CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- The rearview mirror serves no purpose at this point. The Broncos can only look forward after an offseason overhaul following one of the most disappointing campaigns in franchise history.
General manager John Elway went to work retooling a roster that underperformed and failed to show customary toughness. The critical move took place at the most important position: quarterback. When starting to eye reasons for optimism, it starts with veteran Case Keenum.
"The confidence that he brings is going to be tremendous at that position," Elway said at the annual media luncheon on the eve of training camp.
How will that translate to the standings? Unlike in years past, Elway tempered expectations. He wants improvement, but declined to "put a number on it." The temptation remained real as Elway continued to answer questions as he allowed that "I don't see any reason we can't compete for the playoffs."
Elway remains bullish on his rookie class to help caffeinate a team that dropped eight straight games last season, won a single road contest and "was not competitive" at times. It begins with outside linebacker Bradley Chubb and extends to receivers Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton.
"We believe Bradley will be a very good player for a long time," Elway said. "But I am not expecting them to come in and be all-pros right away. It takes time."
The Broncos plan to lean on a physical offense built on a strong running game. Elway is not worried if one back emerges, believing several could be needed. He hit on a number of points in his presser:
--On backup QB: He expects good competition between Paxton Lynch and Chad Kelly for the two and three spots. He's focused on "if something were to happen that we have a guy that can come in and win football games." He insisted key with Lynch is "staying healthy."
--On special teams: "We believe we can win some games there, not lose them."
--Elway said he expects coach Vance Joseph to learn from experience and "take the reins" in year two. Changing the coaching staff, with coaches who will challenge players, was designed to help. And Joseph can lean on Gary Kubiak as "sounding board" as well, Elway said.
--Receiver Jordan Taylor (hip) will begin season on PUP list. Shane Ray will not be on the list after avoiding fourth surgery on left wrist. The team recommended surgery.
--The Broncos want to run the ball. Going into camp it looks like this on the revamped offensive line: left tackle Garett Bolles, left guard Ron Leary, center Matt Paradis, right guard competition between Connor McGovern and Max Garcia, left tackle Jared Veldheer (with Billy Turner as backup).
Coach Vance Joseph spoke after Elway. He showed no interest in discussing the past, but it was impossible to ignore. Joseph sees Keenum as key to a revival.
"It's given us clarity," Joseph said. "We know who our quarterback is going to be." That is clearly the biggest difference between this camp and last year, in my opinion. Or, frankly, the last two camps.
Joseph summed up the mood on the season thusly.
"Last year motivated all of us to get better. We were 3-1... we were 4-0 in preseason and all of a sudden the floor fell out," Joseph said. "We have been humbled and we are hungry."