Shanny readies for practice
My first practice and my goal was to take in as much as possible. It was great to see the Orange and Blue close up and get a real feel for just how fast, how big, and how powerful alot of these men are. I have read through the comments and will try and touch on as much as possible. I focused on the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills, wanting to see how the team looked when simulating game action. As the week/weekend moves on I will focus on different parts.
There is hope, with the off-day following on Sunday, that the team may go full-pads on Saturday morning. I certainly hope that is the case.
Here are some of my musings, in no real order....
The following players did not dress this morning -- FB Peyton Hillis(Hammy), TE Chad Mustard(Hammy), C Tom Nalen(Knee), RB Michael Pittman(Hammy). The team is sending Nalen to have a MRI on his knee. Shanny stated it was simply "to have it checked out" and the team doesn't feel it is anything serious. I saw Nalen walking around the practice field and he was definitely feelin' it. Surely playing in the NFL as long as Nalen has will slow down your stroll so we'll wait and see.
There was a comment about the lack of crowds so far at practice and whether that was a sign of apathy, or simply an indictment of the economy(gas and such). There was no sign of it today as the workout enjoyed the largest crowd to date(1238). The group seemed energetic as well, ohh'ing and ahhh'ing at every big play and hit. I know it was suggested that I talk to some of the fans, and I will try to do that.
In general, the practice was upbeat, energetic and featured a lot of physicality. That may have been the reason that Shanny ended the practice early. It was a crisp session, with the team moving from one drill to the next with a sense of urgency I was looking for. There didn't seem to be any hangover from the Lynch situation. With Lynch gone, Marlon McCree and Hamza Abdullah were starting at Safety.
The first thing that became apparent to me was the size and speed combination of RB Ryan Torain. Showing absolutely no effects of the foot injury he suffered last season in college, Torain runs with alot of power and looks alot bigger than 6-1, 225 he's listed. He does seem to run standing up a bit which will lead to alot of contact, but Torain seems to enjoy it and rarely, if at all, doesn't fall forward. One thing Torain will need to work on from what I saw was his timing into the hole. He had a tendency to make his move in the backfield instead of the line of scrimmage and defenses in the NFL are just too damn faast for that. I am eager to see Torain go when the lights go on.
It was an up and down workout for Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall. Cutler missed on a couple of easy chances, but that is to be expected during Training Camp. What was clear is the positive effect being completely healthy. His throws are electric and he is able to put it anywhere he wants. Marshall still looks to be a bit out of wind, but as the workout went on he seemed to get into rhythm. I still get the sense that all the business with the League is wearing on him a bit. I don't blame him. The Favre situation has seemingly halted all other business at the League and Marshall, as well as the Broncos, are forced to deal with it.
One area that I see a drastic improvement when it comes to #15 is his blocking, especially in the red zone/short yardage. On a few occasions, Marshall was able to seal off the edge allowing for Broncos touchdowns. Marshall is definitely big enough and strong enough to dominate in the run game and it looks like he is going to put the effort out there to do it.
Another positive for all of you Selvin Young fans is how much harder Young is running inside the 10. If there was one beef I had with young in 2007 it was his lack of yards in the Red Zone. If Young is going to be the back many of you think he is going to be that is one area that will need to improve. If Torain continues to play the way he is, it may not matter because he'll have earned the reps.
The more I see of Patrick Ramsey the less I like. I know he has the rocket arm but he just doesn't seem confident in the pocket, even during 7 X 7 drills. The final pass of the morning session was a nice out rout to Keary Colbert that Dre Bly should have intercepted. Ramsey's pass was late severely underthrown. I know, the Broncos could do worse at backup quarterback, but they could do alot better and if they are going to take that next step they need to have confidence that the backup QB can come in and win a game or two come gameday.
TE Brett Pierce had the catch of the day, making a diving catch on a seam route with Boss Bailey draped all over him. The pass looked exactly like the the 4th down play against the Jaguars last season that Daniel Graham dropped. Cutler put the ball right on the money and Pierce made the catch. I know Pierce will likely not make the team, but he has looked solid in the absence of Chad Mustard.
Domonique Foxworth might be the story of camp so far. There is no way Foxy can't be pushing Dre Bly for the starting CB spot alongside Champ Bailey. Also impressive is rookie Jack Williams. Fast forward to 2009, and I could see Bailey and Foxy at corner with Jack Williams as the nickel back. Just remember where you heard it.
One play I saw during 11 X 11 drills was the proto-typical reason Jamie Winborn has been on 4 teams in a very short time. Selving Young caught a short pass from Cutler, right in front of Winborn. Winborn over-pursued the play, allowing Young to cut back and pick up big yardage. A 5-8 yard play became a 20 yard play. Winborn is great on special teams, but he fundamental linebacker skills are still a work in progress.
Anthony Alridge is fun to watch, especially in space. He moves fluidly running with the football. I really didn't see a situation where Alridge was running the ball inside, but out in the open he looks good.
One player that was impressing me in early drills was QB Darrell Hackney. His footwork is solid and he plays with a certain confidence I like in a QB. He struggles, however, when the team is engaged in full-team drills. He is still fundamentally sound, but his lack of height definitely becomes a factor. It is a struggle for Hackney to stand in the pocket, and it seems to me the only way he'll be effective from the pocket is to try and roll out or bootleg.
TE Tony Scheffler looks healthy and Cutler is looking for him. The two connected on several plays, inclding a nice side-line grab that drew the applause of the crowd. If Brandon Marshall does get suspended for 4 games, which is the feeling around these parts, a healthy Scheff can help ease the blow.
Another rookie that is impressing me is S Josh Barrett. Barrett, like Torain, seems alot bigger than he really is, and let me tell ya, he closes in space FAST! There were several passes that appeared to be easy completions that Barrett was able to get to and break up. That is what playing safety in today's NFL is all about. This kid has a solid future.
I wanted some tempers to flair and I got it. On a play late in the session OL Ryan Harris and DL Kenny Peterson had to be seperated after some pushing, shoving and yelling. Nothing major, but I love to see the passion at camp.
That's that! A great morning to be at practice. Obviously, the complex is a bit of a circus because of the Lynch situation. He is scheduled to address the media at 3:30 mst, followed by the coach. I've got it all covered for ya. Go ahead, fire away with your questions and comments!