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Photo by Kaptain Kirk 7/29/11
The second day of the Denver Broncos 2011 Training Camp was a Friday afternoon affair. I brought a friend along with me so I didn't have to fly solo. We got into the Training Facility at Dove Valley about 10 minutes early and when I tried to claim my usual vantage point, I found a full house. I ended up at the far 38 yard line underneath a pine tree. The quarterbacks are already out playing catch and loosening up. The players emerge from the locker room in Shells and Shorts and I look forward to a lively practice. The JUGG's machine is set up for kick return drills and the HORN goes off to begin practice right on time at 2:20.
Eric Decker, Cassius Vaughn, Perrish Cox, Brandon Bing and Brandon Minor take reps as returner. Bing shows a nice burst after fielding a kick. They go through another round of reps, but they change the return direction several times and using different blocking schemes. Eddie Royal takes a turn, showing the others how it's done. Special Teams coach Jeff Rodgers has a "Scout" group of players standing in the coverage lanes for the return blockers to key on. Cassius Vaughn takes a turn and then Brandon Minor has a return that makes the electricity that Vaughn showed last year, slow by comparison. We a;; know that Cassius is fast, but the two Brandon's, Minor and Bing look like they have the ability to make a man miss tackling them. That is an important trait that needs to return to the Denver Broncos. All things being equal in the NFL, the guy carrying the ball has to be able to either go around, go through or make his man miss him one on one. These two kids have some of that going on. Eddie Royal takes the last return rep. HORN.
11 on 11's at half-speed. The Defense looks like this; Robert Ayers and Elvis Dumervil at End, Kevin Vickerson and Louis Leonard at Tackle, Von Miller (SAM), Joe Mays (MIKE) and DJ Williams (WILL). Champ Bailey and Andre' Goodman pair up with rookies Rahim Moore and Quinton Carter. Perrish Cox rotates in for Joe Mays during the Nickel package. Kyle Orton takes the first 3 plays and completes passes to Eddie Royal and Knowshon Moreno, then hooks up with Eric Decker on a deep out. On Brady Quinn's first look, he hands off to Lance Ball who rushes up the middle. They empty the backfield and Quinn passes to Eric Decker, who starts to run before the catch. The ball falls to the ground incomplete. They are successful the second time. From a 2 Tight End set, Brady Quinn completes a pass to Richard Quinn that Rich has to adjust to. Orton hits Royal on a short curl. LenDale White runs off Left Tackle out of a 3 Wide Receiver set. Kyle passes to Brandon Lloyd on a deep cross and then a short square in. From a 3 Receiver set and Tight End Julius Thomas in the backfield, Knowshon runs off Left Tackle. Lance Ball takes a toss right, but the Defense has it covered. Brady Quinn passes to Matthew Willis and then it's Kyle's turn. Orton completes a deep pass over the middle to Eddie Royal and then he and Eric Decker get mixed up. Coach tells them they have to communicate. Orton passes deep to Brandon Lloyd and then Champ Bailey jumps in front of Eric Decker, intercepting Kyle on a flag route. Orton connects with Lloyd once more. HORN.
Cones are laid across the 40 yard line and "Tuten's Stretch and Flex" interval begins with the team assembled on the Goal Line. They run through the Strength and Conditioning coach's program and then spread out to work on other muscle groups. This runs for about 15 minutes and the "Chain Gang" brings out their wares as the HORN sounds.
The Offense lines up and runs a play, then sprints 30 yards downfield. All 3 units take turns, then turn around and run the plays back up to where they began. After that it's time for individual position drills. The Wide Receiver run slaloms and turn around to catch a pass from one of the assistants. The QB's work two at a time, with the Running Backs and the running lane mat. Tight Ends are seen blocking each other and the Offensive Line does the same. Over on the far field, I can see the Linebackers sidestepping 5" hurdles while a coach throws a simulated fumble at them. The Defensive Backs backpedal then hip turn in time to see a pass coming right at them. A whistle blows and the drills change within the same player groups. RB's coach Eric Studdesville is explaining how he wants his players to run a wheel route out of the backfield as the quarterbacks pass to them. Next up, the Tight Ends join with the QB's and run short curls and the RB's run hurdles. The quarterback reps are consistent with exception to Adam Weber, who gets half the reps at best. Overall, he does a pretty good job with his limited chances, but Brady Quinn has a much better practice. The Running Backs have a portal set up with the hurdles shaped like the number eleven, using it as a running lane. They run a slant towards this lane and practice their cuts. The QB's and TE's are joined by the Wide Receivers for more passing and the RB's catch passes from Studdesville. The Tight Ends run their pass routes from their normal position in relation to the quarterback, while the Wideouts do the same as the quarterbacks work again two at a time, side by side. This seems to be the continual theme for John Fox's Training Camp. The progression tempo is faster, in order to cram the most reps into each session. There isn't as much standing around and there is a serious business happening. He lets the coaches teach and work with the players and interjects when he needs to. No music, no whistle twirling and no temper tantrums or yelling at the other coaches. It makes for a different Camp, but I think it isn't just the lockout that is affecting Dove Valley, these players are hungrier. I don't know if you can inherit swagger by osmosis, but the times they are a changin'.
Matthew Willis is continuing where he left off last year and is catching just about everything. Julius Thomas makes a nice sideline catch in front of me. I stop and take a few pictures as the passing drill moves its way down the field about 30 yards and then they run the drill back toward my end of the field. The Tight Ends break off and go back down by where the Offensive Linemen are working. HORN.
One on One drills. Wide Receivers vs. Cornerbacks, the Running Backs vs. Linebackers and Tight Ends match up with the Safeties in passing drills. The WR/CB battle is directly in front of me, so I focus on it. Champ Bailey, Perrish Cox and Brandon Bing (45) take a knee in front of me so I can view the action. Again there are two quarterbacks working this drill simultaneously. Brandon Bing breaks up a Tim Tebow pass intended for Matthew Willis. Bing gets a sneaky hand in at the last second. Champ Bailey intercepts Tebow as he tries to hit Marshall Williams (14) after Williams slipped mid cut. Kyle Orton overthrows Eric Decker and then Tebow hits Willis with Perrish Cox covering him and coach Garnes has words with Cox. Orton throws a high pass that goes through D'Andre Goodwin's hands. The ball is considered "Live" if it hits the ground and the Cornerbacks are charged with recovering them. I witness a good matchup of Champ Bailey and Brandon Lloyd on a deep pass to the end zone. Champ has the inside position and bats the pass away to the delight of the crowd. On the far side of the field, Eric Decker matches up with Andre' Goodman. Decker has the veteran Corner beat, but Goodman gets his hand in to break up the play. Perrish Cox breaks up a pass also. I notice that Brandon Lloyd is running very nice pass routes. HORN.
7 on 7 drills with the Chain Gang involved. Somehow the down marker is positioned in the middle of my viewing. Knowshon Moreno catches a swing pass out of the backfield in between a 3 catch display between Kyle Orton and Eddie Royal. Von Miller is taking a knee when Linebacker coach Richard Smith calls him three times to get into the drill. He promptly picks off Orton on the next play and I am amused by the rookie's response. Virgil Green (89) makes a fine catch and Tebow passes to Britt Davis, who makes a nice grab. Tebow leads the receiver too much on the next rep and then overthrows Willis deep. As Willis walks back, Tim converses with him. Brady Quinn passes through a group of players, missing them all. Then Adam Weber gets a couple of reps. He completes a sideline pass to Fullback Austin Sylvester (40) and then hits Jeremiah Johnson (37). Brady Quinn throws his best pass so far, to Eric Decker and then hooks up with Julius Thomas (80). Adam Weber overthows a ball past everyone. HORN.
11 on 11's. Out of a 2 Back set, Spencer Larsen leads the way for Knowshon Moreno' Orton passes to Royal on the following play. Champ is a little early on the play, but intercepts Orton's pass intended for Willis. A toss to Moreno nets 5 yards. Lance Ball gets a carry and the Defense adamantly tries to strip the ball and he gets an attitude about it, but doesn't let loose of the ball. Austin Sylvester (40) leads Lance over the left side for no yards. Tebow passes to Mark Dell (83) out of play-action and then LenDale White gets stuffed at the line. Brandon Minor (36) has an impressive run and then Austin Sylvester leads the way for Mario Fannin (42), who waits for his blocks to set up. Fannin gets the next carry for a couple yards. Jeremiah Johnson (37) rips off a nice 7-yard run. HORN.
11 on 11's full speed. Moreno on a sweep right for no gain. Orton passes to Royal, them connects with Decker over the top. Kyle hits Knowshon on a swing pass for about six yards. Tebow gets flushed out of the pocket and throws a wobbly pass that misses it's target. Ball breaks off a 15+ yard run. Tebow throws another wobbler that Willis manages to hold on to. On the next play Tebow wobbles a 10-yard pass behind Britt Davis that is nearly picked off. Brady Quinn connects with Mark Dell. Brandon Minor runs tough and digs in upon contact. He manages a couple of yards on a stacked line. Brady Quinn gets Sacked, but runs, doing his best Tim Tebow impression, running 40 yards down the field. The crowd cheers raucously. Quinn's pass to Jamel Hamler (11) is broken up by Brandon Bing. HORN.
The JUGGs machine sets up on my right at the 20 yard line and Kick Return drills pick up again. Eric Decker, Cassius Vaughn, Perrish Cox, Brandon Bing Eddie Royal and Brandon Minor each get three reps while they practice setting up running lanes. This segment lasts for 10 minutes. HORN.
7 on 7's Orton passes to Richard Quinn low over the middle and the Tight End goes down and gets it. Kyle then completes a pass to Royal, who turns it upfield and takes it to the house. The Chain Gang is obstructing my view again, but I catch a glimpse of Orton completing a pass to Lance Ball in front of DJ Williams. Tebow connects with Dan Gronkowski and then makes a good pass to Britt Davis on a sideline out. They run a similar play and Tebow throws a high wobbly pass that misses a wide open Britt Davis. Brady Quinn hits Mark Dell on a crossing pattern, then makes a good pass to Virgil Green (89) that the Defense strips from the rookie. Brady passes to Dan Gronkowski. Adam Weber overthrows D'Andre Goodwin (16) and then completes his next pass to Marshall Williams (14). HORN.
11 on 11's. Orton goes deep to Decker. Moreno runs a sweep to the left. Kyle hits Eddie Royal in traffic and Royal takes it in for a score. The crowd roars. Orton then hooks up with Decker, who bounces off the first hit and keeps on running. Tebow completes a nice deep out to Britt Davis on the left side and then wobbles one to Mark Dell. Tim finishes his reps with a short sideline out to Britt Davis. Brady fires a short pass to Mark Dell, one to D'Andre Goodwin and another to Julius Thomas. Mario Fannin runs two sweeps to the left and then Adam Weber passes to Virgil Green, who drops the pass. HORN.
The Kick Return Unit comes out for one last run through. Eric Decker, Perrish Cox and Eddie Royal each get a rep. Cassius Vaughn mis-fields a ball and then on his next attempt, shows the jets that he had last season. HORN.
11 on 11's. Moreno gets good yardage on a sweep right and then runs the same play again. Orton passes to Brandon Lloyd, who out jumps Champ Bailey for the reception. Kyle throws a sideline pass to Royal and LenDale White runs left. Tebow passes to Decker on a crossing route. Brandon Minor rips off a long run, then relaxes a bit and then Darcel McBath strips the ball away. Tebow gets Sacked by a two hand touch from Elvis Dumervil and Kevin Vickerson. Tim rolls out anyway and wobbles a pass out of bounds. Mario Fannin gets a tough 5 yards on the left side. Mark Dell has a cramp in his right calf. Brady passes complete to Jamel Hamler. Lance Ball has a good run. Quinn throws a low ball that is broken up and the final HORN signals the end of practice. The autograph session is done by the Running Backs and Special Teamers. Knowshon Moreno, Brandon Minor, Austin Sylvester, Mario Fannin, Spencer Larsen Lonie Paxton, Steven Hauschka all signed and Eddie Royal signed a few too. I hit all the good guys and turn for home. It's real late as I post this and I wonder if I can make it tomorrow. We'll see.
Good night and Go Broncos!
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