ENGLEWOOD, CO -- Even as their defense has dominated over most of the last four years, the Broncos struggled to cover running backs and tight ends. Some teams managed to exploit this soft spot, including the 2016 Atlanta Falcons, who knocked the Broncos from the unbeaten ranks with a game plan that saw Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combine for 167 receiving yards.
Last year, 15 of the 29 passing touchdowns surrendered by the Broncos were scored by running backs and tight ends. These struggles led the Broncos to trade for safety Su'a Cravens from Washington, as the Broncos hope that he can provide a matchup problem.
But Cravens is only part of the potential solution. Inside linebacker Brandon Marshall, who handles an every-down role in the defense, knew he had to improve, as well. To that end, the seven-year veteran shed 11 pounds during OTAs, dropping to 225 pounds -- 25 below his listed weight.
"I want to be able to move more efficient. I want to feel better on the field. I want to have less body fat. I could be 240, but if I've got a lot of body fat, it's going to slow me down," Marshall said during OTAs. "I want to just lose the fat and be stronger, leaner and more effective."
--A year after losing his camp duel to Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch is in a competition again -- for the No. 2 quarterback spot behind Case Keenum.
He is at a crossroad. On the one hand, he is one play away from being forced back into the lineup. On the other, he is also looking at being a washout if he cannot change the trajectory of his career.
Even though he doesn't have the pressure of fighting to be a starter, he does face pressure to show progress and hold off Chad Kelly, especially in a scheme that includes more quick reads and quick timing throws.
The advantage he has now is having an experienced veteran in front of him -- something he hasn't had since Mark Sanchez was on the team during 2016 training camp before struggling and being released after the preseason finale.
"I didn't really have an opportunity to be around somebody for a long time that had been in the league for a while," Lynch said. "So, I think it's really good and Case is a really good dude and he's a really hard worker too."
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave noted that Lynch showed improvement in OTAs.
"Down in the red (zone), Paxton continues to make good decisions, which is good," Musgrave said. "We want those decisions, those habits to become part of his fabric so they can just be natural and reactive."