I arrive at the Stadium a bit later then I planned, but I'm still there before the players show up in the team bus. I say hello to old friend (okay acquaintance) Ron Egloff and the Limo Driver before assembling with the masses in pursuit of player autographs. I am hoping to get Chris Harris to sign one of his "CH25" ball caps that I purchased from his site, but it wasn't meant to be. The guys debark from the bus and head straight into the stadium without one autograph being signed. At that point, it's time to enter the venue and find a seat.
It’s about 11:30 when I sit down at the top of the lower bowl in a fold-up Handicap seat. I’m at the south side 20 yard line on the west side of the stadium. Most of the players have already taken the field and began to loosen up. Von Miller emerges from the Southwest corner to a round of cheers. The crowd isn’t as large as the Summer Scrimmage last year, but by the end of the event, the entire lower bowl is close to being filled in. I’m told there were nearly 22,000 fans in attendance, which really, is pretty good considering Training Camp is closed to the public this Summer.
To my surprise, the players are in Full pads today. I didn’t think they would go two days in a row in full pads. Especially since they were hitting pretty good and mostly working on the Running game. This is yet another testament to Mr. Bowlen’s legacy in running a class organization. I can’t remember a time when a fanbase was taken into such consideration in many of the club’s decisions. It sure is evident to me. I mean, they are spending major funds to expand their Training Facility and add more seating for the fans to access the players. Some may think that holding two additional stadium practices as a polite offering may not be enough, I’d agree with that, but no one was turned away at today’s practice, which tells me it is enough to appease the fans. I will say this though, if you are able to, Wednesday’s Stadium practice may only draw little more than 10-12,000 fans. If you can make it out, the chances are extremely good for getting multiple autographs after practice. The players signed today afterward and I expect them to do so on Wednesday and at the Summer Scrimmage on Saturday, where the 44,000 that showed up last year, may very well be eclipsed. HORN.
I am expecting an aerial display for the fans today, but we’ll see. The players spread out into two separate groups at opposing 30 yard lines. The 1st-team Offense and Defense are at the North 30, and the 2nd units are at the southern 30 yard line for the Walkthrough segment of practice. Since I am closer to the "Two’s," they get more of my attention. However, the crowd cheers as Wes Welker catches a pass from Peyton Manning in the end zone. I saw the catch, but turn and get to see the replay on the Stadium’s Big Screen. HORN.
Julius Thomas finds a microphone and welcomes the fans. He tells us how the players greatly miss the fans at Camp, that they are appreciated and thanks them for coming out today. He finishes with a GO BRONCOS!
This starts the team stretch off and various songs play in the duration. Nothing that stands out, just filler stuff. I notice that John Boyett, Greg Latta and Jameson Konz aren’t practicing today. I never spotted Chris Harris, but since he has a scheduled appointment with the Doctor tomorrow to see if he can fully participate, it doesn’t phase me one bit. After the stretching is complete, the players do their customary Huddle and then break into their individual position drills for 20 minutes. After that, the Red Hats come out and each group practices against them. In the Red Zone at the North side, Wide Receivers are running fade routes into the endzone frp Peyton Manning and the crowd is pleased.
Over where the players enter the field in the southwest corner, I notice John Elway and Joe Ellis standing there. When the crowd notices him, he walks down the sideline towards the players bench to Rocky Mountain Thunder and a standing ovation. Elway acknowledges the crowd with a wave and things simmer down shortly after that. That was a nice tribute by the fans.
The scripted part of practice begins next. They would be running 7 on 7’s except only half of the seven are working. We’ll just call it 4 on 4’s with a Quarterback added. On the first snap, Brock Osweiler goes deep to Greg Hardin, who makes a nice diving catch between two defenders. Later on, Zac Dysert hits Gerell Robinson, who juggles the ball before making the grab while lying on his back. Brock Osweiler finds Julius Thomas on a crossing route and on the next play, Virgil Green is targeted. The pass goes incomplete and Virgil calls for a flag on Jordan Sullen but is left wanting.HORN.
Now 7 on 7’s begin. Peyton Manning hits Andre Caldwell depp between Rahim Moore and Aqib Talib. A tough play, but Bubba comes up with the catch. Manning hits Emmanuel Sanders in stride on a crossing route and then it’s Osweiler’s turn. Brock throws a swing pass to Gerell Robinson, who makes the catch, but slips on his cutback. I find out much later after watching some players having traction difficulties, that the Manchester United-AS Roma soccer match was last night and the field preparations for soccer and football games are different.
Osweiler connects with Jordan Norwood on a nice pass down the seam past Omar Bolden. Zac Dysert hits Cam Morrah. Then Bennie Fowler slips mid-route and Charles Mitchell dives but can’t come up with the pick. On the final snap, Greg Wilson gives up on the play and the pass falls incomplete. HORN.
9 on 7’s at the North end and Wide Receiver/Defensive Back 1 on 1’s at the South end. Cody Latimer catches a fade from Brock Osweiler against Louis Young. At the other end, Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball both rip off back to back 15+ yard runs to the crowds delight. Back to the other end, the DB’s are getting the best of the Receivers. All that changes when Peyton Manning switches with the other Quarterbacks. Emmanuel Sanders makes the first catch, working against Aqib Talib. Omar Bolden gets the best of Bubba Caldwell. Wes Welker burns Tony Carter right at the Goal Line. Manning’s next throw is a touch too long for Sanders, who is still working against Talib. Bolden beats Caldwell once again and then Julius Thomas beats T.J. Ward with an awesome back shoulder pass by Manning. Welker gets the best of Carter again and the Sanders/Talib matchup gets nullified by a hand battle and the ball falls incomplete. Andre Caldwell beats Jerome Murphy and then Peyton and Julius Thomas mis-read the break and as the HORN sounds, Jacob Tamme beats Rahim Moore.
Red Zone drills begin with a Manning pass for Montee Ball that the Running Back tips back to himself and makes the catch. T.J. Ward breaks up the next pass which is a slant. I don’t see who it was intended for and the Defensive players on the sideline are complaining about what I perceive is a flag on the play. Peyton throws a fade to Wes Welker for a Touchdown. Brock Osweiler hands off to Ronnie Hillman, who gets stuffed up the middle. Then Osweiler hooks up with his college teammate and favorite target, Gerell Robinson on a late pass to the endzone. Brock throws the ball away on the next snap and C.J. Anderson scores on a decisive run from 5 yards out. Zac Dysert hits Cam Morrah for a score and then completes a short pass to Greg Wilson, who winds his way into the endzone. After a neutral zone infraction on the Defensive Line is enforced, one of the Linemen gets even by tipping the ball at the Line of Scrimmage. On the final play of this segment, Dysert runs the Read-Option, fakes the handoff to Juwan Thompson and runs in for the score. HORN.
After a five minute water break, the Special Teams Unit is separated into a few groups with the coverage unit closing in on the returner and shedding the last blocker. Matt Prater makes and misses a few kicks from 50 yards out. None of them were short though. Then the kickoff team has a few reps against air (without a return team). HORN.
7 on 7’s at the south end Red Zone begin with Manning throwing a jump ball for Julius Thomas in the back of the end zone. The ref says the play was out of bounds, but it was an excellent attempt. Manning throws a short pass to Virgil Green, who beats Nate Irving and turns it upfield and into the end zone for a score. Julius tries to cutback in the end zone against Bradley Roby, but the rookie makes a good play on the ball and knocks it away. Manning throws again for Julius Thomas, but it’s broken up by T.J. Ward. Brock Osweiler and Cody Latimer connect for a score. Brock throws one up for Gerell Robinson, but Duke Ihenacho and Brandon Marshall break it up. Then Osweiler throws late in the back of the end zone for Bennie Fowler, but its’ broken up by Quinton Carter.Brock throws late again for Fowler incomplete. Zac Dysert tries to connect with Greg Hardin and it’s batted down by Jordan Sullen. Dysert throws complete to Cody Latimer, who spins away from the defender and runs it into the endzone.Zac throws short to Brennan Clay who runs in for the score. HORN.
11 on 11’s start up at the southside 25 yard line. Peyton Manning throws a fade to Julius Thomas for a score, beating Kayvon Webster. That pass was right on the money.From the 10, Manning completes a short pass to Bubba Caldwell, who goes out of bounds at the 1 yard line. The pocket collapses on the next play and it appears that Malik Jackson and Sione Fua knock Peyton down. I don’t think it was intentional at all. There were a lot of bodies around and Manning may have just ran out of places to step.
From the 5 yard line, Ronnie Hillman runs up the middle and gets down to the 2 yard line. Brock comes in and throws a Touchdown pass to Jacob Tamme. The ball comes out (whether dead or not) and Duke Ihenacho picks it up and runs a few yards. They try the same play again and Steven Johnson breaks it up this time. The pocket collapses on the next play, backing Osweiler up about 10 yards before he throws it away. Then Brock tosses a shovel pass to Virgil Green that goes nowhere. Dysert comes in and can’t connect with Kapri Bibbs. Zac rolls out to the right to buy time on the next snap, but runs out of room and safely throws it away. A failure to communicate causes Dysert’s next pass, intended for Isaiah Burse, to fall incomplete. The last play is a nice fade to Greg Hardin for a Touchdown. HORN.
The Kick Coverage unit works against the Red Hats. Isaiah Burse and Jordan Norwood both return their reps out past the 30 yard line. I miss most of this segment trying to get my Lemonade refilled. The concession crew make City Workers look good. HORN.
The last segment is an 11 on 11 set. The ball is on the 15 yard line and the Offense moving toward midfield. Kayvon Webster breaks up a Manning pass intended for Andre Caldwell, but there is a flag against the Defense on the other side of the field, which creates a 1st down for the Offense. Montee Ball takes off around the right side and runs through to the second level. His next run goes to the right, but ods only good for a few yards. Manning tries for a dump off pass, but ends up throwing it away at the feet of the intended receiver. Brock comes in and makes a decisive pass to a streaking Cody Latimer down the seam, but the rookie drops it. The next play is an end around for Latimer, but the rookie doesn’t get to showcase his speed because of a sloppy exchange between Osweiler and himself. Someone missed a blocking assignment on the Defensive End too. Dysert hits Jacob Tamme. Juwan Thompson lumbers for 6 yards and then picks up 2 more on a draw play.Then Dysert connects on a deep pass to Isaiah Burse fpr a Touchdown and the final HORN sounds.
There were some good and some things that still need to be worked out, but this is Day 4 of Training Camp. The team showcased some drills (like the Red Zone plays) specifically for the fans and there were more passing than running plays. That too was by design.
Bradley Roby had a nice pass breakup in the endzone, which was nice to see and Cody Latimer got some good work in as well. Brock Osweiler can be very decisive at times and at other times, he holds on to the ball too long. I like decisive Brock a lot. It showed he has progressed, which is what we all want to see from Peyton’s backup. Emmanuel Sanders, T.J. Ward and Kayvon Webster each had good outings as well.
I’m looking forward to getting back in the shade tomorrow morning. Until then...
-- Kaptain Kirk