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A look at the opponents: Denver Broncos, Week 5

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff  July 2, 2012 07:00 AM

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Peyton Manning will look to guide the Broncos offense to new heights. (David Zalubowski / AP photo)

Five questions about the Broncos heading into training camp with Mike Klis, the beat writer from the Denver Post.

Link: http://www.denverpost.com/broncos
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mikeklis

Date: Oct. 7
Time: 4:25 p.m.
Location: Gillette Stadium
2011 record: 8-8, first place in AFC West
Playoffs: Lost divisional playoff 45-10 at New England.

1. What is going to be the strength of this team?
Peyton Manning, quarterback. He’ll run the no-huddle in altitude. Pretty good offensive line that is young (Ryan Clady, Zane Beadles, JD Walton, Chris Kuper, Orlando Franklin). Real good kicker (Matt Prater) and punter (Britton Colquitt). Pass rushers Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil. Improved secondary with additions of cornerbacks Tracy Porter and Drayton Florence and safety Mike Adams. The Josh-New England offense is still being used. And they even added two tight ends _ Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme. Lot of 2 tight end, pass-catching sets. I think John Fox is a pretty good head coach.

2. Where are they looking to get better?
They have to prove they can succeed with conventional running game. They were No. 1 in rushing last year but that was all Tebow. Linebackers are problem with DJ Williams starting with 6-game suspension. Joe Mays not an elite MLB, although the Saints and Colts both tried to sign him in free agency.

3. Players on the spot?
Manning of course. Defensive tackle Ty Warren. Former Patriot hasn’t played in two years. They want him to start alongside rookie Derek Wolfe, a second-round pick from Cincy. Second-year safety Rahim Moore had rough rookie year.

4. What needs to happen for this team to win big?
Manning and No. 1 receiver Demaryius Thomas have to stay healthy. Thomas a beast when healthy but he’s been oft-injured his first 2 years.

5. Realistic expectations for this team at this point?
Given it’s rough schedule, especially early (networks wanted Manning early so that meant tough opponents early _ 1. Steelers, 2. at Atlanta, 3. Houston; 4. Raiders; 5. at NE; 6. at San Diego; 7. bye; 8. New Orleans; 9. at Cincy; 10. At Cam and Carolina), and Manning needing to shake off a year of rust, I don’t see team doing better than 9-7. Most people around here think 10-6, 11-5 and 12-4. All optimism based on Manning. Something about 4 neck surgeries, 36 years old, missed season tells me Broncos won’t see Manning at his best, at least not this year.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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