GREELEY, Colo. -- Youth will be served in the Denver Broncos' training camp that opens Sunday.
With the departure of veterans Rick Upchurch, Randy Gradishar, Tom Glassic, Steve DeBerg and Don Latimer, Coach Dan Reeves has his hands full filling holes.
He is calling the process, which will begin when rookies and free agents report Sunday, a 'transition,' and he anticipates the team's development of young players will go a long way to determine whether the Broncos return to the playoffs this fall.
'You always have changes, but they don't usually seem to be the Gradishars and the Glassics and the Upchurches and the DeBergs, and the guys who've been your starters. Those are big changes,' Reeves said on the eve of his fourth training camp with the team.
Draft choices and young free agents particularly attractive to the coaches are defensive right end Andre Townsend, free safety Tony Lilly, safety Randy Robbins, linebacker Aaron Smith, nose guard Scott Garnett, kicker Rocky Costello and wide receiver Ray Alexander.
They will be among the group that begins workouts Monday morning.
The veteran quarterbacks, wide receivers, running backs and centers are next to report on July 15. Three days later, the entire squad is expected.
The new faces are not all young men out of college. Trades have brought to the Broncos four players who are expected to help immediately.
They are wide receiver Dave Logan, the former University of Colorado all-America; linebacker Stan Blinka; quarterback Scott Brunner; and tight end Eason Ramson. Those four have a combined 27 years experience.
Younger players may have an easier time this spring because of the grueling test Reeves imposes on his players.
'Now these guys can come in and have an opportunity to start, and they've got to be excited about it. It'll really surprise me if we don't play with a lot of spark because of that,' Reeves said.
Some younger players will be tried at new positions. For instance, second-year pro Karl Mecklenburg, a defensive end in 1983, will play linebacker. Jerry Baker will move from offensive to defensive tackle.