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Packers Preseason Opponent Review: Broncos’ pass rush has questions without Ware

Can Shane Ray take over for the retired DeMarcus Ware? That may be a key for the Broncos’ 2017 season.

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Once again, we take a look ahead to the Green Bay Packers’ next preseason opponent to see what intriguing storylines emerged from the offseason. Today we examine the Denver Broncos, who will host the Packers on Saturday evening in the teams’ third preseason game.

Denver has questions at a few of the most critical positions on the football field: quarterback and pass-rusher. They appear to have settled on the players who will provide those answers, but the final result is very much still in question.

Here’s a look at the Broncos’ offseason from the folks at Mile High Report, SB Nation’s Broncos blog, who sent in these responses at the start of training camp.

Denver Broncos

Notable free agent additions: Ronald Leary, Jamaal Charles, Menelik Watson, Domata Peko

Notable free agent departures: DeMarcus Ware, Russell Okung, Sylvester Williams, Kayvon Webster


1) Traded RB Kapri Bibbs and a 2017 fifth-round pick (No. 177) to San Francisco in exchange for a 2018 fourth-round pick

2) Traded a 2017 fourth-round pick (No. 126) and a 2017 seventh-round pick (No. 252) to Cleveland for two 2017 fifth-round picks (No. 145, No. 175)

3) Traded a 2017 fifth-round pick (No. 175) and a seventh-round pick (No. 238) to Green Bay for a 2017 fifth-round pick (No. 172)

Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies: Garett Bolles, DeMarcus Walker, Carlos Henderson, & possibly Jake Butt & Isaiah McKenzie

Biggest offseason addition: Mike McCoy. Ronald Leary is probably tops among players added, but McCoy, his offense, and his ability to help the QBs develop are arguably the single biggest change that carries the potential to heavily impact the quality of the Broncos' season.

Biggest storyline heading into training camp: The quarterback battle, Siemian vs Lynch 2.0, will dominate the discussion with ease. The fanbase is already rather sharply divided, and it has the makings of a competitive camp battle at football's most important position. Somewhat greater experience and sample size will compete against greater physical talent & the pressure to start a former 1st round pick. (APC note: the Broncos announced this week that they plan to move forward with Trevor Siemian as the starting quarterback.)

Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp: Can Shane Ray adequately fulfill DeMarcus Ware's role across from Von Miller? There's evidence from 2016 that he can, and that he has the potential to be a Pro Bowl edge rusher. But he's got to actually do it. And if he can't, then a lopsided pass rush could tip a whole line of dominoes starting with more double and triple teams vs Miller, more time for QBs to throw, and greater demands put on the secondary. If the Broncos' historic pass defense is going to regress this season, failures across the line from Miller might be the most likely culprit.

Notable injuries heading into training camp: Matt Paradis: The Broncos' best offensive lineman is coming back from two offseason hip surgeries. Can he get healthy enough and strong enough to play well by the time the season begins? Jake Butt: The 5th round rookie TE has a ton of potential, but how quickly will he return from a torn ACL?