Good morning, Broncos Country!
In the iconic words of Jim Ross, “It’s gonna be a slobberknocker.”
The goal for the Denver Broncos is to not get carried away and beat the holy hell out of each other. The first day of training camp is always exciting, but few days in the offseason bring as much emotion as the first padded practice. This is the first time the players will put the pads on since the 2016 season ended.
So when fans arrive at the UCHealth Training Center today, expect a show.
“I always say, ‘When you put the pads on, that’s the difference between the boys and the men.’ So, we’re going to see who the men are,” Emmanuel Sanders said after practice on Friday.
The first three days have been important to the development of the Broncos. Where they hope to get will come from the work they’ve put in. But when a player straps on those pads, it’s real. This is what football is all about. For all of the talk of where Denver is, this is their first test. Not only for the Broncos players, but the coaches and their evaluation.
“That’s huge because football is played in pads,” Broncos coach Vance Joseph said, as the emotion started rise. “When you evaluate the offensive line, it’s all about how physical you are, your fight back, your come off, your finish. With the defensive line, can a guy hold the point? Can he rush in pads? As far as that part, that’s a huge part of it.”
When a team straps on the pads for the first time, the testosterone gets a jolt of thousand volts. That is especially true for the guys in the trenches. They put the pads on and morph into Lyle Alzado.
“You don’t want to taper it too much,” Joseph said. “You want guys excited to play. Obviously, putting on pads for the first time is going to be exciting. It should be. It should be emotional because football is played in pads. I’m looking forward to that.”
The other big aspect to consider with the first padded practice is injuries. Remember, Ty Sambrailo injured his right elbow when Denver put on the pads last season. At this point, the Broncos can’t afford any more injuries. At the same point, when you play not to get injured, is when you get injured.
In both instances, players have to remain smart and keep their cool. View this as a game. If you lose your temper and do something stupid, you could cost your team. If training camp is meant to build recall and prepare for the season, this is no different.
“I’m a physical guy,” running back C.J. Anderson said. “If you’re in the way, I’m going to run into you. I haven’t had them on since October, so I definitely love to feel that feeling. I tell T.J. (Ward) and Darian (Stewart) give me a little bit more. Don’t give me a (Buffalo Bills fullback) Mike Tolbert game-like feel, but give me a little bit more. I tell them just give me a little bit more so I can feel that, so I can get used to my legs turning over and running through contact and doing some things that I haven’t done since October.”
Added guard Ronald Leary: “You just have to be smart with it. You expect to have some hard hits and contact, but you have to keep everybody off the ground. Just take care of your teammates. We’re enemies in camp, but during the season we all need each other.”
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