As the first wave of preseason games approach, teams are releasing their depth charts. Though some can be misleading, it’s the only official (sometimes unofficial, but still the closest thing to official) configuration of players we have.
The Broncos have issued theirs, and the first 2013 depth chart sheds light on various areas of competition for the consensus favorites in the AFC West, if not the AFC entirely.
On offense, the Broncos list three starting receivers — Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Wes Welker. This approach allowed the Broncos to avoid burying Welker behind Thomas or Decker, acknowledging that Welker is the top slot receiver. (The Redskins opted to stick with two receivers, creating the false impression that Santana Moss, who is projected to be the No. 1 slot receiver, is struggling for a job on the third string.)
At running back, Ronnie Hillman has held off rookie Montee Ball, for now. Behind Ball is Knowshown Moreno.
At center, Manny Ramirez has the top job for now, with recently unretired Ryan Lilja on the fourth string, behind journeyman Steve Vallos.
On defense, first-round tackle Sylvester Williams appears behind Terrance Knighton at nose tackle.
Free-agent acquisition Shaun Phillips shows up as both the backup to right defensive end Robert Ayers, and as the No. 2 to linebacker Von Miller.
Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has won the tentative starting job across from Champ Bailey, despite a high ankle sprain. Last year’s starter, Chris Harris, backs up DRC.
At safety, Mike Adams (strong) and Rahim Moore (weak) have held off their challengers, so far. Former Chargers cornerback Quentin Jammer comes in at third behind Moore and David Bruton, which could be bad news for Jammer’s chances of making the team.
Quarterback Peyton Manning doesn’t have to worry about making the team. With a solid supporting cast, he’ll go as far as he can take them.