We don't know if there will be a National Football League season this fall, but Denver's receivers are working hard and preparing as if there will be one.
Here's a look at the Broncos current situation at the wide receiver position.
Name/College: Britt Davis, Northern Illinois
Height/Weight: 6'3, 205 pounds
Quick Stats/Experience: Appeared in three games for Denver in 2010 and recorded four solo tackles on special teams. Twenty-four years old, Davis is entering his third season in the league.
Briefly: Davis entering the NFL as a college free agent with the New York Jets in 2009. The following season he joined the Broncos' practice squad.
In week fourteen, he was signed to the active roster and appeared in the team's final three games of the season. Davis did not record any offensive statistics but did contribute on special teams. Spending a lot of time with Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow this offseason, Davis has been working hard and has attended many of the team's unofficial workouts. He may push fellow young receiver Matt Willis for a roster spot on game days.
Name/College: Eric Decker, Minnesota
Quick Stats/Experience: As a rookie in 2010, Decker's seven special teams tackles complemented his six catches for 106 yards (17.7 YPC average) and one score on offense. The twenty-four year old is entering his second season in the league.
Briefly: Drafted by Denver in the third round (87th overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft, Decker only only dropped 3 of the 354 passes thrown his way during his collegiate career. He missed the team's OTA's and Rookie Mini Camps because of a lingering foot injury but was recovered in time for pre season, in which he led all rookie receivers in receptions.
Because the Broncos have a talented veteran group of receivers, Decker didn't see much time on offense as a rookie until later in the season. Decker was, however, extremely productive on special teams recording seven tackles and returning 17 kickoffs for 429 yards (giving him an excellent 25.2 yards-per-return average). Decker finished the season with half a dozen catches and over 100 yards receiving, and his role in the offense is expected to increase dramatically in 2011.
Name/College: Jabar Gaffney, Florida.
Height/Weight: 6-2, 200 pounds.
Quick Stats/Experience: Last season, Gaffney caught 65 passes for 857 yards (13.5 YPC) and two scores. Thirty years old, he is entering his tenth season in the league.
Briefly: Drafted by the Houston Texans in the second round (33rd overall) of the 2002 NFL Draft, Gaffney would go on to have a successful stint in New England before finally joining the Broncos in 2009 as an unrestricted free agent. In 2010, Gaffney set career highs in nearly every receiving category and helped the Broncos' passing offense rank seventh in the league. A reliable target, Gaffney should post similar numbers next season.
Name/College: Brandon Lloyd, Illinois.
Height/Weight: 6-0, 194 pounds.
Quick Stats/Experience: Led the NFL in receiving yards in 2010 with 1,448, caught a career high 77 passes, and scored 11 touchdowns, earning him his first ever Pro Bowl selection. Twenty-nine years old, Lloyd is entering his ninth season in the league.
Briefly: Lloyd's story has been well documented; he bounced around from three teams in six seasons while doing little more than some acrobatic catches here and there before joining Denver in 2009 as a free agent. Lloyd rarely saw the field his first year in Denver, but took advantage of his opportunities. Playing in two games, Lloyd caught 8 passes that went for 117 yards. Heading into 2010, nobody could have foreseen the season Lloyd was about to have. Lloyd led many receiving categories in 2010 including the best first-down-per-catch average (93.5%). Proving to be a receiver that protects the football, Lloyd owned the 8th best drop percentage (4.94%) in the NFL and didn't fumble once. He'll look to have another stellar year in 2011 and make his second Pro Bowl appearance, but defenses will have his number.
Name/College: Eron Riley, Duke.
Height/Weight: 6-3, 210 pounds.
Quick Stats/Experience: Twenty-three years old, Riley did not appear in any games last year and is entering his second season in the league.
Briefly: An undrafted free agent in 2009, Riley spent the entire 2009 season on Baltimore's practice squad before joining Carolina's in 2010. Riley signed to Denver's practice squad in 2010.
Name/College: Eddie Royal, Virginia Tech.
Height/Weight: 5-10, 180 pounds.
Quick Stats/Experience: In his third season, 25-year old Royal caught 59 passes for 627 yards and three touchdowns while maintaining his incredible 3.28% drop percentage which ranked fifth among all 2010 receivers who caught 50 or more passes. Royal is entering his fifth season in the league.
Briefly: Since entering the the NFL in 2008 after being drafted by the Broncos in the second round (42nd overall), Royal has posted over 2,000 yards from scrimmage and over 1,400 return yards, joining San Diego's Darren Sproles as the only two players in the NFL to have done so in that time period.
As a rookie, Royal instantly became a fan favorite after exploding on the scene with a huge rookie season, which displayed his unselfish style of play. Royal's numbers dropped in year two however, as Josh McDaniels seemingly removed him from the offense. However, he did return two kicks for scores in 2009. Last season, Royal got back on track, catching over 50 passes going for more than 500 yards while recording over 400 yards on returns and producing 3 tackles. Royal is recovering well from offseason hip surgery and is anxious to get back on the field in 2011; he could be a big sleeper to watch for.
Name/College: Demaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech.
Height/Weight: 6-3, 229 pounds.
Quick Stats/Experience: A twenty-three year old freakish athlete, Thomas played in ten games as a rookie in 2010 catching 22 passes for 283 yards (12.9 YPC) and two scores. He is entering his second season in the league.
Briefly: Drafted by Denver in the first round (22nd overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft, Thomas has indescribable amounts of potential and made several big plays for the Broncos in 2010 despite being hampered by injuries. Thomas started in two games last season and made big plays in both, with his best performance coming in his rookie debut against Seattle when he caught 8 passes for 97 yards and a score. Thomas also contributed on special teams, recording five tackles and returning 16 kickoffs for 398 yards (24.9 YPR). Recovering from a torn Achilles, Thomas is expected to miss at least half of the 2011 season. When he returns however, and if he can stay healthy, he could become a big playmaker in Denver's offense.
Name/Colloege: Matthew Willis, UCLA.
Heigh/Weight: 6-0, 190 pounds.
Quick Stats/Experience: Twenty-seven years old, Willis appeared in six games last season before suffering a broken foot and being placed on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. Before his injury, Willis recorded one special teams tackle and caught a pass that went for seventeen yards.
Briefly: Having entered the league through Denver's practice squad in 2008, Willis bounced on and off the Broncos' squad through 2009 before being activated for the season finale. Heading into 2010, Willis was poised to have a big year after an incredible Training Camp and fantastic preseason in which he tied for fifth in receptions and and placed second in receiving yards (with 263 yards). Then-rookie quarterback Tim Tebow developed a great connection with Willis, who appeared to be his favorite target. Willis' injury prevented him from seeing the field much last season, but he has been working hard this offseason (most recently working out at the team's unofficial workouts and throwing with quarterback Brady Quinn) and should see more playing time on offense in 2011.
Join us next time as we look at Denver's tight ends and 'Like' us on facebook today!