Archive for the ‘Troy Fleming’ Category

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Things I’m looking forward to tonight

August 13, 2007

“We don’t pay much attention to the first preseason game… I hate to say that, but it’s the truth.” 

— Mike Shanahan 8/10/07

Mike Shanahan doesn’t care about the rematch against the team who knocked the Broncos out of the playoff less than a year ago.  He hasn’t broken down the 49ers offense or defense.  He hasn’t spent hours preparing a special game plan or scripting the plays for Cutler’s first drive.  He just doesn’t care.

OK… more correctly, he cares — just not about the term ‘game.’

Mike Shanahan and his coaches view the coming Monday night skirmish as an extended practice, not a full football game.

Yes, it will be under the glaring lights of ESPN’s Monday Night Football cameras.  Yes, a football hungry nation will be watching, as tonight symbolizes the beginning of the season to many fans.  But just because millions of viewers will be tuning in won’t mean that the Bronco’s Head Coach will take his eyes off the prize.

And the ‘prize’ is a championship season in 2007.

From that perspective, the only thing that matters tonight is evaluating his personnel under game-play situations.

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That’s why I love the preseason, really.  I look forward to seeing all the fresh faces and lesser known players give 110% effort as they fight for a roster spot.  These preseason games can bring more energy and emotion than playoff games sometimes (just ask TD about Tokyo).

So, here is a list of things I’m looking forward to seeing tonight (mostly in order of importance to my personal entertainment):

1.  Jim Bates sideline manner – Oh, PLEASE get him a mic ESPN!!!!!

Bates and his coaches have been very vocal during camp and I can’t wait to see his sideline coaching style in his first game as a Bronco!

2.  Pass Rush – Blow ‘em up boys!
With all the attention the Broncos have placed on the D-line, I want to see even our 3rd and 4th teams terrorizing the 49ers tonight.  We will also get to see our rookies playing for the first time in orange and blue, which should be fun… And, heck, a little bit of payback is a good thing!

3.  Patrick Ramsey and Darrell Hackney – Let’s see your fastball guys!

Patrick Ramsey has shown great strides in learning Shanahan’s offensive system, so I’m looking forward to seeing him tonight.  I know there will be some struggling (especially early on) as this is his first game with the new unit, but the coaches have been impressed with his intelligence and the speed at which he’s picked up the scheme.  Darrell Hackney has also had a very good camp.  Tonight will give him a chance to show off his talents (not the least of which is his arm strength).

4.  Our young WR’s – who’s left?
We have some talented guys with not a lot of starting experience (and some with none).  However, players like Kircus, Hixon, Morgan and Clark have all done very well at camp.  It will be interesting to see how they do during tonight’s skirmish.

5.  Ground Assualt – Let’s see ‘em roll!
While I look forward to seeing our RB’s take the field, I have my doubts about their production this evening due to the missing starters along the O-line.  Lepsis and Hamilton will sit this one out.   That will cause the rest of the line to shuffle (all but Tom Nalen that is).  However, I think we should still be able to see flashes from our backs well into the 3rd and 4th teams tonight.  Of course, my favorite lesser known Bronco RB is Andre Hall and I can’t wait to see what he makes of his chances when the lights are on.

6.  What about SAM – who’s going to make the big play on the Strong Side?
Well, the reps have been split between Nate Webster and D.D. Lewis throughout camp.  Holdman and Moore are out and Green (listed as the starter) is battling a knee injury.  So, will it be Webster or Lewis that stands out this evening?


OTHER AREAS TO WATCH:

Broncos Logo   Strong Secondary – With the starters not getting many reps we’ll have to wait to see much of the Champ & Bly show for at least another week.  Still… We have some good backups, and it will be fun to see how well they do.

Broncos Logo   Full Backs – Watch the FB’s tonights carefully.  Kyle has been leading the work, but Paul Smith, Tony Fleming and even Cecil Sapp may get some reps.

Broncos Logo   Depth at O-line – Backup and rookie O-linemen should be fun to watch tonight.  This will be a great chance to see how they’re coming along.

Broncos Logo   D.J. in the Middle – Again, the starters won’t be in very long, but while they are D.J. Williams will likely make some big plays.

Broncos Logo   TE’s catching & blocking – We should see some of both from our TE’s this evening – it should be fun to watch!

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TRAINING CAMP: DAY 8

August 6, 2007

NOTES AND NEWS FROM DAY EIGHT OF TRAINING CAMP:

Jarvis Moss

Another day, another injury…

Like Holdman’s terrifying neck injury, the team was rocked today when their #1 draft pick, Jarvis Moss, fell to the field screaming in pain and holding his left knee.

Like Holdman, Moss was loaded onto the team medical cart and driven away from the grounds to a hospital to be checked out.

And like Holdman, the news from the doctors was a welcomed relief. In fact, so good was the news that Jarvis returned to the afternoon practice to watch his teammates complete the day’s work and to let them know he was OK.

“Everything checked out. It kind of scared me for a minute. I felt like it was something real serious, but I’m fine. I’m going to go rehab tonight, and hopefully I’m ready to go in the morning.”

— Jarvis Moss 8/6/07

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So, with that little scare behind everyone, we can get back the really important news this Monday — OFFICIAL DEPTH CHARTS! That’s right, today Shanahan posts the first official depth chart for the team.

OK, that’s a bit over-dramatic… These camp depth charts don’t mean all that much. I mean they don’t stay the same for long, and by tomorrow it could be well outdated. But it’s still a great way to gauge who the coaches have their eyes on. So, on with the juicy news!

Read the rest of this entry ?

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DOGFISH: Camp Preview – QB’s & RB’s

July 9, 2007

With mini-camp starting today, I thought it would be nice to begin considering what’s in store for us during Training Camp later this month.  Conveniently for me, one of my favorite forum members has recently written a great camp preview for each position.  Dogfish has impressed me with his insightful articles on everything from the draft to special teams.  And with permission to re-post these great articles here, we will begin with Dogfish’s look at Quarterbacks and Running Backs.

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GUEST AUTHOR: DOGFISH 

Here is an advance preview to take a look at some of the most interesting position battles, and hopefully spark some discussion. . .

QUARTERBACKS

OVERVIEW:

What really needs said here? The purpose of Training Camp (TC) is clear at this position–get Jay Cutler ready! This TC will be big for Cutler, as it’s his first as the unquestioned starter.  And he will need all of those first-team reps to help develop chemistry with all the new targets he’s going to have this year.   He showed a great rappoire with Marshall and Scheffler when inserted into the starting lineup last season, so it will be of particular importance for him to get his timing down with his most dangerous weapon, Javon Walker.   He also needs to get in more reps with Tom Nalen–and clear up the issues they had with the exchange.  And I suspect we’ll be installing more shotgun formations, as well.   In addition to working on his mechanics, reads and pocket presence, Cutler will continue to delve into the playbook–and facing Champ Bailey and Dre Bly every day in practice should also be a good learning experience for him. 

TC will also be an opportunity for newly-acquired backup QB Patrick Ramsey to start learning the denver system, and will give the coaches their first real chance to see what he can do first-hand.   And for Preston Parsons and Darrell Hackney, it will be a chance to prove that they belong on the team.

PLAYER TO WATCH:

Obviously, this is Jay Cutler– no individual player’s performance is likely to be more pivotal to the success of the team.   So, hopefully, he can get off to a good start in TC and begin to establish himself as a leader on offense.

BEST POSITION BATTLE:

Preston Parsons vs. Darrell Hackney for the #3 QB spot– IF we even keep a third QB on the 53-man roster, which I suspect we won’t.  I’m not sure if Parsons has practice squad eligibility left or not.  If he doesn’t, Hackney may win this battle by default unless parsons impresses so much in camp that they just can’t cut him.

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART:

1. Jay Cutler
2. Patrick Ramsey

RUNNING BACKS & FULL BACKS

OVERVIEW:

This feels like the first time in a while that we’re going into TC without the top tailback spot being up for grabs.   Although he’s the newcomer, I feel that camp will be more important for some of the younger backs than for Henry.  Of course he needs to learn our playbook and get comfortable in the Zone Blocking Scheme (ZBS), but RB is the easiest plug-and-play position in the game.   Henry is an instinctive runner who fits perfectly into our system, and he has little to prove in camp–the coaching staff will want to get a more precise read on his abilities than what they can get watching film, but hopefully keeping him healthy and fresh will be the top priority. 

Mike Bell, however, will have to show that he’s improved on a few weak spots if he wants to hold off Cecil Sapp, Andre Hall and Selvin Young for the #2 spot on the depth chart. 

The picture at fullback is a little muddier, and there should be plenty of tough competition.  It’ll be interesting to see if Sapp plays exclusivley at tailback, or if he’s in the mix at FB as well– if he’s not, veteran Kyle Johnson would seem to have the first chance at the starting role.   TC should help determine whether Paul Smith will be used on offense, or merely on special teams.  Troy Fleming, who has blocked for Henry before, should get a chance to unseat KJ, and Thump Belton will be facing an uphill battle to free himself.  🙂   

I see us most likely keeping two FBs (an offensive starter, and Smith as a special teamer), plus Sapp in a swing role, so all of these guys will have to be at their best.

PLAYER TO WATCH:

Cecil Sapp– This will be a big camp for ‘Cecil the Deisel,’ as he finally gets a legit chance to make his presence felt at tailback (the spot where he starred at CSU).   His versatility and unselfishness will likely earn him a roster spot either way, but you can bet he’ll be highly motivated.  He’s reportedly lost weight to maximize his quickness, and I look for the more powerful Sapp to give Mike Bell all he can handle in the battle for the top backup spot.

BEST POSITION BATTLE:

Selvin Young vs. Andre Hall for what’s likely to be the last RB spot on the roster.   I’ll have my eye on this battle as closely as any in camp.   These are both guys I wanted to see here coming out of college, and I think they have pretty comparable skill sets–both are undersized but quick and shifty, scatback types who are solid receivers out of the backfield.   I think Young may have a bit more footspeed, but he has some fairly serious durability concerns. . . Hall has the advantage of a year in our system.   Whoever wins, I think the loser is very likely to land on the practice squad–if he clears waivers.  It may be a bit of a longshot, but i also wouldn’t put it past one of these two to really shine in camp and get a chance to fight for the #2 spot.

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART:

1. Travis Henry
2. Mike Bell
3. Cecil Sapp
4. SelvinYoung

1. Kyle Johnson
2. Paul Smith

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Tomorrow Dogfish takes on WR’s & TE’s. 

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Off-Season Recap

June 27, 2007

In an attempt to put our busy off-season into perspective, I’ve organized most of our moves and notable news this off-season into one timeline.  I did add two items from 2006 (Jay Cutler’s starting at QB and Al Wilson injuring his neck).  I’ve also added this timeline to a page under the Information.

Let me know if I missed anything.

2007 OFFSEASON TIMELINE

  • 11/27/06 — Cutler is named the starting QB. 
  • 12/3/06 — Al Wilson injures his neck during the Seattle game.
  • 1/01/07 — Shooting death of starting CB Darrent Williams.
  • 1/02/07 — Denver signs ten players for the 2007 season: FB Troy Fleming, QB Darrell Hackney, DE Carlos Hall, LB T.J. Hollowell, P Eddie Johnson, TE Teyo Johnson, G Kevin McAlmont, CB Lamont Reid, T Jacob Rogers and LB Cameron Vaughn.
  • 1/04/07 — Denver signs FB Thump Belton, CB Eric Hill, WR Glenn Martinez and G Doug Nienhius for the 2007 season.
  • 1/05/07 — Denver signs RB Andre Hall and CB Jeff Shoate for the 2007 season.
  • 1/09/07 — Denver fires Defensive Coordinator Larry Coyer.
  • 1/10/07 — Denver cuts loose defensive line/tackles coach Andre Patterson.
  • 1/11/07 — Jim Bates is is named Denver’s assistant head coach/defense and Bob Slowik is promoted from secondary coach to defensive coordinator.
  • 1/12/07 — Denver allocates five to NFL Europa: C Greg Eslinger, TE Teyo Johnson, G Kevin McAlmont, T Doug Nienhuis and CB Lamont Reid.
  • 1/16/07 — Denver’s TE coach, Tim Brewster, accepts the head coaching job at the University of Minnesota.
  • 1/17/07 — Bill Johnson is hired as the teams defensive line coach.
  • 1/28/07 — The Broncos hire Scott O’Brien as special-teams coach, Joe Baker as linebackers coach and moving former special-teams coach Ronnie Bradford to assistant defensive backs coach.
  • 2/11/07 — John Lynch and Champ Bailey help the AFC win the Pro Bowl.
  • 2/25/07 — RB Damien Nash passes away after a charity basketball event. 
  • 2/26/07 — Rod Smith undergoes hip surgery.
  • 3/02/07 — Denver trades with Detroit: CB Dre Bly for RB Tatum Bell, George Foster and a 5th-round pick in the draft.
  • 3/03/07 — Jake Plummer retires as the Broncos trade him to the Bucs for a conditional draft pick in 2008.  Denver also trade their 6th-round pick to Miami for a DT Dan Wilkinson.
  • 3/05/07 — Denver signs RB Travis Henry, G Montrae Holland and RB Paul Smith.
  • 3/09/07 — Denver signs TE Daniel Graham.
  • 3/12/07 — Denver re-signs WR Quincy Morgan.
  • 3/13/07 — Denver re-signs DE Kenny Peterson.
  • 3/19/07 — DE Courtney Brown is released.  Denver signs QB Patrick Ramsey.
  • 3/20/07 — Denver signs DT Alvin McKinley.
  • 3/22/07 — Denver signs WR Brandon Stokley.
  • 3/24/07 — Denver hires defensive assistant Charlie Jackson.
  • 3/28/07 — CB Dre Bly and the Broncos agree to a contract extention.
  • 3/31/07 — Denver’s trade with Miami for Dan Wilkinson is voided when Wilkinson doesn’t showup for his physical.
  • 4/03/07 — Off-season workouts begin.
  • 4/09/07 — Mike Shanahan agrees to a contract extention.
  • 4/12/07 — Denver signs WR David Terrell. 2007-08 NFL schedule is released.
  • 4/20/07 — Denver signs kicker Todd Sauerbrun.
  • 4/26/07 — Denver releases LB Al Wilson and signs LB Warrick Holdman and LB D.D. Lewis.
  • 4/28/07 — Denver moves up to draft DE Jarvis Moss.  They also draft DE Tim Crowder and OT Ryan Harris. 
  • 4/29/07 — Denver again moves up and drafts DT Marcus Thomas.
  • 5/01/07 — Denver waives RB Cedric Cobbs.
  • 5/02/07 — Denver signs five college free agents: G Tim Duckworth, DT Steven Harris, WR Marquay McDaniel, S Roderick Rogers and RB Selvin Young.
  • 5/07/07 — Denver signs college free agents C Mark Fenton and kicker Brandon Pace.  They release Tim Duckworth.
  • 5/14/07 — Denver waives TE Landon Trusty.
  • 5/16/07 — OTA days start with QB Camp.
  • 5/21/07 — TE Tony Scheffler breaks his left foot during practice. 
  • 5/29/07 — OTA days continue as Team Camp begins.
  • 6/04/07 — Denver signs DT Sam Adams.
  • 6/07/07 — Denver trades with St. Louis for DT Jimmy Kennedy.  They release CB Eric Hill.
  • 6/21/07 — C Greg Eslinger is named to the All-NFL Europa Team for his performance with the Cologne Centurions. 
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The ‘Free Thump Belton’ Movement

June 23, 2007

“… And can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking in, sing a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. Now then, friends, they may think it’s a movement…. And that’s what it is….”

— from Alice’s Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie

For those of you not aware of the Free Thump Belton Movement, let me bring you up to speed…

Back in March, a Denver Broncos fan with the screen name Fan In Exile read a post on the message board about players on the roster that would certainly be cut before the regular season. He was struck most by the negative nature of the post and the way purported fans ridiculed these unknown Broncos.

“It really irritated me first because we on the board aren’t pro-talent evaluators, and it was only march. So I decided I wanted to cheer for someone who really looked like he wouldn’t make the team, instead of just writing him off as camp fodder. I mean these are real people chasing their dreams – that’s worth cheering on.”

— Fan in Exile 6/21/07

That decision lead him to review the list composed by the author of the post. Among the list, was a name he had never seen before (anywhere) — Fullback Thump Belton.

Thump Belton was picked up by the Broncos in late 2006. He had not played a game in the NFL although he spent 2004 and 2005 on the practice squads of Detroit and Chicago. Without pro experience and sitting behind guys like Kyle Johnson, Troy Fleming, Cecil Sapp and Paul Smith, Belton looked like the perfect long-shot to root for. However, Fan In Exile did not just pick Belton because of his long odds –he liked the idea of a fullback named THUMP.

Now that he had his player picked out, it was time to activate the masses. And with an elegant post including a quote from Animal House, the Free Thump Belton Movement was launched!

“So here’s the plan, we start a movement. We come up with sigs and a slogan. We do everything we can to make sure he stays with the team and becomes the starting fullback. Then we can make signs and posters and tee-shirts and go to games it will be awesome.”

— Fan In Exile 3/8/07

FULL THREAD

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Now, more than three months after his first post, the Free Thump Belton Movement has picked up some momentum. In recent articles on Thump, Andrew Mason from denverbroncos.com referred to the Movement and it is even found it’s way into Belton’s Wikipidia page.

“I have been surprised. I didn’t know Andrew even read the boards much less that he noticed the Free Thump Belton Movement. It also surprised me that someone would put it on Thump’s Wikipedia page. I think it’s pretty cool.”

— Fan In Exile 6/21/07

And as articles on Belton began coming out, we learned more about this relatively unknown player.

Belton, it turns out, was one of the hottest recruits in North Carolina after rushing for 1,327 yards and 18 touchdowns during his senior year at West Charlotte High School. Syracuse recruited him heavily, but Belton was declared academically ineligible because of his SAT scores.

Belton had to spend two years in a Junior college before he could jump to a Division-I school. To add further hardship, Thump tore his ACL this first year at community college, thus ending his first college football season. In the end, it may have been the best thing that could have happened to him. With no football distractions, Belton concentrated on his academics and it paid off. He took 23 credits during three semesters and graduated half a year early.

In January 2001, he transferred to Syracuse where he saw action in every game his first season and rushed for 57 yards on nine attempts. In all Belton totaled 327 yards on 61 carries (5.3 avg) during his years at Syracuse.

After college Belton was picked up as an undrafted free agent by Detroit where he spent 2004 on the practice squad. When Chicago offered him a roster spot, he dashed North in a heartbeat. However, in Sept. of last year, after another year on another practice squad, Chicago cut him loose. With no teams interested, Belton went home to North Carolina and spent the end of last year teaching and coaching at a local High School.

In December last year, the Broncos called and offered him a chance to come into camp to compete for a roster spot. And so, with little fanfare, Thump Belton entered the mile high city and began working with Rich Tuten in Denver’s off-season conditioning program. Preparing himself, as best he can, for the coming fight for a place on the Broncos roster.

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Fan In Exile, has learned much about the player he picked for his nickname in March. So, what’s impressed him most about his Movement’s star?

“First that he said his experience brought him back to his faith. I’m a pastor as well as a Broncos fan so I look at this and think it’s great that he’s looking after his spiritual well being first. Next, it’s impressive that he took full responsibility for why he wasn’t with Detroit and Chicago anymore, I think that’s the sign of a quality person. Next it’s impressive that his job was substitute teaching at a High School and coaching high school football. I think this shows he isn’t just looking for a high paying job, but thinks about others, and loves football, which I find pretty cool.”

— Fan In Exile 6/21/07

And what if the ‘Fullback with a Fullback’s name’ makes the team?

“I think that depends on where he is on the depth chart. If he’s a back-up I could celebrate with a Start Thump Belton movement. If he’s the starter maybe a Give Thump the Ball movement. “

— Fan In Exile 6/21/07

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Whatever happens, I agree with my exiled friend. Thump Belton is more than just ‘camp fodder’ or ‘filler’. Like every other unknown player, he has a story. He has beliefs and passion. He has the desire to play football and is willing to work toward that dream. Few people will lay aside their stable jobs and move away from their families to follow their dreams, but many NFL players do that every year.

It seems to me that many members of the media (and some fans) seem to occasionally cross the line between speculating and mockery. Between analyzing and cruelty.

I would challenge fans of the Broncos to be more like Fan In Exile. Whether you join the Free Thump Belton Movement, or choose another of our newest and most unknown players, I would encourage you to pick a favorite. Learn about them. Cheer for them. Talk to other fans about them. Make it personal. To me, that’s what it’s all about.

I, myself, am pulling for Andre Hall and a handful of others… however, I would like to think I have an honorary membership in the Free Thump Belton Movement. 🙂

Free Thump Belton Movement

Getting to Know Thump Belton at Denverboncos.com: FULL STORY

Andrew Mason’s Bonus Blog on Thump: FULL POST

Syracuse’s Daily Orange newspaper article from 9/20/02: FULL ARTICLE

P.S. If you haven’t seen Animal House, please do yourself a favor and rent it.

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