As rough as Tuesday's melee-filled practice session was, today it was all business for the Denver Broncos in their next-to-last training camp practice. Early on, as the players filtered out of the locker room in full pads, I spy RB C.J.Anderson in full regalia, just one week removed from concussion-like symptoms. Other than Greg Latta and Chase Vaughn still being sidelined and Montee Ball and Danny Trevathan's known absence, the team has as full a squad as the first day of camp. Ball is out on the field during a bit more conditioning than previous reports, so I'd say he is progressing well.
Alumni Mark Schlereth and David Treadwell are the celebrity guests today as the punting unit of special teams gets their work in today. The usual three players are fielding punts launched by the JUGG's machine. After the first HORN, the offense and defense split fields and do their walkthrough preparations for San Francisco.
The team stretch segment kicks off with "Everybody was Kung Fu fighting" and I'm thinking that is coach Fox's innuendo for the players to keep their emotions in check. That seems to be the theme of the day because while the tempo was a little lower, practice was methodical and business-like in it's entirety and without one scuffle. Other musical selections today included "Stolen Dance," "Dangerous," "Small Town Throwdown," "Come With Me Now," "Jungle," "Black Widow," "Dark Horse," and "Wild Life." HORN.
As the individual position drills begin, I resolve to focus on who will take over the WILL linebacker position for the next month and a half while Danny Trevathan rehabs his cracked tibia? Will it be Brandon Marshall? Lamin Barrow or even Corey Nelson? An even better question will be, who has the "Green Dot" on defense?
My gut tells me that Marshall will do a better than reasonable job filling in for Danny T. As to who will assume the role of defensive quarterback, only time will tell. That specific job may even change each week of the preseason until the roles are stabilized and set. For certain it will need to be a 3-down player, so my thought is Rahim Moore. Rahim is one of the longest tenured Bronco defenders and he has been assuming the leadership role. Otherwise I would venture to guess that T.J. Ward might be tabbed for that role. One thing's for sure, I'm glad the hard decisions aren't mine. HORN.
Bruno Mars "Locked out of Heaven" blares through the loudspeaker at the north end of the facility and coach Fox signals that he wants it louder for crowd simulations during the team drills. Brantley Gilbert's "Small Town Hoedown" is the next track up and I see Kevin Vickerson and DeMarcus Ware playing ‘air guitar." I notice Brandon Marshall and Corey Nelson doing well in run support. Then part of the team moves to run 7 on 7's and the linemen work one on one passing drills with friendly competitiveness, but no melees. HORN.
Most of the team drills were situational packages in preparation for Sunday's contest. The team worked efficiently and appeared to accomplish their goal for the day. "I'm Getting Drunk On A Plane" by Dierks Bentley is the next song after a hip hop type melody. It seems that the musical score has been adjusted to keep everyone happy, but maybe that's just me. HORN.
The temperature gets into the 90's during the last hour of practice. Matt Prater only has one miss on field goal attempts ranging from 39-61 yards. On one, a mid-range attempt, he dings the tower at the south end of the field, narrowly missing the cameraman, who wipes his brow in relief. Mitch Ewald has a pretty good outing as well. He definitely has a leg. HORN.
Things that stood out today
Aqib Talib and Andre Caldwell battled to a tie in one on one passing drills. Bubba caught a touchdown pass and Talib got an interception. Julius Thomas had a nice one-handed catch to his back shoulder and Jordan Norwood caught a TD pass from Brock Osweiler. Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson each had a couple of nice runs, and C.J. looked pretty smooth to me after having a week off. Demaryius Thomas skied high for a catch over Bradley Roby, even though the rookie was blanketing DT. Osweiler and Jacob Tamme had a nice pitch-catch in the seam on one team drill.
A positive note on the Broncos 1st round pick
Bradley Roby has been sticking with the receivers he is covering. That has been especially notable lately. He is also willing and productive in run support. I couldn't say how much he's progressed, but I have seen some change for the good and I like what I see.
Head coach John Fox on having C.J. Anderson back at practice:
"He went through the normal concussion protocol. Obviously, player safety is our number one priority and he's been cleared and we'll ease him back into it."
Running back C.J. Anderson on how he felt at practice:
"Sluggish. I mean, I've been off as far as conditioning. Headache and all that, all that's done. I've got a new helmet. It's brand new, so I'm trying to break it in. Kind of tight at times, but I feel fine and you don't miss a beat. I don't think they're easing me back in because "E" (RB's coach Eric Studesville was killing me today (laughing). So a little sluggish, just got to get back in shape because I've been off six, seven days. Just have to keep working."
On getting hit today:
"I got hit plenty of times today and it felt OK. Felt fine. The helmet's working perfect and my head is still here and I remembered the next play, I remembered that play, and from there you just go on and play football."
Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio on if QB Peyton Manning and WR Demaryius Thomas teach tough lessons to his young defense:
"I don't know if there's a lesson there, but just keep doing everything you can and even when you do, there might be an occasion when a Hall of Fame quarterback and an outstanding Pro bowl receiver hook up anyway. That coverage was as good as it could be and it was just a perfect throw. Every now and then that happens in this league and I think you learn that as a younger player."
Offensive coordinator Adam Gase on WR Cody Latimer's development:
"He's making strides forward. Obviously when you're a rookie, it's not so easy, especially in our offense working on the hand signals and code words. It's just a lot. It's different than what he's been in, but I would say he's heading in the right direction. We just have to keep working him and see how far we can bring him in the preseason."
Defensive tackle Marvin Austin on preparation for this weekend:
"Come in here and get better. [We have] a big game ahead of us and I just want to make sure I'm ready and make sure, as far as the D-Line, we play fast, physical and have fun."
Safety Duke Ihenacho on the team's depth at safety:
"We have a lot of good players. So you kind of just have to get in where you fit in. Guys are working hard and guys are fighting for spots, and fighting to get on the depth chart however they can. The coaches are doing a good job of moving us around and making sure everybody can contribute, so that's why you see a lot of different packages and guys moving in and out of certain packages, You kind of just have to take it and so far it is going well."
The Broncos next (and last) practice will be Friday morning at 8:50 am.
- Kaptain Kirk