Day two of Broncos camp is now in the books and we had another eventful practice to recap. It was another hot one, but that didn’t stop Head Coach Vic Fangio from being out there in his sweatshirt.
We have a plan on replacing Todd Davis, Kevin Hogan’s struggles, a little bit quieter camp, Bryce Callahan not playing the slot? and Jeff Holland playing inside linebacker.
Disclaimer: I was not at camp and this is just a collection of news and notes from other sources with my thoughts and opinions sprinkled in.
Alexander Johnson replaces Todd Davis in the starting lineup
At least for today, the hard hitting Alexander Johnson was given the first crack at replacing injured starting inside linebacker, Todd Davis.
Alexander Johnson gets first chance at filling in for Todd Davis. #9sports— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) July 19, 2019
He joined the Broncos last season and is listed at 6-2, 255 pounds. So he is a more traditional inside linebacker who will knock the snot out of you and be a force in stopping the run. These are the traits mentioned by Fangio when he was asked about Johnson after practice today.
“He’s got good size. He’s a thumper in there. He’s strong. He’s just got to improve his overall understanding and execution. He’s a guy that, you guys know the story, missed a lot of football in his career and he’s got a lot of catching up to do, not just in our system but learning how to play in the NFL and overcoming all the lack of action that he missed throughout his career.”
This is a great opportunity for Johnson to get some valuable first-team reps while also developing as a player. With Davis likely being out a month, he will have plenty of time to make his case for a roster spot and potentially even a starting job if Jewell struggles or something.
However, while today was Johnson’s day to start in the middle, Fangio says it will likely change daily.
“Yeah, I think you saw A.J. (Alexander Johnson) out there today running with the first group. Probably tomorrow or the next day it’ll be somebody else. We’re just going to kind of even off the work with everybody.”
I would assume that special teams ace Joe Jones would get the chance tomorrow with rookie Justin Hollins and Jeff Holland(more on that later) spelling in behind them. This quickly has become one of the more intriguing roster battles on the roster.
Backup quarterback Kevin Hogan struggles again
For a second straight practice, veteran quarterback Kevin Hogan really stunk up the joint. Today he was credited with three interceptions as well as just some all around bad play.
Kevin Hogan has had better days. Just got picked off by Su’a Cravens in a team period.— Kyle Fredrickson (@kylefredrickson) July 19, 2019
It was an ugly back to back performance from Hogan who some pegged to be the Broncos “veteran backup” over rookie Drew Lock. However, performances like this may have Hogan packing his bags to go back to Hollywood sooner rather than later.
Linebacker Joe Jones intercepted Hogan the first-time, safety Su’a Cravens got him during team drills the second time, and pick machine De’Vante Bausby came away with the third one near the end of camp.
Now, while we are all here picking apart Hogan’s play, Head Coach Vic Fangio is saying it’s all too early for that nonsense.
“Why can’t you look at those as good plays by the defense (laughing). It’s way too early to start any thoughts that way.”
I am sure that’s a nice public statement to make about your struggling veteran quarterback, but he cannot be pleased about his performance when going back to look at the tape. He may love the great plays his defense is making though.
It has only been two practices, but Hogan is losing the number two quarterback competition as of now.
No music during camp
If you have been to a Broncos Training Camp practice the previous few summers, you will have to recall how loud the music was. It was used to replicate crowd noise and have both squads try to deal with that noise while still getting their calls and signals done.
Well, it is a much quieter Training Camp this time around.
No music during pre-practice stretch even. Coach Vic Fangio is serious about football. #9sports— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) July 19, 2019
Fangio was asked why the change in philosophy here and he told reporters that he simply does not find the music to be beneficial to the team and coaches.
“Anybody’s who’s been a position coach or an assistant coach they don’t like the music because it makes it hard to talk to your guys, so I don’t see the benefit of having music out there. I was an assistant coach and I don’t want to have to drum out the noise to talk to my players. There’s no music in games, and when it goes to the point where we need to simulate crowd noise in practice, which we will do, it will be noise. It won’t be music. It will be noise. That’s what it is in the game. Noise by definition sounds annoying. Music sounds nice so if we have to deal with noise let’s deal with noise.”
He was later asked if the music bothered him as an assistant coach or coordinator and Fangio said “Yeah, I don’t like it. I don’t like to have to yell to communicate to a player that’s standing as close as me and you are. That makes no sense.”.
This move may scream “no fun police” to some, but I like it. It screams old school disciplined football. Focusing on teaching and actually being able to communicate with his players and coaches.
The first week or so of practice is always about teaching, developing, and growth. There are a time and place to replicate crowd noise, but I’m with Fangio here.
Bryce Callahan an outside corner?
When Callahan signed with the Broncos, many assumed(myself included) that he would take over the slot position and allow Chris Harris to play outside more. Well, Harris is playing outside more, but it sounds like Callahan might be as well.
Bryce Callahan may end up being an outside cornerback for the Broncos, not a nickel corner, per Fangio.— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensBSN) July 19, 2019
After practice, Fangio was asked about where he thought Callahan made his biggest strides as a player while in Chicago. He went on and complimented him up and down while finishing his comment by saying “you may not see him in nickel”.
“He just kept getting better and better all the time. Bryce started out his career as an undrafted free agent out of college, started on our practice squad, then we pulled him up about midway through his rookie season and he just kept getting better and better. Bryce is a smart player. He understands football. He understands what we’re doing and really glad we got him. He was a nickel for us, only played a little bit of corner, but he can play corner and he may end up being a corner for us. You may not see him in nickel.”
I found this surprising since that is what made Callahan’s name last season in Chicago. He was a highly graded slot corner by Pro Football Focus and was a key member to that top-ranked Bears defense. However, Fangio was the mastermind behind that defense and knows his player’s strengths, weaknesses, and capabilities better than us.
This is also a vote of confidence to the depth behind Harris and Callahan. If he is indeed playing outside, it means that Kareem Jackson will be at safety where he has played mostly during camp and allow Yiadom and Bausby to play in sub-packages.
I would assume that Callahan would stay outside while Harris moved to the slot and Yiadom would play the other outside corner position with Jackson moving around depending the matchup. At the very least, it gives Fangio a bunch of chess pieces to work with.
Callahan was asked about the versatility of the Broncos secondary and he thinks it will give them an advantage during the season.
“I feel like with all of us just versatile, we can all play outside, we can all play inside, we can move around and do different stuff with the defense. I feel like that gives us a big advantage on the field.”
If this unit can stay healthy, I think the Broncos secondary will be much improved this coming season.
Jeff Holland playing inside linebacker?
I found this to be one of the more interesting nuggets to come out of camp today. Holland was pegged by many(myself included again) to likely be the third edge rusher coming off the bench for the Broncos. That may very well be the case, but he is also working at inside linebacker according to Head Coach Vic Fangio.
Fangio was asked about what Holland’s biggest adjustment will be and simply stated that newness of the position will obviously be the biggest adjustment he will need to make.
“The biggest adjustment—I don’t think it’s a problem going back and forth but it’s a little bit of an issue for him because he hadn’t done it much. He did it a little bit in college, but very little. He did it a little bit in the college all-star game, so the newness of the position is more so an issue than going back and forth, but he’s been doing fine with it.”
This is interesting because it adds another name into the inside linebacker conversation. Josey Jewell is projected to be the other starting inside linebacker for the Broncos but his job is far from a lock. Now you have another linebacker potentially gunning for his job.
Also, this is the second edge rusher we have learning edge rusher and inside linebacker. Rookie Justin Hollins has been doing it all camp and is a bit of a darkhorse to be your sub-package linebacker this season. It will be interesting to see how Holland fairs in this role.
- Tight end Bug Howard returned to practice after sitting out day 1 with a stomach bug
- Punter Colby Wadman returned to practice after missing day one because of a family matter
- 9NEWS Denver’s Mike Klis tweeted out that UDFA wide receiver Ronnell Guerrier was not practicing today
- Starting linebacker Todd Davis remained sidelined for 3 to 4 weeks with a calf injury
News and notes
- Defensive back Kareem Jackson has been taking all his individual reps with the safeties not the corners.
- Wide receiver Courtland Sutton had a bounce back day and made an impressive catch during practice.
- Von Miller was doing Von Miller things and recorded what would have been back to back sacks during a live game.
- Rookie guard Jake Brendel took some first-team reps today for guard Ron Leary who is still being eased into action. Don Barclay took those reps during day 1 so this is a battle to watch moving forward.
- Tight end Bug Howard made the catch of the day according to Andrew Mason. He leaped over four defenders to make the catch over the middle of the field from quarterback Brett Rypien.
Tweets from camp
No music during pre-practice stretch even. Coach Vic Fangio is serious about football. #9sports— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) July 19, 2019
Lindsay, Brendan Langley, River Cracraft, Kelvin McKnight, Trinity Benson, and Devontae Jackson taking reps #Broncos— Sayre Bedinger (@SayreBedinger) July 19, 2019
Broncos newcomer Kareem Jackson is versatile enough to play CB/S, but has so far done positional group work with the safeties.— Kyle Fredrickson (@kylefredrickson) July 19, 2019
Joe Jones picks off Hogan. Thrown to Janovich near the left sideline. Pressure from Holland off the right edge led to the errant toss.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) July 19, 2019
Dave Williams working in with the 2nd offense already. #Broncos— Sayre Bedinger (@SayreBedinger) July 19, 2019
Beautiful throw on a corner from Joe Flacco to Courtland Sutton who elevated and tapped the toes for a 20-yard gain in 7v7.— Ryan Koenigsberg (@RyanKoenigsberg) July 19, 2019
Noah Fant is flashing today. Making plays for all three quarterbacks. Good sign after a quiet day yesterday.— Ryan Koenigsberg (@RyanKoenigsberg) July 19, 2019
Nice play by Bryce Callahan who broke up a pass from Joe Flacco to Tim Patrick. Almost came up with the ball.— Ryan Koenigsberg (@RyanKoenigsberg) July 19, 2019
Su’a Cravens picks off Hogan. Second INT thrown by Hogan today— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) July 19, 2019
Von Miller with back-to-back rushes that would have been sacks in game conditions.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) July 19, 2019
David Williams with a carry. He could get his share in HOF Game. #9sports— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) July 19, 2019
Broncos getting reps returning punts in special teams drills right now: WR River Cracraft, WR Kelvin McKnight, RB Phillip Lindsay and RB Devontae Jackson.— Kyle Fredrickson (@kylefredrickson) July 19, 2019
Credit where credit is due, Garrett Bolles looks better. Not cutting his stride short late in the block. Extending and looks like he's taking to coaching. Want to see if this continues with pads on. #Broncos @1043TheFan— Cecil Lammey (@CecilLammey) July 19, 2019
Malik Reed just busted up a stretch run play— Sayre Bedinger (@SayreBedinger) July 19, 2019
Second pick in two days from De’Vante “The Baus” Bausby. Dude is a ball hawk.— Ryan Koenigsberg (@RyanKoenigsberg) July 19, 2019
Couple Broncos Camp day 2 notes:— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) July 19, 2019
-Sua Cravens seems to be "getting it."
-Hogan cant stop throwing INTs
- defense getting constant pressure, mostly against right side of OL.
-Alexander Johnson looks like the Todd Davis replacement.
-Keep an eye RB Devontae Jackson.
Joe Flacco hasn’t had a chance to let a deep ball go all day. Pressure getting there every time he looks down field.— Ryan Koenigsberg (@RyanKoenigsberg) July 19, 2019
Vic Fangio On no misic: Anybody who’s been an assistant coach doesn’t like music. Hard to talk over. Plus no music in games. #9sports— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) July 19, 2019
"I've never seen him not in his sweatshirt," Bryce Callahan said of his coach wearing a crewneck in 100-degree weather. "Vic is going to be Vic. I think that's just his swag. Whatever is working for him, just keep doing it." pic.twitter.com/ZopP8TATgs— Ryan Koenigsberg (@RyanKoenigsberg) July 19, 2019
Head Coach Vic Fangio on if they let QB Drew Lock throw with a side arm.
“I think a quarterback that can change his arm angles is a positive when it’s needed. I don’t think you want to do it when you don’t have to do it. Obviously if somebody’s in my face and I might have to do that, that’s good to have that talent, but if I’m here strong in the pocket I want to throw over the top, nice and strong and not rely on side arm. It’s good that he can do that, but he needs to use it when he needs to not when he doesn’t need to. I think that’s part of what I said yesterday. His college offense really had no carry over to pro offenses and he was under duress a lot of times at his college, so a lot of his plays he was running around. I don’t think he’s far along being a ready NFL quarterback as he could have been. That’s what I mean when he’s got to get ready. He’s not a quarterback yet. He’s a hard throwing pitcher that doesn’t know how to pitch yet, so the faster he gets that the better off he’ll be and we’ll be.”
Chris Harris Jr. on the difference in a Head Coach Vic Fangio run practice.
“It’s quieter (laughter). A lot of learning and a lot of coaching and learning. It’s training camp, same thing every year. To me, it’s just who’s going to last when we get to next week, when guys start falling down and guys start taking it to another level who’s going to be able to raise their bar when we get a couple weeks into camp. That’s when you find out who can really make this team.”
Guard Ron Leary on what he likes about the running scheme.
“I love the running scheme. I think it fits all our backs and us up front perfectly. As far as hard to pick up, I mean it’s just a new offense. Regardless of where you’re at if it’s a new offense there’s going to be things that you’re going to have to study a little bit more to pick up on. Everybody has been in their playbook all the time. I know two days into this there’s less mental errors then there was already. Two days and OTAs, so that’s a positive. Like I said, we just want to be good man. You get tired of being bad, so you just want to be good. Everybody has that same attitude and mentality, so I think you all will see something good this year.”