The Broncos have entered the back end of Training Camp and only have a few practices remaining before they’re done. That means that preseason action is nearby and that resulted in some veterans receiving the day off. We also have Tim Patrick and Paxton Lynch showing some chemistry, DeMarcus Walker showing signs of improvement, preparing for the preseason opener, news and notes, injury updates, and more!
Veteran day off:
Today, multiple Broncos key veterans received the day off from practice. You usually see this happen and was something done often by former Head Coach and now front office member, Gary Kubiak.
Von Miller, Demaryius Thomas, and Chris Harris Jr. were among the veterans to receive the day off today according to Head Coach Vance Joseph.
“Yeah, we had a vet day with I think [six] guys. I think [WR] Emmanuel [Sanders], [WR] D.T. (Demaryius Thomas), [OLB] Von [Miller], [DE Derek] Wolfe, [CB] Chris [Harris Jr.] and [S] Stew (Darian Stewart). It was a vet day.”
These veterans are all established players for the Broncos and have earned the right to receive the day off ahead of week one of the preseason. Joseph did say expects the “stars” to play no more than two series against the Vikings, but it makes sense to get your key vets some rest.
As for the tempo of practice, Joseph said it was good with the young guys stepping up. He singled out rookie wide receivers Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton and said it was fun seeing them spend the day with Keenum and the first team offense.
“It was good. It’s always good to see those guys become ones for the day, especially ‘14’ [WR Courtland Sutton] and ‘17’ [WR DaeSean Hamilton]. They’re playing with [QB] Case [Keenum] in the huddle, so it was fun to see those guys play with the ones.”
Veteran days are always nice because it gives the backups and the younger guys on the roster some extra reps and experience against some 1st team players. Keenum practiced today and was able to work with these two rookie receivers who figure to see a good amount of playing time this season.
Wide receiver Tim Patrick shines:
If it weren’t for big Courtland Sutton making insane plays day in and day out, we all would be hyping up another big wide receiver. That receiver being the 6’4” first-year wide receiver, Tim Patrick.
Paxton Lynch is finding a comfort zone today by hitting Tim Patrick repeatedly.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) August 8, 2018
Patrick continued his excellent play today by connecting with second-team quarterback Paxton Lynch on multiple occasions today. This connection will be something to keep an eye on as we head into the preseason. the two clearly have a good chemistry and could hook up early and often on Saturday night.
Reserve safety Will Parks was asked after practice about Patrick, and he called the big wide receiver a “baller”.
“Baller, he’s been making plays since we first started practice. I’m glad to see him out here and make a couple of plays and make everybody better. At the end of the day, as long as we’re making each other better, because obviously people make plays on him and he makes plays on us. That’s the good thing about it is that it’s practice and you can look at ways to get better and things like that.”
The 5th and 6th spots at wide receiver are a competitive spot right now, but I believe Patrick is in the lead for the 5th spot right now. That 6th spot will likely go to a returner like Isaiah McKenzie, River Cracraft, or Phillip Lindsay.
DeMarcus Walker is getting better:
One player who I believe can turn this really good defense into a great defense is the second-year defensive end, DeMarcus Walker. The former second-round pick is coming off a lost rookie year but appears to be on the verge of having a breakout year for the Broncos defense.
Joseph stated that Walker has improved, upped is weight, and has looked better but is anxious to see how he does during live football periods and while taking on double teams.
“He’s gotten better. He’s probably 280-285 (pounds), so he’s gotten his weight up and he’s playing good football. He’s been consistent. Again, the games will tell a story there. Obviously, live football and taking double team blocks on is going to be big for him with his size difference, as far as being a d-lineman for us. We’ll see.”
As I said earlier, Walker could vault this defense back near the 2015 level by adding a Malik Jackson-like type of player to the middle of the Broncos defense. They have lacked that since he signed a mega-deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars but hope they have it back with Walker.
He’ll likely pair with defensive ends Derek Wolfe, Shelby Harris, and Clinton McDonald in sub-packages. Add that with the Von and Chubb coming off the edge and Ray and Barrett mixing in as well and you have the potential for a dominant pass rush.
Joseph and the Broncos prepare for their first preseason game:
The Broncos have just one practice remaining before preparing the host the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night to open up their preseason. This game doesn’t feature the starters or veterans for more than a drive or two and focuses on the reserve players and rookies who will be playing in their first NFL game action in their career.
Vance Joseph said this game is very important for these rookies because they want to build confidence as they head into the regular season.
“For those guys, it’s quite different. It’s their first NFL game, and obviously in this league if you can’t make this team and you’re playing good football, you want somebody else to see you. For these guys, this is their resume. It’s quite important for our young guys to play well—for us, and obviously for themselves also.”
Getting experience, executing the plays, showing growth, and building towards week one is what matters the most during the preseason. However, it never hurts to come away with the win and Vance Joseph stressed that winning is always important.
“I don’t know. We won them all last year, but I think winning is important. Winning is a habit, so you want to win games, but obviously no one is game planning, and things happen in games that cause you to lose games. I’m not concerned about the wins and losses, I’m concerned about how we play. I don’t want sloppy football, I don’t want pre-snap penalties and I don’t want a bunch of flags. That’s what you want, you want to make improvement each week you’re playing and not peak during the preseason. You want to peak [starting with] Seattle on September 9, that’s our goal.”
The one big storyline for that game will be a pair of Vikings quarterbacks who are well known by the Broncos fan base. Those quarterbacks being former starter Trevor Siemian who was traded to the Vikings this offseason and Kyle Sloter who was waived by the Broncos last year and claimed by the Vikings.
Both players ended up being fan favorites during their time with the Broncos so how their performances compare to Lynch and Kelly’s will certainly be something talked about a lot before, during, and after the game.
If Siemian and/or Sloter have success against the Broncos defense and Lynch and/or Kelly struggle, the concern over the backup spot will grow. We’ll also hear about whether or not the Broncos kept the right quarterbacks or not. So that should be....fun?
News and notes:
- Multiple Broncos alumni were at practice today including former wide receiver, Rod Smith.
- Vance Joseph said that missing a good amount of practice time hasn’t hurt Jeff Heuerman’s chances of making the roster...for now.
- Joseph and the Broncos coaches will discuss how much tight end Jake Butt will play during the first preseason game. There is a chance they may hold him out of this one.
- Linebacker Von Miller, defensive end Derek Wolfe, safety Darian Stewart, wide receiver’s Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, cornerback Chris Harris Jr. were among the vets to receive a veteran day off.
- Tight end’s Jeff Heuerman and Troy Fumagalli sat out practice today.
- Safety Su’a Cravens sat out practice once again.
- Cornerback Tramaine Brock returned to practice after sitting out a week with a hamstring issue.
- Defensive Clinton McDonald sat out practice with a shoulder injury.
- Guard Menelik Watson also missed practice due to an injury.
- Linebacker Todd Davis took a shot to the sternum and left practice. He is okay and it was a precautionary move.
- Receiver/returner Isaiah McKenzie left practice holding his right arm but did return to practice.
- Linebacker Joseph Jones sat out practice with a foot sprain and is awaiting word from the doctor on when he can return.
Tweets from camp:
VJ with a little fire during special teams drills: "We've go to practice like we play ... it's always game time."— Kyle Fredrickson (@kylefredrickson) August 8, 2018
Corey "Philly" Brown is in the group returning punts right now. Another possible contender for the job.— Kyle Fredrickson (@kylefredrickson) August 8, 2018
Broncos WR Isaiah McKenzie walking to the locker room with athletic trainers holding his right arm.— Kyle Fredrickson (@kylefredrickson) August 8, 2018
McManus was perfect during team field goals, including hitting a 61-yarder and making a 50+ yarder after being iced— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensBSN) August 8, 2018
Tim Patrick with potentially the catch of camp. CJ Smith all over him in coverage on the sideline and Patrick reaches around him for the one-handed grab and a 30-yard gain.— Ryan Koenigsberg (@RyanKoenigsberg) August 8, 2018
Paxton Lynch is finding a comfort zone today by hitting Tim Patrick repeatedly.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) August 8, 2018
I would not want to be responsible for blocking Bradley Chubb if I were an offensive lineman. Chubb is such a physical monster. He can just run right through you and take you for a ride. Jeez. #Broncos #TrainingCamp @OrangeBlue760— Anthony Rodriguez (@AnthonyRod33) August 8, 2018
Vance Joseph, on the backup WRs practicing in place of Thomas & Sanders (who got rest days) today:— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) August 8, 2018
"There wasn’t much drop-off as far as knowing what to do … If 88 and 10 go down, I think we’re in good shape with 14 and 17 (Sutton and Hamilton)."
Vance Joseph said as of now the stars will play on Saturday.— Ryan Koenigsberg (@RyanKoenigsberg) August 8, 2018
Vance Joseph on what he’s seen from WR River Cracraft:
“[He’s] very consistent, very smart player and very good on [special] teams. He’s got some qualities that will help him make our team. Your fourth, fifth and sixth receiver has to be a guy that plays teams and has to be a smart guy to play every position. So far, he’s showing those traits.”
DaeSean Hamilton on if he received additional coaching from WR Emmanuel Sanders and WR Demaryius Thomas while they were off today:
“Those guys, they’re always helping out the younger guys, always talking to me, coaching me up, basically running me through different techniques that they’ve used in different situations. Today is just like any other day, like I said. Those guys coaching right now they’re not practicing so they’re out on the field giving us tips. We’ll go back in meetings and watch film, they’re doing the same exact thing. Giving all of us tips, coaching us up, really telling us what the right things to do are, what to be looking for especially going against NFL defenses. They have been doing that since day one and today is just another day like that.”
Case Keenum on what he has seen from wide receiver River Cracraft:
“Cray-Cray? He’s playing well. He’s doing really well. I like throwing him the ball. He’s a friendly target. He’s learning too. He’s learning the NFL game. I think you like having a guy like that, you can move inside, outside, shifty. He’s got good separation at the top of his routes. And he’s learning too, just like a lot of those young guys. He’s continuing to grow, he’s watching the older guys, [WR] Emmanuel [Sanders], and watching what those guys do and trying to emulate some of that.”
Courtland Sutton on getting to interact with the fans after practice:
“It’s awesome. We have such great fans here. They love us, they support us and they come out here every day. It’s so funny, I was talking to some of the other guys and I was like, ‘I forget that we practice in the middle of the week because we have so many fans that come to practice on like a Tuesday.’ I’m like, ‘Does nobody have work? Is everybody just showing up?’ But it’s awesome to be able to go out there. They take time out of their day to come watch us practice, so it doesn’t hurt me to go over there and interact with them a little bit.”