro Football Focus.

Rashad JenningsDec 18 06:12p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) did not practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Carlos HydeDec 18 05:52p

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (ankle) did not practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

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