Five players with something to prove at Denver Broncos OTAs

May 24, 2023, 6:36 PM

Russell Wilson...

(Photo by Andrew Mason /

(Photo by Andrew Mason /

Phase 3 of Broncos organized team activities began Tuesday. But it’s Thursday morning that will bring the first glimpse for Denver-area media at the Sean Payton-led Broncos.

Per NFL rules established in conjunction with the Pro Football Writers of America, each team must open one day per week of Phase 3 to media who regularly cover the team. Given Payton’s preference for his team to be “anonymous donors” and to go about their offseason work in the shadows, far from the spotlight, one surmises that he’d just as soon keep the doors padlocked and the cameras — even those from the team’s own robust internal media operation — away.

But the bylaws dictate otherwise.

So, the smartphones and cameras will be out for individual periods. Pens and notepads will find good use. Some onlookers will brandish binoculars for a better view.

Through those lenses, a few players will warrant close scrutiny.


Could it be anyone else? While the Broncos’ quarterback room isn’t the site of one of the summer’s most prominent competitions, Wilson’s adaptation to Payton — both in terms of coaching style and scheme — should be one of the most fascinating storylines to monitor. It’s a change from last year’s happy-go-lucky, good-vibes offseason, but Wilson appears to be ready for it.


Mathis’ growth last year was one of the bright spots in a dim campaign. He learned from a penalty-flooded first start at Los Angeles in Week 6 and became one of the league’s steadiest rookies within weeks. His progress helped make injured CB Ronald Darby expendable; the Broncos released Darby in March to create salary-cap space.

But into the room steps third-round pick Riley Moss. His first work is expected to be at cornerback. Mathis didn’t need a push, but Moss should provide it nonetheless.

The Broncos have high hopes for Moss, evidenced by their willingness to sacrifice a third-round pick next year to move up 25 spots and select him this year. But if Mathis continues on the ascendant trajectory of last year, don’t expect Moss to dislodge him anytime soon.


With an ACL injury nine months in the rear-view mirror, one will want to gauge his progress. Given that he only had the single ligament tear, he should be well ahead of RB Javonte Williams in his recovery. Williams’ injury also came nearly two months after Patrick, putting both not only in different rehabilitation protocols, but on divergent timelines.

The Broncos don’t want to rush Patrick. But at the same time, Wilson needs Patrick’s steady hands. And the team as a whole needs the energy and feistiness with which he attacks his work.


Rotator-cuff surgery shortly after he signed with the Broncos last March augured a first Denver year defined by injuries and rehab work. He wasn’t ready for the start of training camp — but did recover in time to play the regular-season opener, albeit in a rotational role. But by Week 4, he was injured again, this time undergoing arthroscopic surgery to trim the meniscus in his knee. He returned for two games and 34 snaps later in the season.

So far, so good for Gregory.

“Randy is doing well,” Payton said earlier this month.

The offseason is one thing, the regular season can be another. But if Gregory can earn the new coaching staff’s trust, they’ll find ways to capitalize on his length and speed.


Whether it’s the backup or the starter, it all begins with the quarterback. And Payton eschewed other more experienced options to add Stidham has Wilson’s understudy, citing the former Auburn passer’s upside.

“I think he’s a No. 2 whose arrow is moving in a direction where we feel like he can become an NFL starter in our league,” Payton said in March. “The evaluation was pretty crystal clear for all of us. I think he’s someone that’s going to be great in the room. He’s smart. Quietly, that was an important [signing] for us.”

It will be a while before we know how important. But solid work now could add some spice — and, at minimum, give the Broncos a better understudy at QB than last year.



Denver Broncos kicking competition Elliott Fry...

Andrew Mason

Sean Payton has a kicking competition — even though he has just one kicker on the Broncos roster

Elliott Fry will get the first crack, but Sean Payton's history shows that the Broncos' kicking solution could come from elsewhere.

1 day ago

Nick Williams...

Andrew Mason

Broncos bring in ex-Cherry Creek standout at wide receiver

The Broncos added another big-bodied wide receiver, signing former Cherry Creek and CSU-Pueblo standout Nick Williams.

1 day ago

Greg Dulcich...

Cecil Lammey

Orange and Blue Today – June 5th 2023

In This Episode: Cecil Lammey and Andrew Mason discuss the latest news and notes for the Denver Broncos. Topics Include: why TE Greg Dulcich may not be the only joker for the offense, is HC Sean Payton softening his stance on the Denver media, plus more! Follow @CecilLammey

1 day ago

Terrell Davis...

Will Petersen

Broncos legend Terrell Davis was sad like all of us about the Nuggets

Two Heat fans Davis was sitting next to decided to high five another Miami fan right in front of the former Super Bowl MVP

1 day ago

Greg Dulcich...

Cecil Lammey

The hype around Broncos tight end Greg Dulcich is premature

After it was learned that Denver's second-year tight end would play the "joker" position, the internet incorrectly went wild

1 day ago

Russell Wilson...

Zach Lazarus

Can Russell Wilson become a top-five QB in Broncos history?

Denver has a rich and storied history, led by two Hall of Fame quarterbacks, but they need their current QB to revitalize the franchise

3 days ago

Five players with something to prove at Denver Broncos OTAs