With the Ravens set to take on Denver to kick off the NFL season, we asked David East at Mile High Report five questions on the Broncos.
Here's what he had to say:
Baltimore Beatdown: Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker were a tough duo a year ago. What has Wes Welker's addition meant to them in terms the looks they get? Does either receiver now get fewer touches or will Peyton Manning's attempts rise to get all three receivers the ball plenty of times?
David East: It's really hard to say which player will get fewer looks. Honestly, I think the guys who will lose out are the running backs. If I had to put a name on it though, I'd say Decker, because Demaryius Thomas is poised to have a huge year and Wes Welker is Wes Welker. With that being said, Decker has always been a huge threat in the red zone.
BB: From an outsider's viewpoint, it would seem that Shaun Phillips gets the nod instead of Von Miller. What can the Ravens expect from a Broncos defense with Phillips getting most of the reps and Miller sitting out due to suspension?
DE: It won't really just be one guy who replaces Von. In passing situations, you can bet on Shaun Phillips being out there, but Nate Irving has also played several reps at SAM and will get a couple snaps here and there. Jack Del Rio is a creative defensive coordinator, so he won't just rely on one backup to do the job.
BB: Do you expect Champ Bailey to be ready by Thursday? If so, how does he impact the Broncos on defense as a 15-year veteran? -- (UPDATE: Bailey has been ruled out for this game.)
DE: You can never really count Champ out. He's already out of the boot and back at practice, so I'd say he's likely to play. Champ didn't have the best first half against the Ravens last year, but it doesn't mean his status as an elite corner is over. Champ will have a great season, but he won't be the shutdown corner he's been in the past. Quarterbacks are going to test him more than they have in the past. Now, Champ will get burned more than you're used to seeing, but he'll come out on top more often than not.
BB: Even though Ronnie Hillman was named the starter, how much do you expect Montee Ball and Knowshon Moreno to play? Could it be a true running back by committee approach until one establishes himself over the others?
DE: It's really hard to tell what they're going to do with that backfield. I honestly think that it will be Montee Ball's job by the end of the season. However, each situation will warrant a different back. When the game is on the line and the Broncos need to run the clock out, I wouldn't be surprised to see Knowshon Moreno out there. When it's a short yard situation on the goal line, Montee Ball is your man.
BB: How has the offensive line dealt with the injuries that affected the unit throughout the preseason?
DE: It hasn't been easy, but thankfully Ryan Clady and Chris Kuper have become healthy. Manny Ramirez wasn't my favorite person at times last year, but he should be adequate enough to scrape by. It may not be pretty at times, but this unit should be capable enough to do their job.
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