QB Brock Osweiler: He's considered the Broncos QB of the future, but the team is hoping his apprenticeship behind Peyton Manning will be a lengthy one, allowing him to work out the flaws in his delivery. But Osweiler has looked more polished than expected -- particularly when the Broncos throw blitzes at him. He was expected to be the No. 3 quarterback this year when camp began, but steadiness along with the struggles of the other backups could make him the favorite to be the second-string quarterback.
LB Danny Trevathan: No rookie has seen more snaps with the first team than the Broncos' final 2012 pick. Trevathan worked with the first team in the nickel package during minicamp and has kept that role during training camp; the Broncos even threw a few first-team repetitions in the base defense at him Monday. He was the SEC's leading tackler last year but saw his draft stock plunge amid questions about his 4.7 speed and a bench-press tally of 18 repetitions at the NFL Combine. So far in camp, he has played faster and stronger than those numbers would indicate.
DT Mitch Unrein: Unheralded as a rotational player during the 14 games he played last year, Unrein has worked with the first team through most of camp while Justin Bannan nurses a calf injury, nudging ahead of Kevin Vickerson and Sealver Siliga for a roster spot. He's the smallest of the Broncos' DTs and acknowledges he'll need to add bulk to his 291-pound frame to be at the size that defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio prefers. But his energy has been a complement to first-teamer Ty Warren's bulk. Bannan will assume the first-team role when he heals, but Unrein looks poised for an increased role in the Broncos' DT rotation.
QB Caleb Hanie: As the only reserve quarterback with starting experience, the free-agent pickup was considered the favorite to claim the No. 2 role behind Manning. But the Broncos have rotated second-team snaps among Hanie, Osweiler and Adam Weber, with John Fox saying that the backups are "2a, 2b and 2c" on the depth chart. Hanie's accuracy has been scattershot and he and has struggled against the pass rush, which indicates that his 41.8 quarterback rating as the Bears' fill-in starter last year might not have been a mere hiccup.
LB Nate Irving: When the Broncos drafted him in the third round of the 2011 draft, they planned on him being their middle linebacker of the future. But he failed to push starter Joe Mays for the position and now finds himself stuck on the second team at strongside linebacker while fellow 2011 draft pick Mike Mohamed and undrafted rookie Steven Johnson take the second-team work at middle linebacker. Irving is still a good bet to make the final roster, since the Broncos' overall linebacking depth is compromised with the looming suspension of D.J. Williams, but they expected more by this point from Irving.
WR Matt Willis: After working for more than three years to become the No. 4 wide receiver last year, many thought he could push to be a regular part of the Broncos' four-wide receiver set this year. But there's a wide gap between Denver's top four receivers -- Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, Brandon Stokley and Andre Caldwell -- and the rest, led by Willis. If Willis makes the team, it will likely be for his work as a returner and in coverage on special teams, but he could find himself pipped for the last spot by a younger wideout such as rookie Gerell Robinson or former Arena Football League standout Greg Orton, both of whom have turned heads with their athleticism at training camp.