During the hour long drive down to Dove Valley this afternoon, I had time to digest the unfortunate loss of Elvis Dumervil for most if not the entire season. so I decided then and there, that I would try to keep an eye out on Robert Ayers and Jarvis Moss--the two players that this loss will likely affect. I will tell you right now, with that and LenDale White being at the forefront of my thoughts, I completely overlooked the fact that it was the 1st day of Camp for Jamal Williams. I hope you will forgive the omission, because I was really looking forward to seeing how J.D. Walton would fare going up against a premiere NFL Nose Tackle.
I arrive early enough to capture a primo spot in the shade, on the 45 yard line and at the top of the grassy knoll. I find myself sitting next to a cameraman and reporter from Channel 4. This is a better vantage point and it will afford a better possibility to see a bit more of the defense over on the far field. Plus, the "Eye in the Sky" has been moved from it's normal spot at midfield, down to the 30 yard line. "Jungle Boogie" is the first song this afternoon, followed by CrissCross "What Up Chris."
There is a sparse crowd of spectators today. It makes me wonder if the Dumervil news is responsible, or maybe the Denver economy is picking up. Ray Charles' "I got a Woman" is followed by a Waylon Jennings tune and I can see Josh McDaniels giving an interview at the door where the players are destined to emerge. Players trickle onto the field by to the sounds of James Brown's "Baby, Baby, Baby." That turns into Bon Jovi's "Livin on a Prayer," and I wonder if that is an omen for the season. My preference would be Pearl Jam's "Got some If You Need It."
There are 4 Zebras out on the sidelines, so there will be some game simulation and the coaches and players won't be calling penalties on each other. Earth, Wind and Fire's "Dancing In September" begins to play as Tebow walks out to the practice field to a very small scattering of applause. Eric Clapton get's off on 57 Chevys and the JUGG's machine is set up at the 10 yard line to my left.
It is time for Punt Return drills. The Scout Punt team has the red socks over their helmets. Cassius Vaughn and Nate Jones line up to block the Gunner on my left, and Matthew Willis and Tony Carter man the Gunner on the right. The rest of the squad consists of David Bruton, Darcel McBath, Wesley Woodyard, Mario Haggan, Jarvis Moss and I miss the last one. Perrish Cox, Eddie Royal and Syd'Quan Thompson rotate reps as the Return man. Coach Keith Burns is giving instructions to the Gunner Blockers and Coach Priefer goes through blocking assignments. I see Daniel Graham catching high velocity passes from another JUGG's machine from a distance of about 8 yards. He catches a Trash Can full of footballs without a drop and then moves on down the sideline to join his teammates. HORN.
The Defense heads for the far field, while the Offense 1st Team goes against the Scout Team to do some Red Zone drills. Bruce Hall and Lance Ball split the carries while Tim Tebow and Brady Quinn play catch. These drills are being run at half speed and are more like a walk through. They move down to the 5 yard line and Kyle Orton completes a pass to Eddie Royal. The ball gets moved to the 25 and Eddie makes two more receptions. HORN.
Some Hip Hop tune, "Do the Dog Catcher" is playing now and the players assemble at the Goal line for the "Hop, Skip and Jumps." I see LenDale White for the first time. He doesn't have a belly and looks to be in decent shape. And he towers over the other Running Backs. They spread out for the stretch interval and then there is a Team Huddle at midfield where the officials join them. I see a staff assistant with a water hose wetting down a stretch of grass beyond the end zone of the far field. Methinks the rookies will get initiated. Each player that is attending his first Training Camp goes diving after a loose football like they were playing on a Slip N Slide. Assistant Offensive Line Coach Bob Wylie takes a turn and Tebow makes the last dive. The rest of the players are jeering and cheering. It seems to boost morale because everyone comes away laughing and yelling Wy-lie! Wy-lie! The Running Backs and Tight Ends run up and back in a slalom routine around the hurdle pylons, while a ball is passed between an assistant and each player. HORN.
Individual position drills begin. The RB's are in front of me going through their "Lane" drills and I get a better glimpse of the "New Guy." LenDale White has good size and I am a little surprised that he doesn't have a belly nor resemble any of the bad press I have read about him. While fast night be an overstatement, he is showing agility and he looks fresh. Over at the other field, I can see Richard Quinn doing 1 on 1 blocking with a few Linebackers. Tebow throws a very nice deep pass to a receiver that is out of my sight (Darn tree is in the way), and then throws up a Duck on his next attempt. HORN.
The Defensive Backs are working on jamming the receiver at the line of scrimmage, the Linebackers are drilling on their pass coverage zones and drop backs. The Tight Ends work on getting off their initial blocks and into pass routes. The Running Backs are by the "Lane" mat and drilling on pass blocking and the Quarterbacks are working with the Wide Receivers. The linemen are using their hand held blocking pads and are out of my sight path. HORN.
The Tight Ends move over to drill with the Outside Linebackers and I see the Inside Linebackers hitting the tackle sled. The Defensive Backs are in cover drills and the D-Linemen work on pass rush techniques with each other. Horn.
The refs oversee 11 on 11's with the 1st Team Offense vs. the 2nd Team Defense. Lance Ball makes a good run to start the session. Tebow takes a rep and guess what, it's a running play (I'll bet you didn't see that coming). The O-Line is manned by Ryan Harris, Stanley Daniels, JD Walton, Zane Beadles and D'Anthony Batiste. Tyler Polumbus must be in the Dog house. Not only for disappointing play but possibly his direct involvement in the Dumervil injury. Richard Quinn is also getting reps with the 1st Team. The Defense has LeKevin Smith, Jarvis Green, Akin Ayodele, Jammie Kirlew, Baraka Atkins, Nick Greisen, David Bruton Perrish Cox, Kyle McCarthy, and Alphonso Smith. Kyle Orton throws a pass over the head of Brandon Lloyd. Brady Quinn hits Marquez Branson on a deep post down the middle of the field (Nice play). 1st Team Defense rotates in and I see Jarvis Moss playing Left Outside Linebacker and Robert Ayers is on the right side. On LenDale White's first carry of the day, Jarvis Moss is in on the tackle for maybe a yard. On a deep out to Jabar Gaffney, Champ Bailey breaks up the pass and Pass Interference is called. Both players were mixing it up and since they aren't marking yardage, I couldn't tell which player drew the flag. LenDale White gets another carry and rumbles for about 4 yards. Orton runs a keeper across Right Tackle. He looks agile enough to me without messed up ankles. They run a play action pass to Lance Ball and on the following play Ball is stuffed at the line. HORN.
Punt Coverage and Return drills. 7 on 7's (No Gunners). The JUGG's machine puts one all the way into the end zone. Perrish Cox lets it go. The 2nd Team has its turn and they practice the Get Off and Return blocking. Eddie Royal, Perrish Cox and Syd'Quan Thompson rotate as Returners. Coach Priefer is getting intense. Now it is 11 on 11 and the emphasis is on pressuring the Punter. The last two reps are Live Punts and Perrish Cox shows some elusiveness on the final play. HORN.
Red Zone pass drills are next. 7 on 7's. Orton takes the first 3 reps and then Quinn has two. Brady Quinn is picked off by Andre' Goodman on a pass intended for Matthew Willis. Brady completes a pass to DeMaryius Thomas that Perrish Cox is guarding fairly well. Tebow's turn. He holds the ball too long on the first rep and the second pass attempt is behind DeMaryius Thomas. Orton passes to Gaffney and Jarvis Moss and Mario Haggan Hi/Low him to break up the play. Next play Kyle fires a touchdown pass to Brandon Lloyd and Lloyd takes out the play clock located in the end zone. The clock is removed by two ball boys. Daniel Graham drop a pass from Orton and then Kyle hits Marquez Branson on a fade in the endzone. David Bruton breaks up a pass intended for Matthew Willis. On the next play, a flag is thrown on Syd'Quan Thompson who is battling with Eric Decker. Tebow shows indecision, rolls right and finally lobs it incomplete (Shakes head). HORN.
The units switch sides and go 11 on 11's from the 30 yard line. Kyle Orton completes pass underneath to Brandon Lloyd. Justin Bannan and Jarvis Green penetrate on the next play, forcing Orton to throw the ball away. Kyle steps up in the pocket on the ensuing play and Lloyd comes back for a completion. Quinn comes in and has to throw it away out of bounds. Brady rolls out to the right a fires a strike to Jabar Gaffney and then a quick out to Lance Ball for a touchdown. Wink Martindale has a Cow! Kyle hits DeMaryius Thomas on a sideline pass. Tebow runs to the right. Orton makes a sharp pass to Gaffney. Tebow sells the fake well on a hand off to Lance Ball. LenDale White bruises for 5 yards in the Red Zone. Orton throws an incomplete pass behind Gaffney. Toss right to Bruce Hall. Justin Bannan gets penetration, forcing Hall to bounce it outside and he is stopped for no gain. Orton then hits Jabar in the front of the end zone for a touchdown (Nice catch). They run it again from the same spot and Eddie Royal makes a beautiful diving catch on a fade in the end zone. kyle sprints over and high-fives him. Kyle hits Gaffney over the middle, just short of the end zone. HORN.
Switch sides. ball is on the 45 yard line. 1st Offense against the 2nd Team Defense. Bruce Hall for 2 yards. D'Anthony Batiste is in at Left Tackle. They run twice behind his blocking. Apparently Batiste is getting a hard look. LenDale White rips off a nice 10-12 yard run off the right side (Very nice run). HORN.
The refs come back and the Chain Gang sets up on the sideline for 11 on 11's. 2 minute drill. Bruce Hall carries. Brady Quinn misses Richard Quinn. Jarvis Moss stays home and has a Tackle For Loss on Toney Baker who catches a pass in the backfield (Nice play Jarvis). Kyle connects with Brandon Lloyd on a sideline pass and Lloyd is ruled In bounds. Andre' Goodman was defending on the play. Orton is sacked by Ryan McBean on the next play. Kyle throws it anyway and Champ Bailey intercepts it. Kyle then hits Daniel Graham on a deep post even though he was interfered with. Ryan McBean and Robert Ayers force Kyle to throw it away. Jarvis Moss is nicked on the play, but is able to continue. Orton connects with Eddie Royal for a touchdown. That was a good finish to the 2 minute drill. Tebow time. The ball is back on the 45. He pats the ball, pauses and then steps up and throws a pick to Tony Carter at the sideline. The Referee calls it a good catch. The Field Goal Unit comes out and Matt Prater makes two from the 34. They have a narrowed set of Goal posts for Prater to aim for. They move the spot to the other hash mark and Prater makes it from the 35. He misses from the 43 and the second and third tries are good. Cool Down Time. The Linebackers are signing autographs today. Devin Bishop, Akin Ayodele, Jammie Kirlew, Nick Greisen, and Mario Haggan. DeMaryius Thomas is out there too. Eddie Royal signs a handful and the crowd calls for Tebow. He finally does a run by and high-fives the crowd.
LenDale White didn't disappoint on his first full day of practice. Was he terrific? No, but it looks like he can contribute, and he didn't look out of shape. Jarvis Moss had some highlights. He was noticeable in pass coverage, pass rushing, assisting on tackles and even had a Tackle For a Loss. Robert Ayers played in Elvis Dumervil's spot and D'Anthony Batiste played on the 1st Teams at Left Tackle. Royal and Gaffney were featured quite a bit today and Brandon Lloyd also played with the 1st Team. The passing is showing improvement daily. All 3 QB's are throwing more crisp passes and less are being thrown behind the receivers. Kyle Orton took the majority of snaps. Brady Quinn did fairly well with his opportunities and Tebow, well he was Tebow. I took a few more pictures and I will post another set in the near future, but tomorrow is an early wake up for 2 practices.