Anyone can predict the roster after the last preseason game. Start with penciling in the guys who don’t play and go from there.
Selecting it in July, before the first whistle of training camp? There’s a challenge. Making it more difficult are the potential for injuries — one of which changed the original version I offered on Mile High Sports Radio on Tuesday night, when I had Eric Page making the 53-man roster as a punt returner. Page tore his anterior cruciate ligament and was released Wednesday, along with cornerback Coryell Judie.
So that changes things a bit from the original radio broadcast, which you can listen to here in six files shown below. To get to the bulk of the roster discussion, listen to segments Four through Six; if you want to listen to our discussion of the pronunciation of “praline,” references to The Karate Kid (original version) and a brief breakdown of quarterbacks, listen to the first three parts. The quarterback discussion is in Segment Three.
With the knowledge of Page’s fate — which alters the 53-man and practice-squad projections — as well as the ineligibility of linebacker D.J. Williams and tight end Virgil Green for the final LIII, here’s the final 53-man prediction, plus a practice-squad projection:
- QUARTERBACKS (3): Peyton Manning, Caleb Hanie, Brock Osweiler (R).
- RUNNING BACKS (3): Willis McGahee, Ronnie Hillman (R), Lance Ball*.
- FULLBACK (1): Chris Gronkowski.
- TIGHT ENDS (3): Jacob Tamme, Joel Dreessen, Julius Thomas.
- WIDE RECEIVERS (6): Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, Brandon Stokley, Andre Caldwell, Mark Dell, Gerell Robinson (R).
- OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9): Ryan Clady, Chris Kuper, J.D. Walton, Zane Beadles, Orlando Franklin, Ryan Harris, Manuel Ramirez, Philip Blake (R), Chris Clark.
- DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (9): Elvis Dumervil, Robert Ayers, Justin Bannan, Ty Warren, Jason Hunter, Kevin Vickerson, Malik Jackson (R), Derek Wolfe (R), Sealver Siliga.
- LINEBACKERS (6): Von Miller, Joe Mays, Wesley Woodyard, Nate Irving, Danny Trevathan (R), Steven Johnson (R).
- DEFENSIVE BACKS (10): Champ Bailey, Tracy Porter, Mike Adams, Rahim Moore, Quinton Carter, Drayton Florence, Chris Harris, Rafael Bush, Syd’Quan Thompson, Omar Bolden (R).
- SPECIAL TEAMS (3): Lonie Paxton, Matt Prater, Britton Colquitt.
- PRACTICE SQUAD (8): QB Adam Weber, RB Mario Fannin, TE Anthony Miller, WR D’Andre Goodwin, OL Wayne Tribue, DL Ben Garland, LB Mike Mohamed, S Duke Ihenacho.
* Why the asterisk on Ball? Because Knowshon Moreno isn’t here. Clearly he’s one of the 53 best players in training camp. And if anything happens to McGahee or Ronnie Hillman, Moreno will not only make the roster, but play extensively and be an integral part of the running back rotation. But if the Broncos keep three runners — and their complement stays healthy — then it might be tough for Moreno to claim a spot when Ball has proven that he fits the jack-of-all-trades job description of a third-string running back, just like Nick Goings did for John Fox in Carolina from 2002-08 after playing one season under George Seifert there. If the Broncos keep four running backs, Moreno’s a lock. If McGahee or Hillman are injured, Moreno’s a lock. But assuming full health at the position, he’s anything but.