Denver Broncos Head Coach Gary Kubiak is bringing some new philosophies to the practice field. He is planning on spending "at least one day a week" with the "other guys" and giving the veterans some rest. He plans on doing this during the OTAs and possibly during Training Camp.
"I want to practice at least one day with those other guys sitting because I just think it’s important. You’ll probably see some of that in training camp, too. I think the NFL season is a long grind. How you go about keeping guys healthy is a tough deal and a tough assignment. Also how you go about getting young guys involved with your team—the only way I know how to do that is give them practice time."
This means players like backup quarterback Brock Osweiler will be getting more reps than they were getting in the past.
With 14-time Pro Bowl quarterback Peyton Manning among the many starters getting the day off, this meant Osweiler was in charge of the team. Kubiak wants to see how Osweiler and Zac Dysert react in this situation and to see if they improve from their previous struggles.
"I know a lot about those other players, you know what I mean? I’m trying to really rep those other guys. I’m also trying to see how Brock reacts and how Zac reacts when they take the football team and they get it for a day. Last week, that day that we did, it wasn’t very good. Today it was actually pretty good. I liked the tempo of practice. There are always mistakes, but we practiced a lot better with our young players today than we did last week."
These are some valuable reps for Osweiler. He's been behind Peyton Manning since he's been drafted and has had limited snaps because of this. So these reps are pretty exciting for Osweiler.
First of all, I absolutely love it. I’m getting more reps than I’ve ever gotten as a Bronco. Peyton is out and I split time with Zac. I’m getting twice what I usually get. It’s very valuable to a new player, and especially in a new offense. You can only study so much in the classroom. You need to get out to the grass and you need to go out there and run those plays. The more reps you can get, the better you’re going to be."
Playing under center just isn't new to Peyton Manning, it's new to Osweiler. He played in a spread offense at Arizona State and has played mostly from the shotgun/pistol formations while in Denver. So playing under center is a learning process for Osweiler too.
He has been taking snaps from under center the last few practices, and so far he says it's "good, and he likes it." He's getting the ball quicker and making some reads more quickly from under center than he did from the gun.
One thing that Kubiak is teaching the backups is to read with their feet and how they hitch.
"It entails everything. Everything about this offense—your feet tie into your progression. You guys have probably seen a coach on us pretty good about that. It’s telling you on one hitch the ball should be going here. If you’re taking one, you should be moving to here. If you’re taking two, you should be moving to here. Once again, it’s one of those newer things. I think it’s going to be a really great thing in the long run."
Kubiak says that Osweiler is "responding" and that the thing he likes most about him is that he listens to the coaches and corrects the mistakes he made in prior practices.
The Broncos and the new coaching staff need to see what they have in Osweiler during the summer practices. They need to find out if they're ready to offer him a contract extension and move forward with him at quarterback, or if they need to look elsewhere next season.
I really like this philosophy from Kubiak. The prior coaching staff didn't give the younger players this type of opportunity. Veteran players would get a day off here and there, but not to this extent. When Chris Harris Jr., Peyton Manning, Von Miller, Emmanuel Sanders, Aqib Talib, Louis Vasquez, T.J. Ward, DeMarcus Ware, Ryan Harris and Owen Daniels all sit out a practice, it gives guys who need the extra reps the reps they need.
"I’ve always believed in doing it. I’m probably doing it more in the past after I was in Baltimore last year and we did it quite a bit. We had some young guys step up and play really well for us, especially up front last year. I find myself in kind of the same situation up front. We’ve got to get those guys going."
The past coaching staff had some issues with getting the younger guys going (such as Schofield and Latimer last season), and General Manager John Elway mentioned this during his end of the season press conference. So it's no surprise to see Kubiak and the Broncos focusing on this during the offseason program.
I hope it gets the younger guys, especially the offensive line, going this season.