After watching the 12th practice of the Denver Broncos’ training camp, there are three players who impressed me and could surprisingly make the roster come cut day. Every year, players come out of nowhere to make an NFL team, and the Broncos are not immune to this phenomenon.
There could be three surprise players this season on the defensive side of the ball. The Broncos have quite a battle on the defensive line and at tight end. Let’s get to the three players from those groups who could make the roster when the club announces its initial 53-man roster.
Jonathan Harris | DL
The defensive line starters are almost done with Dre’Mont Jones, DJ Jones and DeShawn Williams. The depth positions in the rotation are not set and there is quite a battle going on in camp to earn those backup roles.
Harris ran with the first-team defense early and often in Tuesday’s scrimmages, making plays when he did. He showed the ability to hold his position against the run and could penetrate against the pass.
On one play against the second-team offense, Harris executed a great swim move to quickly get into the backfield and pull quarterback Josh Johnson out of the pocket. He might have been heard in a real game. It won’t be a surprise if Harris is the first linebacker off the bench in the defensive line rotation on Sunday.
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Marquis Spencer | DL
A seventh-round pick in the 2021 draft, Spencer made the practice squad last season. He was called up in Week 17 and saw little playing time on defense, but is pushing for a lot more this offseason.
Spencer flashed several times during the team’s practices and looks like he can handle the increased load in the defensive line rotation. In one replay, he and Baron Browning blew up a play during 11-on-11.
Spencer also had a better scrimmage performance than McTelvin Agim and could very well make the third-round pick indispensable on August 30. Agim looked a bit slow at times and although he made some good plays, he wasn’t as impressive as one would think for a player fighting for the last spot on the roster.
Spencer wasn’t flawless in practice either, as he was indeed knocked to the ground in one scrimmage. He will experience similar games as he grows, but overall he was a player that surprised me.
Jonathan Kongbo | OLB
The top four edges are Bradley Chubb, Randy Gregory (PUP list), Baron Browning and Nick Bonito. However, Gregory’s surgery added a need to keep more rushers out of the gate while he gets back into football shape.
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That extra player could very well be Kongbo. He had an interesting start to his professional football career after spending time in the Canadian Football League. His growth has been hampered by a string of injuries, but he has talent if he can stay healthy.
Kongbo was impressive, attacking all drills with much more intensity than the other players in the edge rush group, and he took the coaching well. He also looked more explosive than expected.
During team practice, Kongbo made some good plays. He showed really good use of his hands to keep an offensive lineman off his body, and on the very next play he was quickly in the backfield to disrupt the offense.
I saw Kongbo line up off the ball where he executed a fun shot to perfection. He was quick to get in the quarterback’s face to prevent an offense that could lead to a sack in a real game situation.
The other two competing for playing time at fullback, Jonathan Cooper and Christopher Allen, have seen very little practice since returning from injury. In fact, Allen wasn’t on the field for any drills, and Cooper only did some drills.
Kongbo will be the last man standing if the Broncos intend to place both players on the injured reserve list. At the very least, the Broncos can try to get Kongbo on the practice squad.
The preseason will tell the story of how much progress these three players have made. Pay special attention to them over the next three weeks.
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