Print and Go Back ESPN.com: AFC West [Print without images]

Saturday, July 26, 2008
Broncos position battles

By Bill Williamson
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The Broncos have some interesting battles at key skill position spots.

 
 Steve Dykes/Getty Images
 Selvin Young should get the first chance to start for the Broncos.

No. 1 tailback: Selvin Young vs. Ryan Torain

Once again, the Broncos' starting tailback job is up for grabs. The Broncos enter training camp with four tailbacks: Young, Torain, Michael Pittman and Andre Hall. There will be room for all four. Pittman will be a third-down back who'll provide good receiving, short-yardage running and blocking in those situations. Hall is a small, speedy player perfectly suited to give the starter a breather.

Shanahan is fine with using a committee but someone needs to start. Young will get the first crack. He led the team with 729 yards rushing as an undrafted rookie. But he is injury prone and has yet to show he can carry the ball 20 times a game. Torain is the wild card. The fifth-round pick from Arizona State will get a chance to show he can handle several carries a game. Shanahan has proved he doesn't mind using rookie running backs. Young is the leader in the clubhouse but it won't be a surprise if Torain overtakes him.

  

 Jackson

 Colbert

Intensity index: Hot.

No. 2 receiver: Darrell Jackson vs. Keary Colbert

The Broncos are in need of a No. 2 receiver with the promotion of Brandon Marshall and the release of former No. 1 receiver Javon Walker. The Broncos have a lot of receivers behind Marshall in the form of Jackson, Colbert, Brandon Stokley, Sami Parker and second-round pick Eddie Royal who was impressive in minicamp.

While Denver has depth at receiver, it needs a receiver who can catch 50-60 balls to emerge. Jackson and Colbert will likely get the first crack. Colbert was signed on the second day of free agency to be a potential starter but the Broncos jumped on Jackson after he was released by San Francisco. Jackson will probably get the first opportunity to win the job over Colbert. He is a good fit for Shanahan's offense and the coach likes veterans. Jackson had a poor season in San Francisco last year, but Denver hopes he can regain the form he had in Seattle for several years. Even though he is 29, the Broncos are ready to give Jackson a chance. Still, Colbert, 26, will be given the chance to beat him out. However, Colbert's production has slid during his four NFL seasons in Carolina. So Colbert will have to prove he can keep up with Jackson.

Intensity index: Mild.