Receiver, weakside LB will be major question marks for Broncos in 2010

DENVER - NOVEMBER 23:  Defensive end Jarvis Moss #94 of the Denver Broncos leaves the line of scrimmage against the Oakland Raiders during week 12 NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on November 23, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. The Raiders defeated the Broncos 31-10.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Merry training camp season, everyone. It’s been a long offseason, but football is finally gearing up again and to celebrate I’m rolling out a new series on TSR entitled “2010 NFL Question Marks,” where I discuss one or two of the biggest concerns that teams have heading into the new season. Granted, some teams have more issues than others, but I’ll primarily be focusing on the biggest problem areas. Today I’ll be discussing two potential issues that the Broncos face in 2010.

I’ve tried to stick with talking about only one position when discussing teams in this question marks series, but it’s hard not to bring up two key issues that the Broncos will face this season.

Brandon Marshall amassed 101 receptions and 10 touchdowns last season – almost half the number of TDs that Kyle Orton threw (21). The player with the next most receptions on the team last year was Jabar Gaffney, who finished with 54.

Needless to say, now that he’s in Miami the Broncos’ receivers have their work cut out for them trying to duplicate Marshall’s success.

The team did well by selecting former Georgia Tech product Demaryius Thomas in the first round of April’s draft. His skill set is off the charts and in time, he could make Denver forget about Marshall and become the Broncos’ go-to guy.

But he also keeps injuring his surgically repaired left foot and while he should be ready to go by Week 1, will the foot be a problem for him from here on out? How many times do we see a player hampered by an injury all season, even though he’s able to play every Sunday? Receivers have a difficult time making an impact in their rookie years as it is, so it stands to reason that Thomas could struggle this season.

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Rotoworld’s favorite fliers

NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 21: Jacoby Jones  of the Houston Texans is tackled by Anthony Waters  of the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome on August 21, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Adam Levitan of Rotoworld released his list of late-round fliers, and there are a few interesting names to be found:

1. JACOBY JONES: Kevin Walter continues to keep his nose in front as the starter, but Jones is right there.

For a guy that only had 27 catches last season, Jones had some good games. He went for 2-73-1 against Tennessee, 7-94-1 in two games against Indy, and finished with a total of 7-144-2 over the last two games against the Dolphins and Pats. Walter is better suited for the slot, but Jones has to be consistent to get starter’s snaps, especially if Owen Daniels is anywhere close to 100%.

2. JABAR GAFFNEY: Locked in as a starter and looking like Kyle Orton’s favorite target. How does he have an ADP of 160?

I’m starting to warm up to Gaffney, who continues to be Orton’s first choice in the passing game. A career filled with fantasy disappointment ensures that you’ll be able to get him late. His value is enhanced in PPR leagues.

3. KAREEM HUGGINS: He’s up to No. 2 on the Bucs’ depth chart, ahead of Derrick Ward. With Cadillac Williams still a major injury risk, Huggins should be drafted in all leagues at this point.

I was a fan of Ward when he went to TB, so I’m surprised that he’s on the outs given what they’re paying him, but there is a buzz about the ‘explosive’ Huggins.

5. MIKE WILLIAMS (TB): The rookie has drawn praise from everyone under the sun. Strong bet to lead the Bucs in receiving yards.

I reached for him in the early 10th in my industry insiders league, but I wanted to lock him up in at least one league. He’s the WR1 in Tampa Bay and Josh Freeman is a capable QB. Finishing in the top 30 is a real possibility.

7. LEGEDU NAANEE: He’s the clear No. 2 receiver in San Diego and is dropping jaws with his raw skills. Tons of upside here.

Owners are all over Maclom Floyd, But Naanee has considerable athleticism. Remember, with Gates controlling the middle of the field, the third option in the SD passing game generally doesn’t do a whole lot.

8. OWEN DANIELS: Coming off ACL surgery, he’s hoping to be cleared as soon as this week. He’s a beast when healthy and is worth a stash as well if there’s roster space.

It’s all about that knee. Daniels is in a contract year so he’s going to gut it out if he can. He’s not a bad guy to grab if you take Zach Miller or Visanthe Shiancoe later on, assuming you want to form a little TE committee.

Bill Belichick outsmarts himself sometimes

Bill BelichickThere are sometimes when Bill Belichick is too smart for his own good. Case in point, the Colts’ 18-15 win over the Patriots on Sunday Night Football.

Three weeks ago the Pats drummed the Broncos in front of a national audience on Monday Night Football. Belichick was so aggressive that he was even instructing Matt Cassel to run the no-huddle offense up by three scores in the second half. Belichick wanted to make the point that the Patriots weren’t done even though Tom Brady had been lost for the year, and that they could still shove the ball down their opponents’ throats if they wanted to.

Fast forward to Sunday night. Instead of taking advantage of an inexperienced Indy secondary that was starting a street free agent at one of its corner spots, Belichick decided to play things close to the vest and stick to the running game. It made sense considering Indy has struggled mightily against the run and he also wanted to keep Peyton Manning and the explosive Colts offense on the sidelines. But Indy sold out to stop the run last week against Tennessee and also was getting back safety Bob Sanders – their best run-stuffer.

Why run the no-huddle three weeks ago to prove a point against Denver, but play ultra-conservative against a secondary begging to be attacked? Belichick continuously stayed with draws and screens, which had some success, but ultimately played into a smaller, quicker Colts’ defense that flies around to the football. It’s mind-boggling.

Belichick and stone-hands Jabar Gaffney cost the Pats a victory last night because once again, the Colts weren’t too impressive and could have easily been had.

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