This is lengthy so buckle in!
There is a thinner crowd today since the working class returns to the grind. I make sure that I arrive early enough to park in the designated parking lot and lessen the walking distance. The spectators are finally allowed to enter and I make my way over to the temporary Broncos Store and pickup a 2010 Training Camp Tee. As I leave, I start talking to one of the Event Staff and a Disabled person goes through her little roped off barrier. She sees my Oxygen backpack and offers to let me through. So I take advantage of her generosity and journey over into the VIP and Media area. There is a raised section in the shade to comply with the ADA and I do a little snooping around. The local radio stations are there such as 104.3 the fan, and I decide that while it might be a better place to get autographs, John and Sayre are over here and it would serve everyone better if I go over to my regular position on the sideline.
So I move toward my destination and see Matt Prater practice kicking. From the spot that he would kick he stands and swings his foot back and then through the ball. I situate myself at the 34 yard line and just as I sit down, Tim Tebow makes his appearance ten minutes ahead of schedule. Even with the smaller Crowd, the applause, catcalls and shouts of "Tebow" are raucous.
"Nothing But A Good Time" by Poison blares throughout the complex and Tebow is joined by the Tight Ends--Richard Quinn, Riar Geer, Marquez Branson, and Nathan Overbay out to do some early work. A Ray Charles song starts playing and most of the players have emerged. The Juggs machine sits at the 30 in front of me and the Kick Return drill begins. Perrish Cox, Kenny McKinley and Matthew Willis take turns returning kickoffs. The unit is being instructed on their blocking assignments and responsibilities. After 3 or 4 reps, the 2nd unit is brought in. The Scout coverage team are wearing a red sock over their helmets. I get a very close up look at the newest Bronco, Joe Mays. My impression? He looks like a healthy Linebacker. HORN.
The 1st Team Offense goes up against the scouts. The Mike Linebacker and Strong Safety are wearing red tank tops. They run short run and pass plays with some no huddle thrown in for good measure. The Quarterbacks rotate reps and some screens are ran. HORN.
Some Rap tune starts playing: "Wonder Mike and Grandmaster G" or something like that. The players line up for the Hop, Skip and Jump warm ups. This turns into some 20 yard jogging. Coach McDaniels seems determined that the team will still have their legs deep into the season. After that, the players spread out for the stretching ministrations of Coach Tuten. RUN DMC does their cover of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" and finally Tuten relinquishes his charges from their torture session and the Defense sojourns to the far field. The Offense runs a play and sprints halfway down the field where a ball boy places the ball. They maneuver down the field and back. HORN.
The Running Backs, Linemen, Tight Ends, Wide Receivers and Quarterbacks all separate into individual drills with their position coaches. The Quarterbacks throw to the ballboy and add "touch" passing to their repetitions. On the far field, Defensive Backs practice their backpedal and deep ball technique. HORN.
The WR's work on getting off the line and the TE's join the QB's for some reps. The focus seems to be on the short ball-control type plays. The WR's finish up and come over to watch the Quarterbacks interaction with the Tight Ends. The TE's move to their own positional drills and the WR's run routes for the three QB's. HORN.
The RB's are hitting the blocking sled and the QB's continue working the WR's through more routes. Their passes seem to be a bit better today. I am finding spots to take a few pictures when I have the chance. HORN.
Full Field 11 on 11's begin at the 10 yard line so my field of vision is limited. I am getting irritated by all the "Football Fans" (LOOKIE-LOO'S) that keep impeding my view. I am finding it hard to take pictures, though I hold my tongue. Josh is yelling now and the whistle is no longer twirling because he is using it. He is upping the tempo of practice. Apparently he wants to see what state his team is in. I notice that Spencer Larsen is getting carries. HORN.
One on Ones! In this drill, Tight Ends and Running Backs carry the ball with a 10 yard head start, try to run past, by or through Defensive Linemen and Linebackers. This is fun to watch. There are hits and misses, jukes and impacts, laughs and groans. It goes on for about 5 minutes and then the HORN sounds.
The First teamers go 11 on 11 and the Offense works on the Run game at Full speed. Both Lines are getting some serious work in. Ryan Harris makes an error that I don't catch and has to run a lap. Josh is picking on his Defensive Coordinator with vocal taunts. Bruce Hall speeds through a hole and shows some toughness. Spencer Larsen is getting touches, both running and receiving, due to the absence of Correll Buckhalter and Knowshon Moreno. I see Paul Duncan take a lap. The Lines are taking turns having success and Mario Haggan gets a little positive notice from the coaches. On the far field WR's go against the DB's with the Juggs machine throwing passes. HORN. Good work in that session.
The Juggs machine reappears in front of me and another go-round of Kick return practice drills begins. Darcel McBath, Wesley Woodyard, Josh Barrett, Nick Greisen, Demaryius Thomas, Marcus Thomas, Seth Olsen, D'Anthony Batiste, Spencer Larsen and Eric Decker participate. Perrish Cox, Matthew Willis and Kenny McKinley each do a fine job returning kicks. 2nd team KR Unit is substituted in and told to run to their positions. Eddie Royal takes a rep as Kick Returner. The Unit is tested with a surprise onside kick attempt. I'll tell you what I think. If this translates to the regular season, the Kickoff Return Teams will be as good as the Kickoff Coverage Team was last year (this is a good thing). HORN.
The QB's and WR's resume passing drills and I see more "hands on" instruction by the position coaches. I also notice a 20 second clock set in the end zone so I deduce that there will be some situational drills going on later. Or it could be for the QB's, to get the offense set and in position in a timely manner. HORN.
Tempo, Tempo, Tempo. The players are told to hurry to the next session. The yardage chains come out and are set up in front of me. 7 on 7's (no linemen) are run at a diligent pace. The short passing game is worked on and Daniel Graham and Spencer Larsen get some touches. Tim Tebow connects with Matthew Willis goes up and "Claims" the ball. He has been very noticeable so far this Camp. Richard Quinn makes a catch. Tebow holds the ball all day (7-8 seconds) and then finally hits Willis coming back to the ball. The Nickel "D" gets some work against the Offense now. Brady Quinn hits Demaryius Thomas against the 2nd Team Nickel "D." HORN.
Players run to the next drill. The Offense and Defense switch ends and the 1st Teamers go 11 on 11. They start with short passes and then Tebow comes in and runs a QB Draw. Stokely makes a catch running from the slot. Quinn connects with Matthew Willis and then overthrows Jabar Gaffney. Tebow comes in and the Defense signal calling tris to confuse him. He ends up running a keeper. Orton comes back in and is sacked by Elvis Dumervil. Tebow runs over the right side. HORN.
The chain gang removes themselves. The Units switch sides again and resume 11 on 11 drills. Gaffney catches a deep ball from Orton and then Orton leads too much and overthrows Eddie Royal. Lance Ball runs with some speed and Larsen catches an out and when he turns it upfield, Joe Mays trips him up. Toney Baker runs up the middle. Tebow is showing that he hasn't adjusted to his reads in real-time NFL speed yet. I am sure he will find a way to improve that. However, he made a handoff on a running play and I was convinced that he still had the ball. Good work rookie! Then he goes and throws the ball at the feet of his receiver on the next play. Ayers would have sacked him as he was literally breathing down Tim's neck before the throw. Yes, there will be growing pains. HORN.
They switch sides and continue. Kolby Smith hits the hole hard. I notice Justin Bannan working on the right side. Kyle has a pass batted down behind the line. Good penetration by the D-Line. After he throws the ball away on a busted play, Bruce Hall gets a carry. Brady Quinn tosses a bubble screen to Bruce Hall and the play is executed very well. Larsen runs for some tough yards and it is nice seeing his involvement develop. On the next play Tebow, tosses an abortion of a wannabe shovel pass crossed with a left-handed panic throw a la Jake Plummer/Kyle Orton. Kolby Smith has a real nice run through the line. HORN.
The Time clock is now being used. 1st Team 11 on 11's. A run by Lance Ball is strung out by Jarvis Green for no gain. Some play-action and screen passes are mixed in with a few running plays. Champ Bailey gets completely turned around by Eddie Royal and Eddie burns him on a comeback route. Champ shows disgust and mumbles something unprintable. Wesley Woodyard breaks up a pass intended for Lance Ball. The 2nd Team Nickel package comes in and after a false start, Marquez Branson has to take a lap. After a Bruce Hall run, Tony Carter drops an Orton pick 6. Jarvis Green strings out another run for no gain. The Offense does something wrong and the whole Offense takes a lap. On the way home, I found out in a Daniel Graham interview that McDaniels was upset about the sloppy play from the Offense. HORN.
It is now 5 minutes past the scheduled end of practice. Bonus Time Baby! The 1st Teamers run the 2 minute No-Huddle Offense. Daniel Graham makes a few catches and Orton has to throw consecutive passes away. During the next play, Tyler Polumbus is blocking an outside move that Elvis Dumervil turns inside, and Zane Beadles hammers Doom to the ground. Nasty. The ball is returned to the 30 yard line and they start the drill over with the 2nd Teams. Bruce Hall has a nice run, Quinn hits Marquez Branson and a DB strips the ball out of bounds. Another two passes to Branson and on the second one, Kyle McCarthy drills him hard. Woodyard breaks up the next pass to Branson and they finish with a sideline completion to Marquez and an over the middle catch by Kenny McKinley. HORN.
Field Goal Kick blocking takes place. The Gunners practice laying out for the block and diving onto a landing pad. Special Team's Coach Mike Priefer is giving hands on instruction to his charges. The Defensive Linemen work on penetrating to block Field Goals further down the field. HORN.
The players line up for sideline wind sprints. Tebow and Brady Quinn race each other sideline to sideline. The Receivers don't slack either. They start a cool down session and then the end of practice Team Huddle. Autograph time. Jeff Stehle, Jarvis Green, Ben Garland, Ron Fields, LeKevin Smith and Ryan McBean (that dude is huge!) all sign today. The crowd calls for Tebow and after a few minutes, he smiles and runs down the line of fans high-fiving everyone. The fans are delighted even though they are wanting autographs. The Gushing continues.
My take on the day's practice: Matthew Willis, Jarvis Green, and Mario Haggan stood out. Tebow stood out like a rookie, but other than that he has remained focused. I've heard it said (not by anyone in the crowd) that Tyler Polumbus has improved a lot. I sure hope so, because it looks like he will hold the fort until Clady returns. Perhaps it is too early to make that call, but that is the current situation. The RB's ran well today, when the D-Line didn't have their way. Good back and forth by the lines. There were some hard hitting blocks during this practice. There was also an emphasis on the ST's so far, but I expect the 11 on 11 action to get more of the focus as Camp goes on. I took more pictures and they will be coming soon, I promise.