ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos record-breaking training camp is over, and not a moment too soon — even for the 42,000-plus fans who showed up to get a look at a team they hope can make a run at Super Bowl XLVII.
Staying healthy will be a big focus for this year’s Broncos, and over the final week of training camp, that proved to be a difficult task. Denver lost starting offensive lineman Chris Kuper for at least six weeks with a broken arm Tuesday. The team also lost starting defensive lineman Jason Hunter — likely for the season — to a torn triceps muscle the same day.
On Friday, head coach John Fox was answering questions about health issues being experience by to two more high-profile Broncos: running back Ronnie Hillman and cornerback Tracy Porter. Fox called both players “game-time decisions” for Saturday’s preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks.
Porter’s health issues are the more recent of the two. The free agent corner the Broncos acquired from the New Orleans Saints is expected to start along with Champ Bailey, but he has been held out of practice several days this week with an illness.
Hillman has been hampered by a hamstring injury for the majority of camp. But when he’s been on the field, the rookie third-round draft pick has impressed his new head coach.
“I’ve liked him (Hillman),” Fox said. “Every time he’s been out there, he’s flashed. Whatever we deem is going to be the best for him and for us, we’ll move forward with that decision.”
Thankfully for the Broncos, Peyton Manning’s surgically repaired neck hasn’t given him an abundance of difficulty this training camp. The team’s new quarterback may play into the second quarter this Saturday after seeing just one series in the team’s 31-3 win over Chicago in last week’s preseason opener.
But there may be more eyes focused on what happens after Manning takes a seat.
With the consistently solid play of rookie second-round draft pick Brock Osweiler and second-year quarterback Adam Weber, Caleb Hanie, the former Chicago Bear with playoff experience who the Broncos signed this offseason, has come under scrutiny. The Broncos will likely have to cut one of the three quarterbacks, as all have performed too well to get stashed on the practice squad.
When asked for his take on the battle to back up Manning, Fox simply said he hopes to see “improvement” from all three quarterbacks on Saturday.
“Just like everybody else, we try to improve game-to-game, practice-to-practice,” Fox said. “We’re looking for everybody to get better.”