On this hot summer day, thousands of Broncos fans gathered at Invesco Field at Mile High to watch the team's Summer Scrimmage, which consisted of about an hour of regular practice followed by a scrimmage session and a chance for autographs. This is the third year in a row where a practice has been held at the stadium in the middle of training camp, and if you ever get the chance to go I highly recommend it.
A lot happened there, and here's what I gathered.
- The earlier you get there, the less traffic you have to deal with. Last year I got there right as it was starting, and spent at least 20 minutes within two blocks of Colfax. This year I arrived as the gates were opening, and the traffic around the stadium was not bad at all, even though there were already a few thousand people at the stadium.
- About an hour before practice started, Matt Prater hit a 60 yard field goal with room to spare, drawing cheers from everybody there.
- Kids with leashes make me want to laugh/cry.
- Decker shaved his Fu Manchu. I am disappointed.
- The first players onto the field in full uniform were Steven Hauschka and Britton Colquitt about 40 minutes before practice. A few minutes later, Tim Tebow entered to loud applause (with Colquitt acting as if it were directed at him), and was shortly followed by Adam Weber, and the two of them started working on hitting some routes with coaches and ball boys. Brady Quinn entered about five minutes later, and started working out with a coach by himself. Five or so minutes later, Orton came out and took in his surrounding from the bench for a few minutes before joining Quinn. The two of them took turns throwing to a coach standing next to the other, and gradually increased the distance between each other.
- The rest of the team gradually came out and starting working with their position groups and others on their side of the ball. It looked like Royal was hanging around the QBs for a few minutes. Champ drew loud applause when he entered after the other DBs.
- Shortly before practice officially started the QBs gathered around the 20 on the south end of the field. It looked like Tebow and Orton were trying to see if they could hit a certain spot in the middle of the goal post, but neither was having any success. Then Quinn came up and hit the spot on his first try. Tebow managed to hit it just before they had to go talk to some coaches on the sideline. (See correction by a16416 in comments)
- I really want to see Syd'Quan, Carter, and Irving on the field at the same time at some point this season.
- The linemen didn't come onto the field until a bit after practice had started, and stretched by themselves while the rest of the team did 7-on-7s. Big Vick don't look so big anymore. Ty Warren, Derrick Harvey, and Mitch Unrein weren't wearing any pads.
- 7-on-7s were mostly uneventful (at least they seemed so from where I was), with mostly short, quick routes.
- If he could, I think Orton would wear his hat instead of a helmet on the field. He seemed to be wearing it whenever he didn't need his helmet.
- The punt return team looked good, with Royal, Syd'Quan, and Decker all having at least one good return.
- Once the scrimmage period began, the first units to play were the first team offense and second team defense. The offense was moving up the field fairly easily, but stalled after Decker was ruled out of bounds on a would be touchdown. The next play (third down) Orton ran for a few yards but slid at the five as two defenders came at him. This was the only instance where there was widespread booing, but I guess that's because fans were spoiled by Tebow's style of running last season. The first team offense only scored six points on two field goals.
- Next, the second team offense (ran by Tebow) went against the first team defense, and this was just asking for trouble. Our backup offensive line really has me worried, as the pocket collapsed quickly just about every time Tebow dropped back to pass, resulting in hurried passes and the refs calling Tebow down whenever he started scrambling out of the pocket. (I'd argue that he would have powered out of some of those sacks, but when the QBs can hardly be touched it's hard to tell.) The second team offense did not score in the scrimmage. Dumervil vs. Chris Clark is not a fair matchup, especially when Miller is constantly blitzing.
- After this Quinn ran a few uneventful plays with the second team before they switched to third team offense against third team defense. Quinn shined in this situation, moving the ball downfield successfully and throwing the only touchdown of the day on a nice pass to Virgil Green in the corner of the endzone. Weber ran a few plays, but his turn ended after he was picked off by Brandon Bing, who was taken down hard by Curt Porter. This ended the scrimmage period, and the team then signed autographs while the drumline and cheerleaders performed, while the day ended with three people parachuting into the stadium at high speed.
- Knowshon, Ball, and Jeremiah Johnson all had good runs, with Moreno's coming off a short pass by Orton.
Daniel Fells and Julius Thomas were the only TEs practicing with the first team, while Gronkowski took most (if not all) of the reps with the second team. Green, Rosario, and Quinn all saw time with the third team. I think we'll be keeping four TEs this year, with Fells and Thomas as our top options, and Virgil Green being kept for fear of losing him. Gronk, Quinn, and Rosario will battle for the last spot, which could depend on how the rookies develop as blockers.
- Rosario had the play of the day when he reached over Darcel McBath to catch a Brady Quinn pass, much like what we saw Lloyd do a lot last year.
- Brady Quinn was the star of the day, consistently making good passes, and his only mistake that I saw was a near interception by Bruton.
- We have better overall depth on defense than on offense, at least as far as the lines are concerned.
- The loudest cheers of the day came when Tebow came in to run the second team offense during the scrimmage.
- If Fox is serious about there being a competition for the top QB, he needs to give Tebow and Quinn reps with the first team to eliminate variables. To fairly judge the performance of these two against Kyle Orton, they need to be put into as close to the exact same situation as him. It's like a science experiment, with who's playing QB as the independent variable, and the dependent variable being how well they perform. Otherwise it is not a fair evaluation.