This morning's practice wasn't rained out. I was starting to wonder if maybe I brought the rainy Kentucky weather with me to Colorado. Fortunately, the storms didn't stick around.
Thanks to the sunny Thursday morning weather, I was able to enjoy my first ever Broncos training camp practice. Kirk Davis saved me a spot near the front of the line, which was nice because I arrive about an hour early... which was about a half hour too late. Sayre Bedinger was in line ahead of us, so we got a chance to talk with him for a little bit.
Sayre was with his brother and they sat around the 42 yard line, while I was the copilot to Kaptain Kirk's right, around the 48 yard line. It was a pretty nice view. Players began stretching and were well organized 5 yards apart. All except for Von Miller, who stretched an arms distance away from Elvis Dumervil. They truly are Batman and Robin. Later on, I could see them both running sprints together while the field goal unit was on the field. How blessed are we to have two elite pass rushers like that?
The electricity that ensued with Peyton Manning behind center was like something I've never experienced. The world stops when Peyton Manning takes the snap. You've heard it all, before. We've got a special season lined up if Peyton Manning stays healthy.
What an amazing day for Demaryius Thomas. He was clearly the best player of the day. With Eric Decker sitting out during team installs (he did participate in wide receiver drills, even worked with the veteran Brandon Stokley), Demaryius Thomas got a lot of love from Peyton Manning. During 2nd team snaps, I would look over to see what Peyton was doing and 9 times out of 10 he was talking with Demaryius Thomas. They had a real connection, all practice long. If you read the Kaptain's Log, you'll see that Demaryius was targeted on a deep ball but the ball bounced off of Mike Adam's back. Demaryius had Champ Bailey draped all over his back, but he had worked his way inside on the deep post, allowing Peyton Manning the middle of the field to throw the ball. Mike Adams came late across the field.
That play was a precursor for what would happen later in the practice. Demaryius Thomas went deep again, this time the connection was better. He had a safety trailing him by 3 yards or so, so when Peyton Manning threw a tad short, DT had to hitch his stride a bit, allowing Mike Adams to recover and challenge for the ball. Demaryius was able to use his strong hands to maintain control of the ball, though, snatching it away from the diving defender for a deep touchdown.
In another 11 on 11 play, Demaryius was able to catch a ball on a quick comeback and turn it up inside the cornerback and clear him, with only the safety to beat. He was running for the corner pylon and gave the safety a strong stiff arm to gain some more yardage.
That's the kind of Demaryius that I want to see more of, displaying all of his speed and power. With Decker sidelined, Demaryius was Peyton Manning's go-to guy. I can't wait to see what happens during the season with both players healthy. Demaryius was getting wide open, making it easy for Peyton to get him the ball. Not like he needs to be wide open, though. Peyton Manning is so talented that the receivers don't need to be open for him to release the ball. For example, in a goalline situation, he threw it just past the outstretched hands of Nate Irving for a Joel Dreesen touchdown. Joel Dreesen was not open. Not even a little bit. Manning only needs a few inches, though, to make it a completion.
A friend of mine texted me asking who he should draft in his fantasy football league. I told him to get any Bronco that is in the passing game. After seeing today's practice, I hold strong to that opinion.
Peyton Manning Goofing Off
Peyton Manning works hard and he plays hard. A good example came today a few minutes after he hit Demaryius Thomas for the deep bomb touchdown pass. He was standing close to the fans, around the 40 yard line. A water boy came by and gave him a Gatorade bottle. Peyton unscrewed the lid a little bit and turned around to the crowd. He handed the bottle to a little kid and said something along the lines of "you can have this if you chug it". He made a motion with his hand, illustrating that he needed to tip the bottle way up and chug it. The kid did it and threw the bottle back to Manning. Manning gave it to another kid and told the kid to chug it.
I bet the water felt nice when it poured all over the kid's face. Everyone in the surrounding area was laughing. Demaryius Thomas was right behind Peyton, stretching, and he could barely contain himself because it was so funny. A short time later, Brandon Stokley came up and talked to Peyton, presumably asking what happened, because Peyton answered with a smile on his face and nodded backwards toward the soaked kid.
David Bruton Injured... For a Moment
Another interesting moment occurred at the very beginning, before most players were even on the field before warm ups. David Bruton was on the field with Lonie Paxton, catching snaps as a fuex Britton Colquitt. He would catch the football, take a step and swing his leg forward as if to punt an invisible football before throwing the ball back to Lonie Paxton. I glanced over at some other things for a second. When I looked back to Paxton and Bruton, Lonie had snapped the ball, Bruton caught the ball and swung through with his leg. He immediately leaned over and grabbed his right hamstring letting out a brief "AHH!!!"
Paxton looked back, concerned, and Bruton stood up straight and was clearly clowning around to get a rise out of Lonie. I looked at Kirk and said "That's not funny", because I thought he was legitimately hurt and we can't afford to lose any safeties. Looking back, though... it was pretty funny.
Of course, David Bruton went on to have a very good practice, including a pick six on a fake field goal pass to the left flat. No quarterback was a part of that play, though, so rest assured. By the way, the field goal session was the only area that wasn't very crisp in this practice. Matt Prater missed left and then on the next kick he missed right. The next few went in, but a handful of plays later was the aforementioned pick six. It was the second fake field goal pass. The first went for a minimal gain to the left side, maybe enough for a first down if the situation was 4th and 1 or so. Maybe.
At the end of practice, the wide receivers (plus Peyton Manning) were going around to sign autographs. I didn't even attempt to go down to the south endzone for a chance to get a Manning autograph. That place was packed. Instead, I stayed right around midfield and waited for Virgil Green, Chris Gronkoswki and Andre Caldwell. All three players were extremely kind. Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas were also signing near me, but neither reached me during the allotted signing time.
I was clowning with former Cincinnati Bengal, Andre Caldwell, a bit. I told him how I had traveled all the way from the greater Cincinnati area and drove 1200 miles to see the Broncos practice. He said, "Oh yeah? I been there." I replied, "Man, next time, we should carpool." He laughed.