The last day of the 2014 Denver Broncos training camp brings a sense of finality for me. Camp has been good and even better that I had the opportunity to work the sidelines as a credentialed member of the media. It is an experience I am unlikely to forget anytime soon.
The weather cooperates and the temperature is somewhat cooler than some of the earlier practices. As I chart the player attendance this morning, I have the opportunity to ask one of the questions I have been getting often, "When will the remodeling be finished at Dove Valley?" The response I obtained from Patrick Smythe was mid-October to mid-November. Regardless, the facility will be open to the public for the 2015 training camp schedule. Better yet, there will be ample room for optimal viewing, but no shade. HORN.
Montee Ball and Emmanuel Sanders (strained quad) are in shorts, but without helmets and will not participate in practice today. Besides Danny Trevathan (tibia), Greg Latta (hip) and Chase Vaughn (knee) are out. Virgil Green(calf strain) and Marvin Austin (slight wrist sprain) were held out of the final period as a precaution. Rumored to be among the visitors are members from the Colorado Rockies and the Cincinnati Reds, who apparently have a weekend series at Coors field beginning. I wouldn't know, I'm a football fan. HORN.
The music begins at the onset of the team stretch period and today's mix has some Metal, Country, rap, rhythm and blues as well as hip hop. From Metallica's "Master of Puppets and cover of "Whiskey in the Jar' to Foo Fighters "Walk." The Outfield's "I don't wanna lose your love," Tim McGraw's "I miss back when", Gary Allan's "Right where I belong", Macklemore's "Thrift Shop", "Wake Me Up" by Avicii, Eminem's "Real Slim Shady", Ludacris' "Get Back Get Back You Don't Know Me Like That", U2's "Elevation", James Brown's "Papa's got a brand new bag" a quick medley including Haddaway's "What is Love" and Hammer's "2 Legit 2 Quit". The final camp song ends up being "Buffalo Soldier" by Bob Marley. HORN.
THE GREEN DOT
Yesterday I speculated on which defensive player would have the "Green Dot," the helmet with the speaker for Jack Del Rio to call in plays to. With Danny Trevathan's injury, someone needs to assume that role. I heard an interview with Nate Irving that he wants that job. He also stated that he knows the hand signals. Mike Klis wrote about it this morning, but I was unable to read it because it was behind a subscription wall. I spoke to Mike and he said it will end up going to Brandon Marshall, whether he is ready for it or not. I also heard T.J. Ward say that part of his job is to help relay calls to the defensive backfield, so really, this isn't such a big issue as some have made it out to be.
This training camp has been different than the last 4 or 5 years I have attended. The obvious difference of course, has been the absence of fans. I think overall, that has been a good thing. The facility will have an improved spectator area for 2015's camp. The players really missed the fans this year because they are used to performing before a crowd and they feed off of the fans energy. It definitely gets them pumped up. But overall, I believe the lack of spectators this year has made the player's focus intently on achieving their goal for this season. The expectation is a Lombardi trophy at season's end, but you won't find any Bronco player talking about it or assuming it will happen outside the locker room. Furthermore, they have been going about the business of accomplishing just that in earnest. This camp has been the most intense, uptempo, no-nonsense, business-like affair I've seen out of this organization. So in a way, the absence of an audience may just be the thing that was needed in order to keep that determination on target.
The special teams kickoff and return unit got their work in today, including blocking and coverage. The JUGG's machine launched kicks to the same players that have been taking reps each practice. During team drills, much of the focus was on a multitude of situational scenarios that I cannot report on, because they were in preparation for Sunday's inaugural game in Levi's Stadium against the 49ers.
THINGS THAT STOOD OUT
With Emmanuel Sanders getting the day off, rookie receiver Cody Latimer's workload saw an increase. Ronnie Hillman and C.J.Anderson ran well. Jameson Konz got some extra work. Brennan Clay had an impressive run today and Tony Carter had an interception, as did Lamin Barrow. Andre Caldwell and Juwan Thompson each caught touchdown passes and Quanterus Smith had a sack. Peyton Manning looked sharp with his receivers, especiallyWes Welker and Demaryius Thomas. Jordan Norwood made an impressive catch and Demaryius caught a fade in the end zone against Bradley Roby.
Head coach John Fox on if WR Emmanuel Sanders will play Sunday:
"I don't know. We just take it a day at a time. We thought the smart thing to do was to hold him out of practice today so we will see what tomorrow brings."
On if he's worried about Sanders not playing:
"We worry about everything. He's progressed well and I like the way the whole team is progressing actually. We had a good day's practice today even though it was our last practice of camp. I thought the guys were focused and did an excellent job."
Tight end Virgil Green on lining up for run plays:
"In this league, it's a lot of technique. In college, I could get away with strength. In the NFL you can't really get away with stuff like that because the guy across from you is bigger and stronger than you. So you have to rely a lot on technique there. You can also try to get better at technique. You're never a master at technique. You can always be better."
Running back Juwan Thompson on the competition now that C.J.Anderson is back at practice:
"At the end of the day, I still have to focus on me and do my job when it's time for me to go out there. I can't focus on anyone else. All I can do is motivate them and they motivate me. At the end of the day, I have to make sure I'm during my job first."
On how first-team reps with QB Peyton Manning have helped him:
"It helped me a lot. You're not prepared for everything yet. There's still a lot of stuff that we haven't put in that can come up at the end of the day, so there's still a learning curve. You just want to be [prepared at any given time when Peyton throws anything at you. At the end of the day, I can just ask him, so that I feel 100% guaranteed about what I'm during out there."
Tight end Jacob Tamme on his overall impression of camp:
"I think we've come out with a good, business-like attitude every day. Guys are flying around; we've had a lot of good practices so far. Overall, it's just about coming out every day; the challenge is now to go out. We've got a practice tomorrow and we're going to go out to San Francisco and get a chance to play in another game and then next week, obviously, we've got Houston coming in and that's something a lot of us have never done before. That will be fun having them be here and getting the chance to mix it up with somebody different. Normally in training camp this time of year, even though we are breaking camp, it's still sort of a training camp mode. We're not in preparation mode every week for an opponent. To have Houston come in next week will be good but I think right now we're just trying to get to San Francisco and be able to go out with our second preseason game and be able to make some plays. It's going to be a good challenge."
I'm really going to miss this terrific opportunity to be on the sidelines at camp and my experience here and in the press box on game day was awesome as well. Training camp is pretty much my favorite time of football season anyway. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy every single game and take them one at a time, but being present where the roster is made, the team comes together and the foundation for the new season is built pales in comparison. The reason is simple.Training camp is where I've learned the most about player evaluation and that makes the game more interesting. For me at least.
I am unsure what the future holds, but [Broncos VP of Public Relations] Patrick Smyth has extended a welcome hand for next year if both of us are around. And while some of my reports have been less detailed, I believe that we have made some progress.
- Kaptain Kirk