I had the opportunity to go and attend the Broncos' scrimmage at Sports Authority Field, with Calikula, CO Hobbit, and their respective wives.
The festivities kicked off with Dave Logan interviewing first Bronco legend Randy Gradishar and then Bronco alum Ebenezer Ekuban. Peyton Manning and Von Miller both came out, warmed up and pumped the crowd up. Peyton had a few kids out running routes, he hit one in stride for a good 30 yards. The crowd roared. Could that be our next Wes Welker in 15 years, Broncos fans? He certainly looked promising today, let's hope so!
They showed a video review of last season on the new massive Thundervision screen, which looked wonderful.
After they moved inside, clouds moved in on the stadium and rain started to fall. The stadium flashed up a "Severe Lightning Advisory" sign. I know it sounds cheesy, but they actually played "Gimme Shelter" by the Rolling Stones next. We eventually waited out a 45 minute rain delay, getting further soaked all the while.
After about 15 minutes in the pouring rain, Knowshon Moreno came out and went the full perimeter of the stadium, giving high-fives the whole way. It was a very classy gesture and the fans cheered him wildly for it.
About ten minutes later, a whole pump-up committee of Broncos came out. Jeremiah Johnson, Duke Ihenacho, Montee Ball, C.J. Anderson, Vinston Painter and Sealver Siliga came out and rejuvenated the now-excited fans.
Finally the rain let up a little more (although it never did stop completely) and the Broncos team came out. As they ran across the 50, they would drop and slide on their stomachs in the wet grass. It was quite a sight - even Peyton Manning did it! I thought the jig was up then and that we weren't getting any scrimmage...but sure enough, five minutes later, the team came out!
After positional drills, the team moved into the actual 11 on 11. They started with 2nd string offense against 1st string defense, then 1st string offense against 2nd string defense, and finally 3rd stringers against one another.
Here are my observations on how the scrimmage went.
I've been entering into a few debates with a few people about the effectiveness and roster chances of Jacob Hester, so I watched him closely to see how he did. He came out with the second string offense, lining up as a fullback several times. One time in particular,a strongside run off right tackle, he got outside quickly and got a crucial block to seal the edge. Another time, in pass protection, he actually put Von on his back. He really impressed me in the few snaps I saw.
RBs were done by committee (Jeremiah Johnson and Moreno with the second string, Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball with the first string, and Lance Ball and C.J. Anderson with the thirds). Jeremiah Johnson did very well against the first team defense, even with second string blockers. He had two carries that really impressed me. One in particular went right up the gut and gained ten on a 1st and 10. He just couldn't be tackled on that play. I know we've been hearing reports from training camp that he's been doing well, but that was solid impressing proof.
First string safeties were Rahim Moore and Duke Ihenacho; no one rotated in for them.
The alignments for the second string offense were very intriguing. Although they did run some 21 personnel (2 backs, one tight end), several looks came as 12 personnel. One interesting had Andre Caldwell and Tavarres King as the outside receivers, Virgil Green as the tight end and Julius Thomas standing up in the slot, like the Broncos did last year with Jacob Tamme when Stokley went out of the game.
A note: towards the end of the second string offense vs. first string defense, Mitch Unrein rotated in and actually saw snaps in all of the defensive strings. The most snaps he had were with the second string, though. Danny Trevathan also saw first-string snaps.
Next up, the first string offense came out and matched up with the second string defense. In this particular battle, I had a few things I was watching for, so here they are.
The run game was atrocious. I don't know if it's that we have a deep defensive unit and our second string front 7 are good or if our starting RBs are just bad. It made me wish to have Willis McGahee back; he always seemed good for at least five yards when there looked like nothing was there.
I also kept an eye on Wes Welker. He'd had a phenomenal catch in warmups on a ball that was behind him and back shoulder. Great catch. He had a catch on a 1st and 10, a little bubble screen that went for a first down. Remarkable play. Having Welker and his speed and versatility this year really excites me, I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do in a full game. He was targeted in the end zone on one play; it looked he'd dropped it, but come further review, it turned out to be a great defensive play by Omar Bolden.
The lone score of the evening was Peyton Manning rolling right and finding Demaryius Thomas open in the back of the end zone. Touchdown Broncos!
Quentin Jammer was playing with the 3rd string defense. It looks more and more like he'll be cut.
Happy to answer any questions you might have. Thanks, GO BRONCOS!
I'd love to talk about this on the radio show tomorrow. I'll get a thread up tomorrow morning.