The Denver Broncos got back to work under voluntary OTA’s this week. Several of the veterans did not participate, so plenty of the younger players got some first-team reps on Monday.
Here are some of the highlight’s from Monday’s practice session.
Head coach Vance Joseph was asked about many of the veterans who were not in attendance at Monday’s practice sessions, which he downplayed being that the OTA sessions are voluntary.
“Is it a vet rest day?” Joseph said regarding the veterans not at practice. “No, those guys have been here all year. Not here today. It’s not mandatory so no big deal.”
There was one player who is nursing an injury that should be of great concern to all Broncos fans. Edge rusher Shane Ray has soreness and swelling in his left wrist. The same that sidelined him early last season and ultimately cause him to spend the end of the season on injured reserve.
“Shane’s got a sore wrist, so Shane is here,” Joseph said. “He’s got a sore wrist so he didn’t work today. Not a big deal for the guys who weren’t here. I think Von [Miller] missed today. I think ‘D.T.’ (Demaryius Thomas) had a personal matter and Emmanuel [Sanders] had a personal matter. It’s their time. We can’t take roll. I’m not concerned about it. They’ve been here all year. We’re good. We coached the guys that were here today.”
Rookie wide receivers get some first team reps
Both Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton saw first-team reps as veterans Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders took the day off. The experience was good and both players impressed.
“So far so good with those two guys—‘14’ (Courtland Sutton) and ‘17’ (DaeSean Hamilton) are very mature football players,” Vance Joseph said after practice on Monday. “Obviously, those two guys (Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders) missed. They (Sutton and Hamilton) pushed up to the first team and we didn’t miss a beat. That’s what you want. You want guys in each room who can play as a starter. I was very pleased with those two guys today.”
Sutton in particular figures to be a premier red zone option as a rookie, so getting chemistry with quarterback Case Keenum is going to be very important for him. So far the young rookie is listening well and paying attention to the details to gain Keenum’s trust on the football field.
“Every time I get a chance to get any type of reps it’s really nice because you’ve got to maximize every rep,” Sutton said. “To get those ‘one’ reps with Case [Keenum] is really important because you never know what can happen in a game and practice. In this league, it’s ‘next man up.’ You have to always be ready and always be prepared, and know what you’re supposed to do so that whenever something like this happens and they’re not here, we just have to step up and make sure that practice doesn’t go down. We just have to continue to get better and grow and take advantage of those reps with Case.”
Hamilton too got in on the action. Last week, Chris Harris Jr. was barely cognizant of Hamilton’s existence. That all changed in one play on Monday.
Last Week —— ƬΉΣ ӨЯΛПGΣ PΛGΣ (@theorangepage) June 4, 2018
When asked about rookie wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton, Chris Harris first asked Hamilton's number before stating that he only covers Demaryius and Emmanuel.
This Week —
Hamilton moves up to first-team, beats Harris on the first snap of the initial team period.
Okay, well maybe that is a slight exaggeration. Chris Harris Jr. provided some clarification on how badly he was beating by Hamilton on that play.
5 yard hitch y’all stop it lol— Chris Harris (@ChrisHarrisJr) June 5, 2018
Chad Kelly is getting high praise from his teammates
According to Andrew Mason’s report, Paxton Lynch had an up and down day. Meanwhile, Chad Kelly was doing some things. He tossed a touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver John Diarse in what was a great throw and an even greater catch.
Broncos worked on fourth-down scenarios inside the 25 from various distances — over the period, there were two TDs, both thrown by Chad Kelly — one to John Diarse, one to Jordan Leslie.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) June 4, 2018
Kelly then receiving some high praise from Diarse after practice noting the young quarterbacks strong leadership qualities and attention to detail - both things Lynch has struggled to master through his first three seasons.
“[He’s] somebody I can lean on,” Diarse said. “I have questions, and I have somebody I can confide in when a defense doesn’t look right. He’s doing a great job of leading us in that huddle.”
Let the $wag momentum continue to build. Many of us fans fully expect him to lock down the backup position behind Keenum by the time August rolls around.
Speaking of rookie John Diarse, he has made some plays and is a guy whose name keeps popping up in practice. Again, the pads aren’t on just yet, but this is when fringe roster guys need to start making themselves known to the coaches and veterans.
Was trying to take a picture of Carlos Henderson and John Diarse came out of nowhere for this grab pic.twitter.com/MJgzkdXnNH— Ryan Koenigsberg (@RyanKoenigsberg) June 4, 2018
Vance Joseph wants scheme to fit players
One thing I saw from the post-practice interviews was head coach Vance Joseph talking about developing players in OTA’s and beyond.
“I think having a plan for each player, that’s so important, especially when it comes to developing players,” Joseph said of scheme fit and developing young players. “System-wise, it’s got to fit all of us, but having a plan for each player, that’s important. We’ve got some young kids here that we want to see get better every day, so having drill work for those guys and having homework for those guys is so important. Our system right now, it’s really good on both sides of the ball. I’ve been impressed both coordinators and how they’ve incorporated everybody’s skill set. It’s been easy learning for both sides so it’s been fun.”
This seemed like a departure from previous years and could be an exciting development with this coaching staff if they are able to scheme the players into successful situations. Having a solid philosophy of coaching players is one thing. Pairing it with creative and successful play calling is quite another.
Even so, we should be happy to see that Joseph and his coaching staff are doing their best to evolve their game plans and schemes to fit the strengths of every single player on the roster.
Broncos OTA observations: Operating in pressure situations
On a day when young WRs took the spotlight, the Broncos emphasized no-huddle and fourth-down work, with standouts on both sides of the ball.
Broncos OTA notes: Von, Demaryius, Emmanuel absent; Shane Ray's wrist ailing again
Shane Ray walked off the practice field Monday after doing nothing more than observe the Broncos' workout while wearing a protective splint around his left wrist.
Broncos OTA report: Shane Ray, Von Miller among group of players not practicing
For their seventh of 10 OTA workouts, the Broncos had a lengthy list of absentees.
Nice awareness by Keenum — pass on a fourth-down play is deflected by Gotsis at the line, then Keenum catches it and runs for the first down.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) June 4, 2018
#Broncos Courtland Sutton has opened eyes at OTAs with his athleticism. Made some one-handed catches. Made play today when bubble screen broke down. And doesn't seem overwhelmed. It's way too early but impressive traits when considering rookies who could make impact. #Denver7 pic.twitter.com/SPQMViwzk0— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) June 4, 2018
Did you know?— Chat Sports (@ChatSports) June 4, 2018
The Denver Broncos are the only NFL team to be top 5 in Total Defense (YPG) the last 4 seasons.
2017: 290 (3rd in NFL)
2016: 316.1 (4th)
2015: 283.1 (1st)
2014: 305.2 (3rd)
Will the @Broncos make it 5 straight years?#NFL #Broncos pic.twitter.com/t7bVyVkIbB