Photos by Kaptain Kirk 8/17/11
I am an hour early for Training Camp practice at the Denver Broncos Dove Valley Facility and after driving through some rain, I am relieved when the sky clears up. It is a cooler afternoon than the past few days and I take up residence in the shade at the 47 yard line, about 40 minutes before the scheduled starting time of 2:20pm. The JUG's machine is carted out and set up at the 30 yard line for Punt Return simulation and at 2 O'clock, Tim Tebow makes his customary appearance and begins to loosen up. Another Full Pad practice today, which is good because if the players are in shorts there's not much contact. I also meet up with MHR member Alexander Wall. He and I will be enjoying practice together and comparing notes. HORN.
Special Teams. The JUG's machine launches punts for Matthew Willis, Syd'Quan Thompson, Perrish Cox, Eddie Royal, Eric Decker and David Anderson to field. Meanwhile, ST's coach Jeff Rodgers has another group of players doing a punt return blocking drill. The situation is, after the punt is away, the players on the receiving team must retreat down toward the return man, turn and block the coverage team. So the players are practicing the retreat, then turn and engage their assignment. If their coverage man is right beside them, Rodgers points out a backhanded method similar to a clothesline, except the arm goes across the opponents shoulder pads at chest high. They are to use that momentum to spin into position for a squared up block. HORN.
The 1st team Offense and Defense goes into their play installing/walk-through's for 15 minutes. HORN.
Tuten time. The stretch and flex interval begins with "Roll Up" by Wiz Khalifa, followed up by a Kings of Leon song called "Radioactive." The players spread out across the field for additional stretching as a song called "My Last" by Big Sean and Chris Brown finishes up the segment. HORN.
The Offense does their "Run a play and trot 20 yards down the field" routine. All the units take three reps each. HORN.
The individual position drills begin. Wide Receivers coach Tyke Tolbert jams his students at the line of scrimmage as they take off into their pass routes. The Quarterbacks are throwing quick outs to the Tight Ends, while the Running Backs run through their hurdle drill and coach Eric Studdesville attempts to strip the ball away from them. The Offensive Linemen are over at the opposite field beating up the blocking sleds. The Defensive Linemen are working together in 1 on 1 drills and the Defensive Backs are doing a backpedal and burst forward drill. I think this would simulate a Receiver doing a comeback route and the DB's reaction to that situation. The Linebackers are working on dropping back into coverage, both zone and man to man. ST's assistant Keith Burns (who also played LB for the Broncos) uses a makeshift line including the Running Back position made up of the other Linebackers, to simulate a play for them to react to. I am really liking what I see out of the coaches and their instruction. This can only be a positive thing and hopefully we will see the results in the near future. The quarterbacks join the Wide Receivers and the Tight Ends practice getting off the line of scrimmage against one another. The Running Backs begin their pass catching drill. Coach Studdesville fires passes at them while the run crossing routes, swing (wheel) routes and straight out of the backfield routes. They run both left and right, catching passes over each shoulder. The Offensive Line comes back to the near field and they work 5 on 5 against each other. HORN.
The ball is placed on the 1 yard line for 11 on 11's with the 1st teams. The Offense is moving out of the End Zone area. Knowshon Moreno gets 2 yards on his first carry and then another 5 yards running around the left edge. Andre' Goodman slips and Kyle Orton finds a wide open Brandon Lloyd for 12 yards. Mission accomplished and the 2nd unit steps up with Tim Tebow at the helm. Brandon Minor gets 2 yards on his first carry and four more on the second. His third attempt is stuffed at the line. Tebow's pass is intercepted by Kyle McCarthy. I don't know if anyone else was open, but the receiver was double covered and the pass had too much air under it.
The ball is placed at the 20 yard line and the Offense is still moving towards midfield. Orton finds Daniel Fells for a short gain. On the next play, Kyle overthrows Matthew Willis. Andre' Goodman is covering him and can't catch up to the ball either. Orton completes a pass to Eric Decker in front of Rahim Moore. Orlando Franklin and Ryan Clady some how collide during the play and both are shaken up. Franklin recovers and only misses one snap, but Clady is limping. He walks gingerly back to the End Zone and receives attention from one of the Trainers. Later on, I see him walking around. The team holds him out of the rest of practice, but it looks like he will be okay. As all this is going on, Kyle hits Willis McGahee in the flat and the Running Back scampers upfield for about 10 yards. Then Von Miller gets in for a Sack on Orton. Chris Clark is promoted to the 1st string in Ryan Clady's absence and I can tell you that Elvis Dumervil is schooling him. Herb Taylor will also get reps at Left Tackle with the 1st unit during the rest of practice. Tebow comes in and steps up in the pocket, hooking up with Matthew Willis on the run (Not bad). The Tebow completes a pass to Dante Rosario with Joe Mays and Derrick Harvey bearing down on him. His next pass goes through the hands of Willis McGahee. It's Brady Quinn's turn and he promptly throws an interception. This is the highlight play in today's practice session. Wesley Woodyard leaps like a gazelle and tips Quinn's pass straight up in the air. Then as he is laying on the ground, Woodyard snags the ball one-handed to the cheers of everyone who witnessed the play. Brady' next pass is complete to Virgil Green, but Manny Ramirez comes up limping after the play.Quinn's next pass goes to Dante Rosario. Adam Weber hits Eron Riley at the sideline and then completes a pass to Greg Orton, who fumbles after the catch and recovers. HORN.
2 minute Water break. Coach Fox tells the players, "Take a squirt, take a rest."
Back to 11 on 11's. Knowshon Moreno runs for 5 yards up the middle. McGahee is stuffed at the line, but on his next carry, makes a nice cut back for good yardage. Moreno gets another 2 yards. Herb Taylor is in at Left Tackle now and the difference is measurable. Willis McGahee makes another one-cut run and gets 6 yards out of it. Lance Ball gets around the left corner for 8 yards. Brady Quinn is up next. Lance Ball runs around the right side for 5 yards. Brandon Minor follows an Austin Sylvester lead block for 1 yard and then is stuffed on his next carry. The 2nd team Defensive Line is markedly better than the 2nd team Offensive Line. Brady connects with Dan Gronkowski and then it's Tebow time. Jeremiah Johnson can't get any yardage on two tries. The O-Line just isn't getting any push or create holes to run through. HORN.
The ball is spotted at the 45 yard line (directly in front of me). Kyle Orton hits Daniel Fells on a Tight End screen that is successful. Willis McGahee runs for 2 yards. Chris Clark is back at Left Tackle for this series. Orton connects with Brandon Lloyd on a comeback route. McGahee takes a toss left for 10 yards. Kyle throws deep intended for Lloyd, but Champ Bailey gets one hand on it to break up the pass. Orton throws a long pass up the sideline for Knowshon Moreno. DJ Williams is guarding him well and the ball hits him in the back. DJ never looked back. He held his ground well and ran step for step with Knowshon so that Moreno couldn't adjust his route, but he never turned for the ball. I would call that Pass Interference. Brandon Minor runs up the middle for a nice gain and then Tebow is Sacked by Derrick Harvey and Ryan McBean. CJ Gable gets a yard. Brady Quinn rolls out to the right on play-action and throws incomplete intended for Britt Davis. Jeremiah Johnson runs for 6 yards and then stumbles for 1 yard on his second carry. HORN.
2 minute Water break.
TThe JUG's machine sets up at the 30 yard line once more and begins to fire punts for Eddie Royal, Eric Decker and David Anderson. Coach Rodgers has two groups side by side doing 1 on 1 drills for the punt team. Retreat, turn and block. This is done near the line of scrimmage. After a few minutes, they adjust the drill for 10-20 yards downfield in the same scenario. The two drills differ from one another, but the backhanded chest slap that I mentioned earlier is part of the drill. HORN.
11 on 11's with the 1st teams. The ball is at the 30 yard line. Kyle passes for Lloyd in the End Zone and it is broken up. I don't notice the defender because Lloyd gets nicked on the play. He limps off and goes behind the VIP tent for a few minutes clutching his left knee. He ends up returning to the sideline about 5 minutes later, but is held out for the rest of practice as a precaution. That knee was already sore from a previous practice. Orton's pass to McGahee is dropped. Then Kyle finds David Anderson for a touchdown.
Herb Taylor replaces Chris Clark as the ball is placed at the 15 yard line. Orton finds Daniel Fells and Taylor does a good job against Elvis Dumervil. Kyle hits Fells again, but this time for a touchdown. Orton passes incomplete to Eddie Royal. Andre' Goodman broke up that play. Brady Quinn hits Lance Ball over the middle and then Tim Tebow has a pass intended for Britt Davis broken up by Cassius Vaughn. Quinn passes to Gronkowski at the sideline. Then Tebow has to throw the ball away as he is harassed by Ryan McBean, who acts like a bear pawing after Tim with both hands. It was kind of funny, but you would have had to see it. I couldn't explain it any better for you to visualize. Still, I would say that it was a good play by Tim. He was backpedaling and I don't think he was in a position to elude McBean. Adam Weber fires a pass complete to Dante Rosario. The next play is a bad snap. Weber recovers the ball and tries to roll right, but Jeremy Beal is there for the Tap Out. HORN.
The ball is set at the 45 yard line. Orton throws a deep pass to Eddie Royal, but Champ Bailey comes up with the pick. Kyle passes up the sideline to a sprinting Knowshon Moreno, who makes the catch while blanketed by Von Miller. Great pass, catch and coverage. Orton's pass intended for McGahee is tipped incomplete. The Kyle hits Britt Davis on a crossing route. Orton then connects with Matthew Willis on a pass that I thought Joe Mays had knocked away. Kyle passes to Royal and then Tebow runs around the left side sprinting down the field. Tebow's pass intended for Brandon Minor is broken up by Perrish Cox. Before the next snap, Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy makes them re-huddle and tells the players to get the play right. Brady Quinn swing pass to Brandon Minor is good for 12 yards. After a bad snap, Quinn's pass is dropped by Eron Riley. Adam Weber passes to Jamel Hamler, who is covered by Brandon Bing and then Weber completes a short pass to Greg Orton who is absolutely pummeled by Syd Quan Thompson. HORN.
The Special Teams units split up into two groups, one at either end of the field. To my right, Offensive Line coach Dave Magazu is teaching the punt rushers how to use the "Forklift" technique at the line of scrimmage. On my left, the Field Goal unit is practicing. A good breeze is picking up, but it shouldn't affect the kickers since it is at their back. Steven Hauschka makes Field Goals of 40 (twice), 45 and 52 yards with a fake Attempt in the middle of those reps. Matt Prater hits the camera man's platform on the scissor lift behind the VIP tent on a 30 yard Field goal. After another fake Attempt, he makes 35, 40, 46 and 52 yard Field Goals. HORN.
The ball is spotted at the 40 yard line (60 yards to the End Zone) to my right for a situation drill. The clock is set at 1:40 and the Offense is down by 5 points and has 1 Timeout. They need a touchdown. Kyle Orton hits Knowshon Moreno for 20 yards and then Britt Davis for an additional 25 yards. A quick pass to Eric Decker puts the ball at the 3 yard line. Moreno gets nothing on 1st and Goal. The Offense uses their Timeout and then Kyle finds Matthew Willis for the touchdown. They go for a two-point conversion to make it a 3 point lead. Knowshon Moreno runs up the middle and scores.
The ball comes back to the 40 and Brady Quinn gets a turn. He passes to D'Andre Goodwin for a 10-yard gain out of bounds. Another pass to Goodwin nets a 4-yard gain. On a short pass to Brandon Minor, Mario Haggan makes a "Welcome to the NFL" highlight hit on the young rookie. Brady hits Virgil Green for 20 yards and when he goes to that well again, David Bruton breaks up the pass. To rub it in further, Bruton intercepts Quinn's next pass.
New scenario: The ball is at the 40 yard line (with 40 yards to the End Zone), down by 2 points and 23 seconds on the clock. Orton completes a 15-yard pass to Decker who went out of bounds, but the officiating coach says he is inbounds, so Orton has to spike the ball. The Field Goal unit runs on the field to attempt a 43-yarder. Steven Hauschka's kick is good. Tim Tebow takes too much time, starts to run and then stops and looks up to throw low incomplete to Eron Riley. Matt Prater lines up for a 58-yard Field Goal Attempt that misses to the right. HORN.
The end of practice huddle with John Fox takes place and then the Tight Ends draw autograph duty. I get all 5 of them to sign hats; Julius Thomas, Daniel Fells, Dante Rosario, Dan Gronkowski and Virgil Green. Time to head for the homestead. The last practice open to the public is tomorrow morning so I will say good night. I thought practice went well, as long as Clady and Lloyd are okay.