The first full team workout is in the books and if I wasn't excited before - which I was - I am definitely excited now. Yes, it is only one practice. What can you learn in a couple of hours?? Everything and nothing.
There will be some video of Kyle Orton to come, as well as a bevy of photos I took. Until then, here are my thoughts as I wrote them down during the morning's workouts.
The first thing to get out of the way - who was here and who wasn't. We know 5 players weren't on the field for various reasons. Knowshon Moreno and Robert Ayers are still working on their contracts. Champ Bailey, Renaldo Hill and Marcus Thomas are on the PUP list. I did see Champ and Thomas coming from the workout facility, so they are here and accounted for. As for everyone else, all were dressed and all practiced, including Brandon Marshall, who looked great. More on that later.
Here are some general observations to get out of the way. I was curious to see if the country club mentality would be gone along with Mike Shanahan. Let me say, the entire feel of the practice session has changed. Right from the beginning there was a sense of urgency. There was intensity, and more importantly, it was focused. You get the sense that Josh McDaniels has sold his team on the fact that every position is up for grabs, every job available.
Another observation was the type of drills the team was working on. A lot more fundamentals than I remember last year. Shanahan's workouts seemed to be geared towards the fans and media. McDaniels, however, seems to be getting his team ready to play football. That is a welcome change, even if I couldn't get as close to the action as last year.
Now, the tidbits --
Ryan Torain is back and better than ever. Again, it is early and Torain needs to prove he can stay healthy, but the quickness and moves he showed last year have returned. David Bruton is still looking for his jock after one particular move by Torain in 11-on-11 drills.
The defensive line is easily the biggest concern this team has, and at one point during sled work they were no more than 5 feet from me. Unfortunately I wasn't impressed. There just isn't anyone who scares me in that group. Not yet anyway. No imposing figure.
I watched Kyle Orton throw....a lot. Let me put it to you as precisely as I can. There is nothing wrong with Kyle Orton's arm. He can make ALL the throws. Repeat. He can make ALL THE THROWS. Today he was on time and on target which was great to see. He won't throw for 4600 yards, but in this offense he won't have to.
A quick note on Tom Brandstater - He looks like an NFL quarterback. Great size for the position and a solid release and spiral.
Alphonso Smith is a football player. He has great instincts for the ball, and has the wheels to get to it. He was returning punts along with Eddie Royal, and even blocked a FG attempt at the end of practice.
The Brian Dawkins Effect is already evident. Numerous times I saw Dawkins 'coaching' David Bruton and Darcel McBath. Quick tidbits here and there, where to be, what to look for, etc. Who better to teach the two rookies? Both seem to have great instincts at safety as well.
Back to Brandon Marshall. He was dressed, he was dancing to the music, and he looked happy to be on the football field. I get the feeling that everything can turn out okay, now that the fans are cheering every time he touches the football (which they are), and that the focus can be between the lines, not outside them. Marshall made several great catches and looked to have no lasting effects from the hip surgery. The Beast looks ready.
There you have it. More to come this evening when the team returns to the field. Stay tuned for some Kyle Orton comments and pictures.