Archive for the ‘Champ Bailey’ Category

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Some things to watch for vs Dallas

August 18, 2007

Unfortunately, I don’t live in Denver or Colorado or any state nearby in fact. That means I don’t have local TV coverage of the Bronco’s. And that means I won’t be able to see our second preseason game tonight against the Dallas Cowboys until tomorrow afternoon when the NFL Network replays the game.

And since I want to watch the game before reading anyone else’s opinions or analysis, I will be imposing an internet-ban on myself from tonight until tomorrow evening. That means no surfing the net, checking email or blogging for 24 hours… ouch!

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Shanahan ORDERS Marshall onto the field

August 10, 2007

Marshall over ChampSo, Mike Shanahan finally just ordered 2nd year WR Brandon Marshall on the practice field today, despite the ailing quadriceps that has kept him out of camp for nearly two weeks.

“(Shanahan) said it to challenge me – to see if I was mentally strong. He knew that I was in pain, and that it hurt, but he also knows it’s one of those things where you have to get out there, push yourself and be mentally tough.”

— Brandon Marshall 8/10/07


And it definitely hurts, as scar tissue normally builds up as the muscle
heals. But Shanahan was convinced that team physicians were correct and it was time for Marshall to return.

 

“I told him this morning that he had to work through it. You have to fight through a little pain and scar tissue but that is just part of it.”

— Mike Shanahan 8/10/07

Marshall wasn’t at all sure, but as this injury is one of his first in years he listened to the coach. And as Shanahan expected, after some warming up, Marshall was able to not only participate in 1-on-1 drills, but stayed out on the field for some full team work. Marshall even made a ‘play of the day’ by snagging a pass in front of Champ Bailey late in the morning session.

“I was kind of hesitant at first, but as you can see… I’ve got a smile on my face.” — Brandon Marshall 8/10/07

As it turns out… coach knows best.

 

 

** photo taken by Andrew Mason **

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TRAINING CAMP: DAY 6

August 3, 2007

NOTES AND NEWS FROM DAY SIX OF TRAINING CAMP:


Well the news today was all about the VERY thin depth we have at WR. In fact, with Brandon Stokley held out with a minor right thigh injury and Javon Walker pulled up short with some muscle cramping, we were left with only five functioning receivers (Quincy Morgan, Domenik Hixon, David Terrell, Brian Clark and David Kircus).

That was so few that at times Shanahan had to use TE’s to fill in the receiver slots so all the plays could be run. Nate Jackson worked well in this capacity as the tightend was a receiver only two seasons ago.

“(Nate’s) been very consistent and he’s gotten better in the blocking game and obviously he’s made some big-time catches — He’s looked very good.” — Mike Shanahan 8/3/07

Jackson wasn’t the only receiver to do well today. There were great catches by all of our remaining wideouts. Here’s a look at a few of them…

Cutler’s 50 yard pass to Walker (before he left with cramping)!

Cutler moves in the pocket to allow enough time for a pass to Nate Jackson.

Quincy Morgan grabs this ball pass Bly.

And now some other notes…

 

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TRAINING CAMP: DAY 4

August 1, 2007

NOTES AND NEWS FROM DAY FOUR OF TRAINING CAMP:

Day four and away we go!

If the biggest news yesterday was Domenik Hixon’s shoulder injury, the top story today should have been his return to the practice field.

However, Javon Walker broke his silence today and spoke to a throng of eager reporters after the morning practice. Much to their chagrin, he didn’t discuss the Jan. 1st death of Darrent Williams. But that didn’t stop every sports media outlet from leading with the story “Walker still silent on slain teammate” — way to respect the man’s emotional recovery dill weeds!

In ACTUAL football news, Ian Gold made it back into the line up and Domenik Hixon muscled through his shoulder pain to complete the morning practice. Brandon Marshall, however, sat out again. Shanahan noted that and made some pointed comments about the importance of beating the injury bug and getting out on the field.

“When guys get hurt, it really hurts their chances of making the team. For a guy like Domenik to come in after a first-degree shoulder separation is pretty impressive. He worked through it, and that is what you are hoping a guy is going to do.”

“A guy that keeps getting hurt, we can’t waste repetition on a guy that’s not out there. We have to have guys who can stay healthy.”

— Mike Shanahan 8/1/07

And if Shanahan wasn’t blunt enough, Ted Sundquist also commented on Brandon Marshall today.

“We’re counting on Brandon. We put a lot of time and effort into coaching him, getting him ready, but ultimately on a Mike Shanahan team you’ve got to go out on the field and perform”

— Ted Sundquist 8/1/07

Brandon Marshall needs to get his butt in gear, deal with a little pain and get out on that darn practice field — SOON.

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ATTENDANCE:

WR Marquay McDaniel was held out with a hamstring injury. Kenard Lang and Chad Mustard did not participate and Glenn Martinez was sidelined during the morning practice with a strained leg muscle.

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OFFENSIVE LINE UPS: WEDNESDAY

den-logo.jpg Wide Outs:
Walker and Brandon Stokley ran with the 1st Team.

den-logo.jpg Tight Ends:
No real change from the last few days.
den-logo.jpg Running Backs:
Again, no change. Travis Henry with Cecil Sapp running second. Mike Bell, Andre Hall and Young following behind.

den-logo.jpg O-line:
* 1st Team O-line was unchanged: LT Matt Lepsis, LG Ben Hamilton, C Tom Nalen, RG Chris Kuper and RT Erik Pears.

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DEFENSIVE LINE UPS: WEDNESDAY

den-logo.jpg D-line:
* 1st Team D-line stayed the same as the last couple of days: DE’s Ebenezer Ekuban and John Engelberger, DT’s Gerard Warren and Sam Adams, but Jimmy Kennedy replaced Adams for some reps this morning.

DIME PACKAGE NOTE: Unchanged from yesterday: Ekuban and Warren were the tackles with ends Jarvis Moss and Elvis Dumervil.

den-logo.jpg Linebackers:
* 1st Team LB’s were: Nate Webster took his turn at SAM today, D.J. Williams still impressing at MIKE and Ian Gold back at WILL.

den-logo.jpg Secondary:
No changes here as CB’s Champ Bailey and Dre’ Bly and Safeties Nick Ferguson and John Lynch played on the 1st Team. Foxworth was their Nickel back and Cox joined the 1st Team during work on the Dime Package.

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SPECIAL TEAMS LINE UPS: WEDNESDAY

den-logo.jpg Kick-Off Return Team:
Returners consisted of WR’s Quincy Morgan, David Kircus and Domenik Hixon each fielded some kicks during the afternoon session. Both Brandon Pace and Todd Sauerbrun got reps kicked off.

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Training Camp Starts Tomorrow!

July 28, 2007

Jump starting the training camp coverage, Andrew Mason has posted the full video of Mike Shanahan’s pre-camp press conference over on denverbroncos.com. He also has a break down of the conference on his blog over at Mason’s Morsels. Here’s a quick look at a few points of interest…

 

den-logo.jpg PUP (physically unable to preform) list includes Rod Smith, Tony Scheffler and… you guessed it, Brandon Marshall. Marshall is still recovering from his quad injury at mini-camp. And while ‘Baby TO’ has unbelievable talent and skills, he HAS to get on the field to get that #2 spot.

“It never helps you when you’re not practicing” — Mike Shanahan 7/29/07

The positive thing about this list is that Brandon Stokley is not on it. After he participated in drills at mini-camp, he has not had any set backs and is expected to take part in all of camp (although he will be among the veterans that are waved from two-a-days).

Mike mentioned that we have 11 guys at the WR position. And with 8-9 guys getting reps per session, he and the other coaches should get a good idea of who is progressing toward one of the final roster spots.

den-logo.jpg Leadership was mentioned in the wake of losing Plummer and Wilson (and with Rod still sidelined). Mike’s response was typical Shanahan:

“There is only one was to be a leader in the Nation Football League — and that’s you have to play well.”

— Mike Shanahan 7/29/07

Not that the team doesn’t have a slew of veteran leaders. Shanahan’s list started with John Lynch, which shouldn’t surprise anyone that watched Tampa Bay during the years leading up to the Super Bowl, when Lynch was the captain of the defense. Nick Ferguson and Champ Bailey were also noted as leaders by example. On the offensive side several O-linemen were mentioned (Matt Lepsis, Tom Nalen and Ben Hamlton).

And what of our new QB’s leadership?

“Jay Cutler will become a leader when he plays well… We’re all judged on Game Day — and he will be judged as well.”

— Mike Shanahan 7/29/07

 

den-logo.jpg Mike also had a few words for his former Super Bowl MVP, Terrell Davis, the day after it was announced he will be inducted into the Ring of Fame.

“A lot of people talk about ‘The System’ all the time. People don’t realize how great a back Terrell Davis was for this organization, and what type of person he was as well. To see him get into the Ring of Fame is really special.”

— Mike Shanahan 7/27/07

 

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Have a good night sleep tonight… we’ll have photos, video and news to go over from the first day of Denver Bronco’s training camp 2007 tomorrow!

 

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So, how GREAT is Champ Bailey?

July 21, 2007

 Connor Byrne over at realfootball365.com just listed off his top Defenders for 2007. He has Champ Bailey listed at #2, right behind Charger LB Shawne Merriman. While I, personally, think Champ owns the top spot without question, it really is hard to compare apples to oranges (or in this case CB’s to LB’s).

So, if it’s difficult to say Champ is the best over-all Defender playing today, what about saying he’s the best corner to EVER play the game?

Can we honestly claim that he’ is the G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time) for his position?

Many ‘experts’ will quickly say that it is impossible to compare modern cornerbacks with their ancestors of fifty years ago. They will point out two major issues. One, that modern stats were not kept back in the olden days, therefore you can’t compare like statistics. Secondly, they will point out that SO many rules have changed between tackling and contact allowed, that no comparison can be made to modern players.

Both of these are reasonable. But this is the OFF-SEASON people… and we don’t have anything better to do (unless you want to read other article on Mike Vick?). So, now that I’ve mentioned the general foolishness of this post, lets have some historic fun!

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The first comparison everyone throws out there is Deion Sanders (oh, what a surprise). I think I should quickly run over this one so we can move on to more exciting (but somewhat older) corners of yesteryear…

Deion Sanders recorded 429 tackles, 123 passes defended and 53 interceptions over his 14 year career. He also won two Super Bowl rings. He was a remarkable athlete, but his cover skills were alway better than this tackling. Luckly, we have modern stats for Deion, so we can easily compare the two.

Deion Sanders (by his 8th year) — Tackles=282, Passes Defended=83, Interceptions=34

Champ Bailey (by his 8th year)– Tackles=493, Passes Defended=138, Interceptions=39

Deion Sanders has been credited with the statement “You show me a corner that can tackle, and I’ll show you one that can’t cover.” To this I present CHAMP BAILEY! He has already passed Neon Deion’s TOTAL career tackles and passes defended numbers and is on pace to beat his total interception numbers. Deion may be the only NFL player to also play in a World Series, but when it comes to pure cornerbacks, Champ has him beat hands down. Champ is the complete package — tackling & covering.

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OK, now for some contenders from past generations. I had to limit my list to ‘pure’ corners (not defensive backs which include safeties). The records for career interceptions fall to some of histories best Safeties, but we’re talking right now about CORNERBACKS. The following men have more than excelled at this position — they have redefined it in their time. Almost all of them are in the Hall of Fame and their accomplishments are staggering….

First, I must make a Raider’s disclaimer, as many of them will ask why Lester Hayes isn’t on this list. To be honest, I just don’t think he is in the same class as the other men I have listed. He is best known for getting Stickum banned in 1981. And while Sticky Finger Lester Hayes did record 13 interceptions that year, the year after its ban it dropped to 3 (and he totaled only 14 more intercepts in his last six year of his career). In fact, Champ has equaled his total number of career interceptions in his first eight years. And while Lester does have a Super Bowl ring, his numbers just aren’t comparable to these other men.

Broncos Logo We’ll start with another man that Champ actually played with at Washington. A man that played 20 years at the corner position. That’s right, Darrell Green. From 1983 until 2002, Green amassed 54 interceptions and 8 TD’s. He spent all 20 years with the Redskins and owns Super Bowl rings from #22 & #26. However, if you compare them at year eight of Green’s career, Champ’s 39 interceptions overshadow Green’s 24. Now, just for fun, let’s project what would happen if Champ were to go another 12 seasons at his current pace — he would have nearly 100 interceptions! We can only hope Champ plays until he’s 42! 🙂

Broncos Logo Next in my list would be Mike Haynes. Haynes attended nine Pro Bowls over his 14 season career. He ended his career with 46 interceptions, four TD’s and a Super Bowl ring (Raiders SB#18) — no wonder he’s in the Hall of Fame. Of course, at year eight in Hayne’s career Champ has him by 10 interceptions and several TD’s. Champ needs a ring and a couple more Pro Bowls, but things look good for Champ vs Haynes.

Broncos Logo Denver’s closest thing to a challenger would be Hall of Famer Willie Brown. (OK, he played most of his career in Oakland.. but his first three years were with the orange & blue). Brown intercepted 54 passes and scored two touchdowns. His biggest steal, however, came in Super Bowl XI, when he returned an interception 75 yards for the clinching touchdown. Again, at year eight Champ has Brown by 7 interceptions and a few TD’s. He only needs 18 more interceptions and a ring or two to pass Brown, but that should be obtainable.

Broncos Logo Another Hall of Famer, Richard Lane (better known as Dick “Night Train” Lane) was a true beast. He blew onto the NFL scene in 1952 with a rookie record 14 interceptions. By the time his 14 year career was done, he had racked up 68 interceptions, 1207 yards and five TDs. He was named to seven Pro Bowls, but never won a Super Bowl ring. Night Train vs Champ would be a great match up (or fantasy team tandem), but Champ plays in a different era than Lane. Lane was a ball hawk, but that was before Pass Interference become what it is today. Lane was also considered a great open field tackler at the time, but tackling from the neck and head were legal then. Even so, by Night Train’s 126th game, he had racked up 58 interceptions (19 better than Champ’s total for the same number of games).* And while Champ has tighter rules to deal with, if Champ plays another 6 years, he has a chance to match Lane’s 68 interceptions. And if Champ can added a ring or two, that would allow him to pass the old Night Train.

Broncos Logo But without a doubt, I would have to say that Champ’s biggest challenger for G.O.A.T. Cornerback would be Pittsburgh Steeler legend and current Hall of Famer, Mel Blount. From 1970 until 1983, Blount terrorized wideouts. He was 6’2″ and 205 lbs of pure ball-hawking madness. He not only appeared in five pro bowls, but also won four Super Bowls (#9, #10, #13 & #14). In his 14 seasons he totaled 57 interceptions, 13 fumble recoveries and scored a total of four TDs. Most impressively, Blount’s harassment of his receivers single-handedly forced the NFL to adopt the Pass Interference Penalty (originally nicked named the ‘Melblount’ rule). With four World Championship rings, and more interceptions than Prime Time, Blunt is the man to beat if you want this title. At the 126 game mark in Blount’s career, Champ would be trailing him by only one interception, but the real challenge that Blount creates is not statical.* Blount won FOUR rings and changed the game. Mark my words, this will be Champ’s biggest rival for the G.O.A.T. title.

* As the number of games each season was shorter (12 instead of 14), I have compared their numbers at game ~126 in their career with Champ at the same point (end of 2006). Thanks, Dean, for pointing that out!

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In summary, I think Champ has the skills, talent, intelligence, drive (and is on the right team) to top all of these guys. He has already shown the world eight awesome years of dominance. If he can maintain that level of play for the next few years and play wisely into his 13-14 year in the league, there will be no other corner in the history of football that could rival him.

And I, for one, am truly excited that we have the honor of having Champ play in a Denver uniform and I can’t wait to see what he accomplishes in 2007 and beyond!

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DOGFISH: Camp Preview Secondary

July 13, 2007

Everyone is getting ready for camp, and NFL.com has even done a nice video feature on what the Broncos have done this off-season and what we can expect later this month at Training Camp (TC).

And speaking of previewing TC, our guest author Dogfish has the final installment of his Camp Preview series. This time the focus is Denver’s defensive secondary.

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LINEBACKERS

OVERVIEW:

I’m pretty satisfied with this group overall, but I do think there’s more uncertainty at the position entering this year than we’ve seen in quite some time. I feel that we lost the best player of the unit in Al Wilson, but we should have enough solid LBs to get the job done with some improved D-line play.

D.J.’s transition to the middle will be one of the main areas of focus for this group in TC, especially teaching him how to line up the defense and make the correct calls. We’ll also be breaking in at least one new starter on the strong side, although it’s likely to be a vet who does have some starting experience elsewhere.

I’m also interested to see if anyone can mount a challenge to Gold–I certainly hope so. At worst the competition will keep him on his toes, and at best someone like Holdman just MIGHT prove good enough to replace him. I like Gold, but he didn’t impress last year. While I don’t see anyone unseating him in camp, I can see someone potentially challenging him for playing time down the stretch if he doesn’t play better than he was at the end of last year. And if someone gives him a run for his spot in camp, it’ll make that all the more likely.

The addition of Eddie Moore is a bit of a wild card. Moore was a second round pick of the Dolphins a few years back, but he never really panned out. It’s debatable whether Bates likes him enough to give him a second chance here, or if he was really just brought in to help the other LBs learn the system. As Bates didn’t get much out of him in Miami, I’m inclined to suspect that it’s the latter, but you never know.

Cameron Vaughn supposedly has nice potential, T.J. Hollowell has been invited back for another camp, and Louis Green has a few years experience with the club. Those guys will be competing for the backup linebacker spot (or spots, depending on how many we keep this year—right now, with the way the rest of the roster looks to be breaking down, I’m leaning towards five), but special teams play is likely to be an important determining factor. I have FA acquisition D.D. Lewis penciled in as a slight favorite to earn one of those last spots based on reportedly solid ST play in Seattle, as well as some experience playing on the defensive side of the ball.
PLAYER TO WATCH:

D.J. Williams! This is his chance to at last prove that he’s the star most people on this board think, rather than the solid-but-unspectacular player that we’ve seen the past two years. Although I won’t read too much into TC reports for a guy who’s playing his third position in four years, it’ll nonetheless be our first indication of how well D.J. will handle the transition. I think his ability to adapt, including making the line calls, will be one of the biggest factors in just how good our Defense can be this year. And it may influence our draft next year as well, so it’s definitely worth paying close attention to. I’ve said before, I think this is a make-or-break year for D.J. in denver, so he needs to come into camp prepared for the mental challenge.

BEST POSITION BATTLE:

Nate Webster vs. Warrick Holdman for the starting SAM linebacker spot.  Other than the battle for the backup spots, I expect this to be the ONLY real battle battle among the LB corps in camp, and it may well drag on right up to the start of the season or even beyond.  Moore was reportedly running with the first team in OTAs, but I suspect that may have been a result of his experience in Bates’ system more than anything else. Of course he could challenge for a starting spot, but I think the other guys will pass him up once they learn the scheme. Webster may be the more physically talented player, but Holdman is probably more reliable and consistent–he’s also been more durable, and I give him a slight edge.

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART:

1. D.J. Williams
2. Ian Gold
3. T.J. Holdman
4. Nate Webster
5. D.D. Lewis

CORNERBACKS

OVERVIEW:

This looks like possibly the strongest position on the team entering camp. Not only did we add a two-time pro-bowler to play across from the legend, but Dominique Foxworth and Karl Paymah make us very strong all the way down to our dime back. Shanahan isn’t likely to overwork Champ in TC or the preseason, so the younger guys will get plenty of chances to play with the starters. That will give Bates a chance to gauge just how good they are, and that could potentially affect any contract talks if we decide to extend either of them before they hit restricted free agency.

Jeff Shoate is still hanging around, and I would guess that this is his last chance to make an impact. We brought in three corners (Bill Alford, Kevin House and Lamont Reid) from NFLE, so we may be looking for another developmental project. I don’t know about PS eligibility for those guys, but if we keep any of them that would seem like the most probable destination. Curome Cox’s ability to play some corner has allowed us to roll with just four true CBs in the past, and I think we will most likely go that route again this year. Whether Cox plays some corner in TC could give us an early indication if that’s what we’ll do.
PLAYER TO WATCH:

Karl Paymah. If this were a regular season preview, Dre Bly would get this spot for sure, but I don’t know that we’ll really learn what we need to know about him from camp reports. He’s a natural fit for this system, and I expect him to play well in shorts and T-shirts, but Paymah is definitely a player to keep an eye on this year. He reportedly had the most upside of the three corners we drafted in ’04, and I thought he finally started to show some of that at the end of last year, with very solid games against Arizona, Cincy and San Francisco. I’ve felt for a while now that confidence was Paymah’s biggest hurdle–if the light has come on, we may see some good things from him.
Paymah was also lost trying to play Coyer’s stupid fifteen-yard cushion. He’s a physical corner who will be MUCH more comfortable in Bates man-to-man coverage, especially when he’s allowed to play bump-and-run. Even if he doesn’t win one of the top spots, I think he could end up playing a fairly significant role for us this season.
BEST POSITION BATTLE:

Dominique Foxworth vs. Karl Paymah for the nickel back spot. Don’t just assume that Foxworth has this locked up because he’s been ahead of Paymah the past two years. As just mentioned, Bates is bringing a new system that may play to Paymah’s strengths more than Foxworth’s. I do expect Fox to withstand the challenge, but I’m not writing Paymah off just yet. Ultimately I really like both players. I’m happy to finally have some QUALITY youth at the position after quite a few years getting by with odds and ends, and I hope that we move aggressively to lock at least one of them up long-term. Whoever loses this battle will still get plenty of opportunities to contribute, as we traditionally have scored early and put teams in comeback mode.

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART:

1. Champ Bailey
2. Dre Bly
3. Domonique Foxworth
4. Karl Paymah

SAFETIES

OVERVIEW:

Really, there’s not a whole lot to talk about here. Unless something unexpected happens, the depth chart looks to be rather set here–at least towards the top. We didn’t bring in any new blood at the position except for UDFA Roderick Rogers, and I can’t see him as more than a PS player at this point. Steve Cargile and Quentin Harris were desperation hires last year–I doubt either makes the squad. Maybe Brandon or Abdullah can at least challenge Ferguson for a starting spot (I’m sure Lynch will put in a good word to Shenanigans for Hamza 🙂 ). . .

Really, the health of Ferguson and Brandon will be the biggest question that TC can answer. And even if they do prove to be fully healthy, I think their reps will probably be limited until at least the preseason (probably Lynch’s as well– he hardly has anything left to prove, or learn).

PLAYER TO WATCH:

Sam Brandon. Given the TEs we have to face in our division, Brandon’s importance can’t be overstated IMO. He may not start, but he plays a valuable role! Gates had his biggest game against us last year with Brandon out of the lineup. Coming off a knee injury can be tricky for a DB, and Brandon also backs up the CB spot. His return to full health is important to us, and if he’s ever going to challenge for a full-time starting position, this should be the year.

BEST POSITION BATTLE:

I’ll say Ferguson vs. the Field for the starting SS spot, but I’m really not sure how much of a battle it’ll turn out to be.

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART:

1. John Lynch
2. Nick Ferguson
3. Sam Brandon
4. Curome Cox
5. Hamza Abdullah

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Well, that wraps up the special camp preview series by our guest author Dogfish. I strongly encourage you to check out the forums over at broncomania, where Dogfish and many other insightful fans chat about everything under the sun!