The third Training Camp practice for the 2014 Denver Broncos figures to be a little more lively. This should be a full pad practice and the Running Back/Linebacker smack talk will finally show it's true colors. The Wide Receiver/Defensive Back battle should be a bit more realistic as well, but I think the Linemen have been looking for this day to come for a few months now. They finally get to hit someone. Anyone.
As the players emerge from the building, I'm watching one entrance while Casey Barrett looks to the other so he can get a good shot of Peyton Manning. After Peyton trots out onto the field, I go and greet a coach I spied yesterday who I don't recall seeing last year. His name is Reggie Howard. So I introduce myself and ask if he is a Quality Control coach. He says, bo I'm an intern. We chat for a bit and I wish him the best of luck in his future. Right around that time, the first HORN begins the Day 3 practice session.
The JUGG's machine is sitting at the South Goal line and is adjusted to launch punts, while Coordinator Jeff Rodgers has guys lined up for their "Get Off" at the line of Scrimmage. The Quarterbacks are lined up 3 wide and taking snaps, with Manny Ramirez, Matt Paradis and Will Montgomery are the obliging Centermen. The other Offensive Linemen are straddling the sideline in front of me and doing footwork drills. Ryan Miller is a huge specimen and 3rd round draft pick Michael Schofield isn't small by any means either. Fielding punts are Jordan Norwood and Isaiah Burse. HORN.
The 1st teams huddle up on the field in front of me and the second unit works over on the other field. In this first 11 on 11 segment, Aqib Talib and Kayvon Webster are the Corners, T.J. Ward and Rahim Moore the Safeties, Danny Trevathan and Nate Irving the Linebackers and Terrance Knighton, Derek Wolfe, Kevin Vickerson and DeMarcus Ware on the Line. Coach Fox says, "don't we play with 11 on a side?" Malik Jackson ends up as the late addition on the Line for one play, a Manning pass to Wes Welker. Then Bradley Roby comes in as the 5th DB while Malik leaves the field of play. Peyton hits Montee Ball in the flat. On the next couple of plays I overhear Manning's cadence change. Sugar! Montana! Apple, Apple! Cutter! Scarecrow! Louisiana! along with the usual Omaha! I see Von Miller in for a few reps before he rotates out for Lerentee McCray. The walk-through continues with Peyton not even throwing a pass, just going through the motions as the players are able to do more than visualize where they are supposed to be on each play. Eric Studesville keeps a steady chatter with Montee Ball, mostly verification on where he is supposed to be and giving praise. HORN.
And the Team stretch interval begins with a couple of songs that are out of my musical genre of knowledge. The first is "No Flex, Zone" if that makes any sense. The other one is indistinguishable to anything I've ever heard. For all I know it could be Lil' Wayne or Lil' John and I wouldn't be able to tell the difference. HORN.
Individual drills begin with the Offense trotting over to the opposite field and the Defense stays put in front of me. The Linebackers are hitting a sled, bouncing off and shedding a big (30") rubber ball. The D-Linemen are working at midfield and the DB's are during press/Get off maneuvers at the Line Of Scrimmage. They rotate after about 5 minutes and the Linemen hit the sleds. On the other side, the Running backs are high stepping the string ladders and the Quarterbacks do their footwork drills. The Wide Receivers run through their pass route tree and in two separate groups, the Tight Ends and Offensive Linemen doing one-on-one blocking against each other. HORN.
The Linebackers move to a Line of Scrimmage 1 on 1 "First Move" shed drill. The Safeties work on their first hit and wrap up on a simulated Running Back coming out of the backfield. Patrick Smythe comes by and asks me if I have everything I need. I reply that I am being treated like I'm a celebrity. He goes on to say that Mile High Report and what John (Bena) built is totally awesome and that YOU are all very much appreciated by the staff. He goes on to say that the Broncos were the first team to invite/allow bloggers media credentials. Personally, I hope the readers realize that this is another example of the way Mr. Bowlen does things--A class act throughout the organization.
The Safeties work on a backpedal drill where they pivot both ways. The Linebackers are doing a first move shed drill around one of the coaches who is holding arm pads and harassing them. Meanwhile, the Defensive Linemen are making a horrendous racket on the blocking sleds. I keep waiting for one of them to shatter into tiny pieces. On the other side, the Quarterbacks handoff to the Running Backs as they travel through the running lane mat. The Wide Receivers are doing a ladder drill and passing the ball back and forth to Coach Tyke Tolbert and the Tight Ends and O-Line are beating each other up. The Linebackers are now doing their drop backs while watching their levels and spacing.
About halfway through this 20 minute segment, two groups on the Defense gather together. It looks like one side is working on stuffing the run with six men in the box. The other is doing Zone coverage maneuvers. Across the field, the Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers are during pass drills 2 at a time. HORN.
Two wobbly Tackling dummies are set up at an imaginary Line of Scrimmage for the next drill, which is 1 on 1 pass blocking. Running Backs start out blocking against a Safety blitz while Tight Ends line up against the Linebackers. The coach changes up the matchups so the LB's rushing the RB's and the TE's block the Safeties during the session. The Linebackers have the early edge and probably win the segment, but Ronnie Hillman does a good job on Lamin Barrow. Montee Ball and C.J. Anderson have one bad rep each, but otherwise look good too. This drill is real competitive and some of the Defensive guys watching are stirring things up good natured-ly. HORN.
11 on 11's start up with Lerentee McCray still subbing for Von Miller. Montee Ball crashes into the Line in the first physical action of Camp and gets a couple of yards. On the next snap, Ball is Face Masked in the backfield by DeMarcus Ware. Manning dumps off a pass to Montee Ball that goes for 6 yards even though DeMarcus was there at Manning's doorstep. After a quick out to Bubba Caldwell, Ronnie Hillman carries the ball up the middle, sidesteps and gets 4 to 5 yards. I hear Terrance Knighton on the sidelines telling his teammates to "Dominate."
Brock Osweiler enters and hands off to Ronnie Hillman, who gets another 5 yards. C.J. Anderson gets a pair of carries, the first goes for 2 yards. He is hit by Brandon Marshall in the backfield on the second carry and still manages to fight for positive yardage because Marshall didn't wrap him up. Brennan Clay keeps his feet moving upon contact and drives for 3 extra yards, pushing the pile. Kapri Bibbs takes off around the right side on a good run that goes for 10 yards easily. The best run of the day in fact. He gets another carry, this time for 4 yards up the middle. Zac Dysert rotates in for a few snaps. Jerodis Williams is stuffed at the line. Juwan Thompson gets stuffed by Chase Vaughn in the backfield and then picks up 4 yards on his next rep. HORN.
7 on 7's begin the next segment. Peyton Manning passes to Julius Thomas and then Virgil Green, who is being blanketed by T.J. Ward. Another pass to Julius and then Wes Welker. On the last rep, Manning double pumps and hits Andre Caldwell. Brock Osweiler comes in and connects with Nathan Palmer on a late cross. Brock's next three passes go complete to Cody Latimer, Gerell Robinson and Bennie Fowler--who showed off some speed, but drops the next pass. Zac Dysert throws complete to Jameson Konz.. Steven Johnson gets flagged for Interference, but it appeared to at least three of us on the sideline that his timing on the hit was good. Jordan Sullen breaks up a pass intended for Isaiah Burse. This No. 3 unit is being run sloppy. 3 plays and 3 flags. Louis Young Intercepts a low pass by Dysert on the final snap. HORN.
Coach Fox tells the guys to make sure they are hydrated. After a short water break, the Special Teams Punt Return Unit goes to work. Isaiah Burse and Jordan Norwood field punts launched by the JUGG's machine and Julius Thomas even takes a rep. Former Denver Nuggets and CU Buffs star Chauncey Billups is a guest and Terrance Knighton walks over to say hello to him. Kevin Vickerson catches \up to him at the end of practice as well.
11 on 11's begin again with Montee Ball juggling the handoff. He quickly regains control and gets around the corner for 4 yards. His next play is a run up the middle for 2 yards. Peyton Manning's hard count draws DeMarcus Ware offsides and draws shouts of a False start from the Defense. Kevin Vickerson even comes over and slaps the ref on the butt and hassles him. Manning hits Emmanuel Sanders and on the last rep for the "One's," Ronnie Hillman fumbles the toss from Manning.
With Brock Osweiler under Center, Hillman gets another carry and Marvin Austin throws him down in the backfield. Tight End Greg Latta limps off and I don't know if he returns or not. It didn't appear to be all that serious. There is a flag on the next play. Brock throws long to Jordan Norwood, who beats Omar Bolden for the catch. Kapri Bibbs catches a swing pass from Osweiler and is hit (sort of) by Lamin Barrow. T.J. Ward and Aqib Talib yell at the rookie, telling Lamin to "Hit him, don't jump on him." Jordan Sullen breaks up a long pass attempt for Isaiah Burse and then it's Zac Dysert's turn. Juwan Thompson runs for 4 yards. The next play is an overthrown pass on what looks like a mis-read between the QB and receiver. Dysert then tries to hit Bennie Fowler, but it is broken up by Charles Mitchell. HORN.
7 on 7's. Von Miller gets a few reps in this segment. Peyton hits Bubba Caldwell, Emmanuel Sanders and a deep ball to Wes Welker before dumping a pass off to Montee Ball. Peyton connects with Julius Thomas at the sideline and then Bennie Fowler. Fox tells the guys to "use good judgement" on the hitting force during practice. Brock Osweiler enters and attempts two consecutive passes to Gerell Robinson. Lamin Barrow pops the first one out and Louis Young is there with Barrow on the second incompletion. The third time's the charm though as Brock connects with Gerrell successfully. Dysert comes in and completes a pass to Isaiah Burse and then Cam Morrah makes a nice catch on a low pass. Zac dumps off to Juwan Thompson twice, one to each side on the next two plays and on the last rep Greg Hardin can't come up with the ball as he dives at the sideline. HORN.
11 on 11's begin with a Montee Ball run that gets stuffed in the middle by Terrance Knighton and Nate Irving. Ball gets a couple of yards on the ensuing play and I see Danny Trevathan rubbing his calf. I think he rubbed some dirt on it though because he didn't leave the field that I know of. Kayvon Webster and DeMarcus Ware apply enough immediate pressure on Peyton that forces Manning to throw it away. Ronnie Hillman makes a nice read in the hole and scampers for 5-6 yards. Brock Osweiler is in now and on the first rep, he draws Marvin Austin offsides. Kapri Bibbs gets facemasked on the next run. Osweiler is Intercepted by Tony Carter. The next play is a completion to Cody Latimer on a quick pass. Dysert comes in and hands off to Juwan Thompson, who pushes the pile at least 4 yards. Thompson catches a swing pass and is run out of bounds by David Bruton. Dysert passes to Isaiah Burse and the ball is either incomplete or fumbled. Regardless, Louis Young recovers and runs down field to finish the play. Peyton returns with the first unit. He hands `off to Hillman, but T.J. Ward won't let him get around the corner. Manning draws another offsides/neutral zone infraction on a hard count, Montee Ball gets a couple of yards on the ground on the next play and on the final snap of the segment, Manning throws incomplete to Ball. HORN.
Fox tells the guys to "Take a Swig" as the JUGG's machine is rolled into place and the Full Team Punt Return Unit gets some work against the Red Hats. Along with Jordan Norwood, Isaiah Burse and Wes Welker, Emmanuel Sanders and Julius Thomas also take turns fielding punts. When they run the full field drills, Isaiah Burse showed some good speed. He isn't as quick as Trindon Holliday, but maybe he reads the coverage well enough to help the return unit. He has a good burst though. The Special Teams coach is dogging one of the (rookie) players for not listening during the drill. When they do it again, the coach is running down field behind the Gunner's barking orders. Britton Colquitt takes a few live reps during this segment because, hey, they don't want to wear out the JUGG's machine on Day 3 when there are a lot more practice sessions to go. HORN.
11 on 11's. Peyton Manning completes a pair of passes to Emmanuel Sanders, who is matched up with Aqib Talib. I see Kayvon Webster working as the slot Cornerback against Sanders on the next play. Manning hits Montee Ball and then the second unit rotates in. Osweiler hits Nathan Palmer and then C.J. Anderson picks up 3 yards. Hillman gets through the line or about 7 yards on the next snap. Brock throws wide incomplete intended for Greg Wilson. Kapri Bibbs falls in the hole and loses a yard. Zac Dysert is in now and he completes a pass to Cam Morrah. Dysert has to tuck and run the next one due to pressure and his intended target being covered. Zac to Burse broken up by a hit from Louis Yong and there's the final HORN.
John Elway comes over to chat with Chauncey Billups and I see Ron Zappolo with them. I speak later with Zappolo and he says he is only semi retired and will be calling a few games this season. I listen in on Jack Del Rio's press interview and he talks about Camp, the hitting and Von Miller among other things.
"You want to be smart on how you work. We understand it's Bronco on Bronco."
On Training Camp:
"Until you put the pads on, Camp doesn't start. Yeah it's started now."
On Von Miller:
"No question Von will be ready to roll. Greek and the staff have been during a fantastic job with him."
On Rahim Moore:
"Rahim is during real well. He's 100% and moving well."
On Brandon Marshall and Lerentee McCray having been in the building last season:
"B. Marsh and McCray are in a good position for backup spots. There are a few others in the mix as well."
Tomorrow's practice is the first of three at the Stadium. Maybe I will see you there.
-- Kaptain Kirk