Training camp is one thing. Training camp in pads is another entirely.
Another totally awesome thing.
"That's when the real football starts," cornerback Aqib Talib said after practice Friday, only one of several players to talk about the donning of the pads to occur for the first time in six months for the Broncos on Saturday. "This is like pajamas or whatever you want to call it. It'll get a little more live tomorrow."
Talib and I share a common sense of style in sleepwear - a Broncos jersey and shorts have served me well since I was a kid. His workwear is quite different though.
His workwear allows him to hurt somebody.
"I can't wait for that," rookie cornerback Bradley Roby said. "Get some of this aggression out."
"We're still in practice, and they're still my teammates, so there won't be too much of that (hard-hitting)," safety T.J. Ward said, who is renowned for his big hits. Indeed, Denver's addition of the pads is more so the coaches can enjoy a complete evaluation of their personnel, not so players can try to make a practice highlight reel.
"It really holds true in your fronts both offensively and defensively," head coach John Fox said of the evaluation process. "We get out of the underwear. We have been in that since the offseason so it is always an exciting time."
The coaches won't be the only ones upping their evaluations. To date, our scouting reports have been limited to mostly skill position players, as the men in the trenches and even the linebackers and running backs aren't able to truly separate themselves from one another. That all changes when the pads come on Saturday.
"That's when it really gets going,"
"It's always good to get the feel of the pads," said Ward. "Get a little thump going on, a little thud."