The Broncos released their first depth chart of the season this morning, but at some positions it doesn’t necessarily reflect the way they’ve been practicing.
A depth chart is required the week of the first preseason game and the Broncos play at Chicago on Thursday night.
With most of the starters set, the most interesting choices are on the second team. For example, Caleb Hanie is listed as Peyton Manning’s backup at quarterback, with rookie Brock Osweiler listed as third string and Adam Weber fourth. But during the first 10 days of training camp, Hanie and Osweiler have been splitting second-team reps, with Osweiler seeming to get the better of the comparison in the early going.
At Saturday’s summer scrimmage, Osweiler was the fourth quarterback in, but that may have been a nod to his rookie status. Asked about the order afterward, coach John Fox said they were 2a, 2b and 2c — in other words, he’s keeping an open mind until he gets to see them in preseason game action.
Similarly, rookie Ronnie Hillman is listed as third string at running back, behind Willis McGahee and Lance Ball. Hillman, a third-round draft pick out of San Diego State, is likely to be the No. 2 running back as soon as he gets healthy (hamstring).
More significant is Knowshon Moreno, a first-round pick (12th overall) in 2009 by former coach Josh McDaniels, being listed as fourth string. Moreno does not appear fully recovered from the torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered last November. He might be eligible for the injured list exemption approved as part of the new collective bargaining agreement — one player can return from the list during the season — but he would have to be on the 53-man roster in Week 1.
Other rookies who appear to be listed lower on the depth chart than they’ve been practicing include center Philip Blake, who has shared second-team snaps with C.J. Davis; defensive lineman Derek Wolfe, who has shared first-team snaps at left defensive end with Jason Hunter; and linebacker Jerry Franklin, who has shared second team snaps at strong-side linebacker with Nate Irving.
A year ago, in the first depth chart of 2011, Irving was listed at middle linebacker and fellow 2011 draft pick Mike Mohamed at strong-side linebacker. In the first depth chart of 2012, those positions are reversed. Mohamed is now listed as Joe Mays’ backup at middle backer.
The signing of veteran Keith Brooking on Monday may affect the chart here. A five-time Pro Bowl selection, Brooking is 36.
Robert Ayers, like Moreno a first-round pick in 2009, was demoted from starting left defensive end at the end of last season to second-team right defensive end, behind Elvis Dumervil.
The weak-side linebackers are also listed too low on the depth chart because D.J. Williams is listed as the starter, even though he’ll miss at least the first six games of the season for failing a league drug test. Wesley Woodyard, listed as second team, and sixth-round draft pick Danny Trevathan, listed third, have both gotten work with there with the first team in practice.
Veteran Mike Adams is listed as the second-string strong safety, although he was getting as many reps as nominal starter Quinton Carter before Carter injured his knee and has gotten nearly all of them since.
The top four cornerbacks are listed accurately — Champ Bailey and Tracy Porter with the first team; Drayton Florence and Chris Harris with the second. Rookie Omar Bolden and veteran Tony Carter are listed with the third team, which means returning 2010 draft pick Syd’Quan Thompson may have to win the punt returner competition to make the squad.