On a spur of moment kind of deal, I decided to attend the training camp practice at Sports Authority Field today. The crowd figured to be small-especially for a middle of the week practice. I was right as at least half of the lower bowl remained empty. Most people either sat within the first five rows of the field or at the very back of the lower level to gain shelter from the rain. Me? I decided to sit in the elements baby, right along the 20 yard line on the Southwest side of the field. By 11:30 I was soaked and 2nd guessing my decision, but sucked it up and used the clear plastic bag that was given to me as I entered to shield my mini-notebook to take notes.
There was no DeMarcus Ware who is still nursing a bone bruise. Demaryius Thomas was on the field and participated in walkthroughs and individual non-contact drills. He was not in pads. Chris Harris Jr. was in pads and participated in walkthroughs. Von Miller participated in drills and was limited during contact.
As far as the offensive line, your pecking order at center is Manny Ramirez, Will Montgomery, and Matt Paradis. At right tackle it appears to be Clark, Justice, Schofield. At safety behind starters Rahim Moore and TJ Ward, is Duke Ihenacho and David Bruton. Quinton Carter seems to have the upper hand after that. I will explain his situation clearer later on as it isn't as simple as calling him the 5th guy down the line.
The running back situation is hard to guage but for the most part I broke it down into tier one and tier two guys. Tier one (behind Montee Ball) is CJ Anderson and Ronnie Hillman. In fact those are probably your three in order. Tier two guys are Bibbs, Brennan, and Thompson.
At tight end behind the three of Thomas, Green, and Tamme is Cam Morrah. I noticed him on the field much more than Gerrell Robinson, who still looks like a WR to me.
With the defensive line Terrance Knighton and Sylvester Williams are your starters followed by Marvin Austin. From there it is too early to tell with Vickerson coming off of injury, though for right now I would pencil in Fua and Unrein as your 3rd rotation. Quanterus Smith looks to be Ware's backup even with the emergence of Kenny Aninuke.
At linebacker your backup SAM is Lerentee McCray, your coverage linebacker at the moment is Brandon Marshall. Still hard to tell much else from the rotations as some saw time with the 1's/2's and some with the 2's/3's.
Kayvon Webster is ahead of Roby at corner and both Omar Bolden and Tony Carter saw time as a tandem with the 2's. Don't mistake that as meaning they are backups, they are still down the line at the 4th and 5th spots.
The kicker they brought into camp is just a camp leg. His leg is no where near as impressive as Matt Prater and he missed his only attempt at the end of practice.
Personnel and Groups
Editor's note: We're not allowed to go in-depth on reporting personnel and tactics during training camp; hopefully these intentionally-cryptic nuggets will satisfy.
On offense, what interested me was the use of some three tight end sets. When the Broncos aren't in 11 or 12 personnel, they have a lot of talented, versatile guys in the Thomases, Virgil Green, and Jacob Tamme. Just speculation, but this is something we might see in the redzone especially near the goalline this year.
Defensively the Broncos are able to get pretty creative with the talents that T.J. Ward and Quinton Carter bring to the table, something I've talked about before. The Broncos love versatility, and you may see guys like them move positions or sub-in as the game situation dictates.
By far the most exciting drills were the DB's vs. the WR's one on one with each QB getting a shot to throw the rock and the S/LB vs. the RB/TE. Here are some of the standout plays from those drills:
- Danny Trevathan with great coverage on CJ Anderson out of the backfield. Sticks to his man and keeps the gain minimal to pass out on the flat.
- Jacob Tamme beats Louis Young down the seam but the pass is too high
- Lerentee McCray shuts a checkdown to CJ Anderson, McCray is quick and decisive, wraps up for a good tackle.
- Bruton with blanket coverage on Jameson Konz.
- Steven Johnson deflects a pass intended for Kapri Bibbs
- Rahim Moore with blanket coverage on Gerrell Robinson
- Cam Morrah draws a pass interference call against Charles Mitchell, great shoulder fake by Morrah
- Virgil Green beats David Bruton down the seam and outruns him
- Rahim Moore knocks ball away from Gerrell Robinson at last instant
- Omar Bolden with good coverage on a deep dig by Bubba Caldwell
- Talib deflects a pass to Emmanuel Sanders
- Oz completes two gorgeous fade routes, first is to Greg Wilson against Rahim Moore, 2nd is to Cody Latimer against Kayvon Webster.
7 on 7's
Manning to Ball, checkdown
Manning to Caldwell on 10 yard out
Manning to Welker on deep cross
Manning to Welker on curl
Manning to Latimer deep down the sideline against Webster and Moore double coverage. This was the most beautiful pass thrown by Manning on the day. Perfectly placed ball for about a 30-35 yard gain.
Oz to Greg Wilson on short out
Oz to Gerrell Robinson back shoulder down the seam
Oz to Jordan Norwood on a WR screen
Oz incomplete to Bennie Fowler with Louis Young in coverage
Both the 1st and 2nd team offenses played out a situation in which the offense was down 4 points with 1:10 left from their own 40 yardline and timeout. Peyton Manning was picked off by Kayvon Webster who was covering the slot against Wes Welker running a crossing route. It was a combination of great coverage and recognition by Webster and Peyton Manning trying to thread a needle he shouldn't have. This was the play of practice from my point of view and would have been a touchdown for the defense.
The 2nd team fared much better. I'll talk more about Brock Osweiler, but his decision making was pretty good until the end. First he hit Tamme on a deep cross to the 41. A couple of shorter throws later they were at the 23 yardline with about 26 seconds left. Here's where the inexperience came in. Without a timeout, he hit a short checkdown over the middle. That left him with the decision to spike the ball and bring up a 4th and long or take a quick shot on 3rd down to the endzone or down the sideline. Brock sat and watched the clock tick down as he attempted a deep fade that was deflected by Tony Carter.
Later on the team was at the 20. Manning took a kneel down then spiked the ball to give Prater the opportunity at a game winning 39 yard field goal. Plenty of leg but missed wide left.
Same scenario with the two's, but Mitch Ewald missed wide right.
On Prater's 2nd attempt at it, he drilled it right down the middle from 40.
I spent a lot of time watching Oz even during warmups. He throws the best ball on the team. The spiral is tight, he's able to drive with velocity outside the numbers and down the field. His placement and accuracy is much improved, the ball seems to be making it to the numbers most often and he is giving his receivers the opportunity to run after the catch. He still has that weird 3/4 looking release, but it is still quick and comes out at about ear level. His windup seems shorter on the backend. Overall there is no question to me who the backup is. Brock is clearly ahead of Dysert at the moment.
Stars of Practice
Bronco Mike for sitting out in the rain to bring you this coverage. All joking aside, Kayvon Webster looked good covering Wes Welker. He even got a sack on Manning with a corner blitz during the situational drill. Sylvester Williams sacked Manning after slicing into the backfield with one of the quickest first steps I've seen. I believe he beat Orlando Franklin on the play. Cody Latimer looks good as well. I was very impressed with how smooth he his running routes and how well he controls his body. Bubba Caldwell also got separation deep down the field on a couple of occasions.
The running game does not look very impressive, especially inside. There was next to no room running between the tackles, although there were some nice runs when bounced outside the tackle box. Some of this could be due to the poor footing. The defensive line was able to get the interior linemen moving on skates.
The Kaptain was in the house
Kaptain Kirk came and sat by me for the 2nd half of practice when the rain started to calm a bit. Expect a great report from him briefly. Until then, it was good to see my friend once again!