After spending the afternoon typing up the A.M. post, I barely have time to get back to Dove Valley. I do arrive just in time to hear the "Spirit in the Sky" drift along the air through the facility's PA system. I find a seat at the near 30 yard line this time. I see that the players have all ready taken the field and are in full pads again.
Special Teams Punt Formation is the first item on this evenings agenda. Coach Priefer goes over the blocking schemes while the punter takes the snap and air kicks. Vernon Fox is at the Upback position, calling signals.On the 3rd rep, Fox takes the snap and tosses a pass to Peyton Hillis. Priefer continues to direct traffic. I see Ryan Harris made this practice also, so he must not be dinged up too bad. Mario Haggans, Brandon Stokely, and Jabar Gaffney are out here as well. I don't see any signs of LaMont Jordan. And the HORN sounds.
the Defense departs to the far field, while the Offense lines up at the 30 yard line that is away from me. 1st team "O" vs. the "scouts." They run the ball at 1/2 speed with a few short passes throw in. Orton hits Stokely and Gaffney on a couple of medium yard passes (15-20), and then it is Simms turn. Chris sends a nice pass to Brandon Lloyd, and on his next attempt, holds the ball(Too long again, sigh!) and THEN, makes an all day completion to Jeb Putzier. He has "time" to make one more pass to Matthew Willis before the HORN blows, thus ending the misery.
We hear "Badlands" by Springsteen blaring out across the field as the players enter the stretch interval with Coach Tuten administering the "Abuse" as it were. Chris Baker cheers as a HIP-HOP tune plays when the players spread out for calisthenics. Josh McDaniels is seen shooting the Breeze with Kyle Orton. I would swear, that if he wasn't holding a whistle, the Coach could be easily mistaken for one of the ball boys. Kenny McKinley, Chad Jackson, Travis Shelton, CJ Jones, and Nate Swift exercise in front of my position, and Tom Brandstater is sporting a partially shaved head. A sure "Victim" of Rookie Hazing. I didn't notice if they ruined David Bruton's nice dreadlocks(They wouldn't, would they?). I noticed in the morning practice that Britton Colquitt and Blake Schlueter were follicular challenged as well. They make some running plays where, after the ball is snapped, all the players sprint down the field about 40 yards. The Defense definitely had the choice of music as the rest of the songs are of Hip-hop nature. HORN.
The players break up into their individual groups as the music ceases. 5 minutes later, the HORN sounds again. A Heavy Tackling Bag is set directly in front of me on the 30 yard line and "Gunner" practice starts. Each player practices shedding a blocker and hitting the "Dummy." David Bruton fiercely attacks the dummy while Jack MF Williams and Josh Barrett nearly annihilate the poor thing. Kenny McKinley hits the Bag with enthusiasm also. HORN.
Passing drill with the Backs and Receivers are in 5 man sets. The drill goes well as Josh pays close attention, calling out play patterns. Chris Simms zips a nice 30 yard pass to Gaffney and the HORN blows. They go on to 7 on 7drills. Lonie Paxton is snapping to Orton in the Shotgun. Kyle hits Stokely in stride on a crossing pattern and then again on a sideline out. Simms makes a pass to Stokely that is nearly picked off by the "scout" LB as he continues with his love affair with the ball. Tony Carter picks off Orton deftly stepping in front of Stokely. Simms comes in and rifles a deep middle pass to Jeb Putzier.(It is starting to look like Ol' Jeb might land a spot on the 53 man squad,
unless he is merely practicing for the S.F. game) Brandon Lloyd makes high grab over the middle(I KNOW!) on a throw from Simms.HORN.
Darcel McBath breaks up a pass over the middle and coach yells "Fumble" and Renaldo Hill is there to pick it up. Nate Swift makes a catch in traffic and Simms completes a pass to a scout WR. I see Champ out there manning his post .(YAY!) Simms lays out Kenny McKinley and a few people in the crowd get to meet him up close and personal (He made the catch too, even though it was thrown out of bounds). When the ball hits the ground in practice it is considered to be a "Live" ball, and the players are expected to act accordingly. HORN.
The ball boys "Cone" the 35 yard line (right in front of me) as the Punters boom kicks on the opposite field. They run 1st team 11 on 11's at full speed now. After a running play, Correll Buckhalter and Josh Bell exchange pleasantries for a moment. Knowshon gets an extra shove down"Welcome to the NFL, rookie" from one of the D Lineman. Brandon Lloyd "claims" a pass out from the hands of a defender, and Mike Nolan keeps a bold eye on his charges.He and ST coach Priefer are similar in appearance, but Priefer is much more vocal. Moreno gets another carry1st team Defense vs. S.F. Scout team Offense with Red Jerseys depicting Vernon Davis Frank Gore and Michael Robinson for the 49ers. Tom Brandstater leads the scout team. On one play, Marcus Thomas destroys half the line with a penetrating drive up field. Tom Brandstater gets sacked and Simms gets it twice because they hold on to the ball too long. The defense clearly wins this battle. HORN.
Coach Burns shouts out, "Punt Return" and both units line up for some live punts. Colquitt and Kern take turns booming punts and driving Alphonso Smith back each time to field the kicks. After a few of these, they start live coverage and returns, with the Return squad donning the red sleeves on their helmets, so the coaches can tell them apart since the sides are made up of Offense and Defense players.(The "O" practices in white jerseys and the "D" wears Blue) Coach Burns is eyeing the Gunners on my side of the field. He tells McKinley that he is doing a good job while climbing all over Josh Barrett explaining that he cannot get himself run out of bounds and to "Stop Giving Up On Me!"
The coverage team down the ball inside the 5 yard line, and on the next punt Phonz shows some of his promising elusiveness, juking two players in a row and waltzing by them. Burns is very vocal during this segment. After 2 more plays downing the ball near the goal line, the HORN sounds once again.
1st team 11 on 11's. Orton to stokes. Jack MF Williams breaks up a pass intended for Chad Jackson. Kyle overthrows the next pass and then Knowshon shows us why he was drafted at 12 with a nice cut and run. Lloyd beats DJ Johnson on a well thrown deep pass by Orton.The crowd is cheering a little now. Simms hangs Stokeley out high and dry on a pass play that Alphonso Smith breaks up, and Brandon jams one of the fingers on his right hand. On the ensuing play Simms nearly gets sacked and finds the outlet receiver in Jabar Gaffney. I notice E Ped and Jarvis Moss each favoring one leg with a slight limp.
It's nearly 7:15, and the crowd begins to thin out as the players start Red Zone drills. Kenny Peterson and Darrell Reid are getting good pressure and Tony Carter goes up for an INT. Kyle fires a nice pass to Gaffney in the End Zone. On the next play Knowshon fumbles the ball on a sweep to the left and I call out "Take a Lap" and the crowd agrees even though the fumble went out of bounds. Buckhalter runs into the D Line on the next play and the "D" coaches exult. Then Reid and Peterson call out Knowshon to run the next one their way telling the rookie to "Come On." Simms fires a low heater to Chad Jackson at the sideline on the 1 yard line. HORN.
Time for some 4th and 1 practice. Andre' Goodman breaks up a pass intended for Gaffney right in front of my viewing position. After a few more reps, the HORN blows. The players line up for some 1st and Goal tries from the 5 yard line. Renaldo Hill knocks away an Orton to Stokely bullet. before the next play, the Defense calls a timeout. Then Reid calls Chris Kuper on a False start.(Take A Lap, I reply) Orton rips a TD pass to Stokely who promptly spikes the ball in a defiant manner. Knowshon runs up behind him and "Leapfrogs" over Brandon to the delight of the fans.(Then I feel sorrow for those fans that left early...NOT!) Kyle overthrows Gaffney who is blanketed by Champ Bailey. Then they change game situations and spot the ball on the 40. 1st and 10 coming back my way. Goodman "denies" Stokely a high pass and then Josh Bell tips a pass to himself, then fails to come up with it. Prater comes out and nails 3 FG's from 20 yards. He moves back to the 30 and plants one off the manlift 40 feet up in the air behind the Endzone. The next snap is a fake with Kern as the holder rolling out to the right and he weakly throws the ball like a little girl. Matt booms two more from 38 as well as two from 40, before he misses an attempt from 43 yards. Coach Burns keeps saying "Make It Work." On the re try he makes one that would've been good from 50+ easily. The team goes into its final huddle and then its Autograph time. The receivers are signing this evening and I manage to procure a Gaffney and Chad Jackson signature, and then it is time to go home.
I hope you all enjoy the results of this very long day. Life is Good. Go Broncos!