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Broncos training camp observations: A look at the secondary

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Standouts from the defensive secondary from the Broncos training camp practice at Broncos Stadium at Mile High.

NFL: Denver Broncos-Training Camp Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

As fans poured into Broncos Stadium at Mile High, the realization set in that Bradley Roby and Joe Woods are no longer here and it is the dawning of a new day for the Denver Broncos secondary.

Players noticed the opportunity they have in front of them, with spots opening up and Vic Fangio’s defense taking on a new look from the one Vance Joseph had. When I went out to Broncos Stadium at Mile High on Saturday, I tried to notice what players were taking full advantage of that opportunity, with stars like Bryce Callahan sitting out and allowing other guys to step up.

The first number to stand out at practice was 25. None other than Chris Harris Jr. The absence of Emmanuel Sanders was immediately obvious, as Sanders is the only Broncos receiver that gives Harris Jr. any sort of trouble outside of Courtland Sutton’s jump balls. Harris Jr. showed maximum effort, even on a deep post to Sutton. It seems without the effort given by Harris Jr. the Broncos secondary would be torched. Harris Jr. is willing to trade big penalties for touchdowns, making it clear he would rather set up again and prevent other teams from getting in the end zone, even if it means lining up on the goal line.

The Broncos’ corners close quickly. It’s obvious there is an emphasis on providing help both in the run game and quick-pass game. Isaac Yiadom is a name that took advantage of Bryce Callahan sitting out after having his foot stepped on, and it was clear Yiadom is not afraid to play off in coverage. Yiadom trusts his speed and ability to close on receivers, lining six to seven yards off at some points.

I also saw Will Parks getting some reps as an emergency punt returner, along with Devontae Booker. The work he was getting was on the side, and Brendan Langley and Nick Williams were getting the full-team reps, but it could be a sign that the punt return team is still being tinkered with.

Su’a Cravens is a big fan of contact. He is noticeably improved at reading opposing playmakers’ body language to determine when to lay the boom. Cravens will need to continue to flash big-play ability, and possibly force some turnovers in the preseason, if he is going to make this Broncos team.

Dymonte Thomas is often in the right position. On a particular play, Thomas was clearly letting the fans celebrate a catch over the middle and putting on a show. If it were a real game, Courtland Sutton might not have been able to get up after the hit Thomas spared him from receiving.

The Broncos are still vulnerable in the middle of the field. That’s where Joe Flacco was doing most of his 7-on-7 damage. Josey Jewell can be a liability at times, and Broncos Country will be frustrated all year with leaks in the middle. The veteran Flacco picked apart Denver’s Cover-2 coverage to finish practice, and Drew Lock looked extremely decisive with his throws.

Shamarko Thomas is not only willing to help in the run game, he was simply lock-down on the outside during goal-line situations. The Broncos should often have the one-on-one advantage in jam coverage, and I expect Thomas to read the play well and make some game-changing plays on Sundays for Denver.

Linden Stephens was stuck with the impossible task of covering the 6-foot-4 Courtland Sutton on the goal line. Sutton is not afraid of sticking his shoulder down and running over a defender, and Stephens stood tall as Denver set up a goal line screen for Sutton, a play Broncos fans can look forward to after having success with it when Demaryius Thomas or Brandon Marshall were catching that pass.

Poll

What member of the Broncos secondary are you pulling for?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Shamarko Thomas
    (43 votes)
  • 22%
    Dymonte Thomas
    (152 votes)
  • 63%
    Su’a Cravens
    (419 votes)
  • 7%
    Other: Comment Below
    (51 votes)
665 votes total Vote Now