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Broncos Training Camp: Day 3 news and notes

The Denver Broncos put on the pads for Day 3 of training camp. The starters played against the backups on both sides of the ball.

Denver Broncos Training Camp Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The Denver Broncos have concluded their first fully padded practice session of the year. Day 3 saw a lot of 1s versus 2s and both sides of the ball looked good against the backups. The intensity is up as the installs progress to physical contact between the two sides.

There was a lot of good stuff that came out of camp today, so let’s get to the big storylines.

Drew Lock had his best practice session yet

Drew Lock came out on fire in practice on Monday. He was quick and accurate on his throws, picking apart the opposing defense. His one incompletion early on was against the first-team where Todd Davis was able to break up a pass intended for Noah Fant. Other than that, Lock was on target in practice.

When asked how he thought the offense was executing early in practice, Lock seemed pretty confident that they were on the right track after just a few days of practice.

“I think it’s a testament to all the coaches on the offensive side of the ball and the defensive side of the ball,” Lock said. “The defense got us a little bit that first day, but it’s the same thing—testament to our coaches here. They didn’t have a lot of time to get us ready, and like you said, for how young we are, [it’s] the first time learning an NFL offense for a lot of these guys. This is a brand new offense for the whole offense. It’s literally been a culmination of one little baby step at a time. We’ve done a great job of prepping beforehand.

“We’re about to get to the point where we’re installing new plays and having to go out and run it. We’ve had install one, install two and install three ready. Keep it clean. That’s what I did last year. When we came out and ran the first couple installs, I thought I was the man. Then we got to the last couple installs and I’m like, ‘Wow, these are kind of starting to pile up.’ I think our coaches are doing a good job of keeping us ahead of schedule on these scripts and plays in general. We’ve just got to keep piling it on and not let it overwhelm us as a young offense.”

Lock has shown the aggressiveness to attack the ball down the field, which is something that we all saw early on in his five starts that kind of went away in those final two games. Part of that was likely a rookie quarterback beginning to get overwhelmed with the piling on, but another was confidence in reading what he was seeing on the field.

By all accounts, he should be seeing that field a little better as a second-year player with an offseason of study behind him. Head Coach Vic Fangio likes how Lock is balancing between aggressiveness and caution when the situation dictates.

“You always want your quarterback to have to attitude to stretch the limits with obviously the caution and the knowing in the back of his mind that we do not want to turn the ball over,” Fangio said of Lock. “We don’t want to have the mentality of not turning the ball over to the point where we never push the ball downfield either. We’re trying to challenge the defense in some tight throwing lanes. We have to be able to do that without turning the ball over. Yeah, I do want to see him do that both for our offense and his learning experience—what can he fit in and what can’t he fit in at different times.”

It’s only been three days, but we all know that the success of the Broncos offense literally rests on the shoulders of Drew Lock. He’s entering his second season and only has five starts, so every little detail he can master prior to Week 1 is going to help him when real games are on the line.

First-team defense dominated second-team offense

Once the units broke out separately, the first-team defense put a lot of pressure on Jeff Driskel and the second-team offense. This would validate most of our concerns that depth along the Broncos second-string offensive line is weak.

The first-team unit didn’t dominate all of the way. Rookie wide receiver Jerry Jeudy got work in with the second-team offense, so he was able to go up against the starters on defense. On one reception from Driskel, he put Bryce Callahan on his heels with an impressive sutter step.

Jake Butt continues to make strong case for roster spot

One player who is fighting hard for a roster spot in a crowded tight end room is Jake Butt.

He’s had an injury-riddled NFL career, but he is fully healthy and doing what he can to secure his way onto the team. Throughout Day 3, Butt’s name was called and he delivered. At one point during the session, Butt had snagged four passes and looked very athletic in his route running. If he is 100% healthy, then Butt could be looking at his first real opportunity to make an impact on the field at the NFL level.

It would be a great story if that were to happen.

Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur is known to keep four tight ends on his offensive rosters. If I were to pick four right now, I’d go with Noah Fant, Nick Vannett, Albert Okwuegbunam, and Andrew Beck. I don’t see how Butt will knock any of those guys down the list, so we would need to consider Shurmur possibly keeping five tight ends in 2020.

When asked about Butt’s process, Fangio is hopeful as the rest of us are.

“I think Jake is way ahead of where he was last year at this time,” Fangio said. “To quote him, he feels the best he’s felt in a long, long time. I think he’s looked out there not just today but all the days he’s been out there. He had a great offseason. Hopefully we’ll see the real Jake Butt here this season.”

The talent has always been there for Jake Butt, but the injury bug has kept nipping at him along the way. Here’s to that changing in 2020!

News and Notes

Injury Report

Quotables

Vic Fangio

On if Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur’s scheme is playing out as he expected and if the offense has college-style plays

“Yeah, I think it has up to this point. Obviously, we don’t have a finished product yet or everything installed. We haven’t mastered everything yet, but yeah, we have some principles from a lot of different offenses. I think some of the plays that you are alluding to as college-type plays, a lot of teams have those plays now. They’re a part of our offense.”

On what the key is for ILB Alexander Johnson to take another big step this year

“Efficiency and knowledge, which should come with experience. He played the last 12 games last year after not playing football for a long time. I was pleased with the way he played last year, but he can still improve tremendously. I think it just comes all with the knowledge and experience and knowhow that comes with playing more. With him pushing himself more to excel at the mental part of the game—he can do the physical things we want him to do. He’s just got to be more efficient and more knowledgeable and react in the plays quicker and better more consistently than he did last year.”

On what is different about CB De’Vante Bausby now than when he was in Chicago and the competition at cornerback between Bausby, Isaac Yiadom and Davontae Harris

“It’s too early right now to see any separation amongst those three guys. They’re all doing fine. They all have their ups and downs throughout the day. We’ve got to work hard to eliminate the downs or to minimize them—the more appropriate word in today’s world is to mitigate them. Bausby should be in the best spot he’s been in in his career. This is the first time he’s had some continuity, meaning he was here last year, he has experience with us prior to that and he’s coming in to his second year here with the Broncos albeit that he did miss the last 11 or 12 games last year. He should be in the best spot of his career. If he’s going to show that he belongs in the NFL on a consistent basis, this is the year he should do it.”

Drew Lock

On the progress of the offense thus far

“I think every day that we go out, get a little bit better with timing with receivers. The one thing—the big thing—is it’s been almost five, six months for a lot of us. That was the first pocket that the [quarterbacks] have been in in a long time. It’s the first time the O-line has had to take on guys fully rushing at them. Same thing with receivers—getting jammed up, having to run five, six routes in a row rather than routes on air where you get to chill out and have the guys in front of you take some reps. The basic thing is that this is the first time in a long time we’ve all been back out there. That’s what we’re trying to get better at—the basics, pocket fundamentals, the O-line doing their thing, receivers doing their thing. Same with the defense. We have to get back into it and get things rolling.”

On the importance of maintaining an aggressive mindset while also focusing on protecting the football

“Yeah, it’s going to be an equal balance of both. Kind of reminding myself, taking the shots when they’re there and fitting it into some windows if need be, [while] also understanding that taking care of the ball is the No. 1 thing for us. If we can take care of the ball, we’ll be well off. It’s not going to take away from who I am as a quarterback. It does have times in [Offensive Coordinator Pat] Shurmur’s offense where we can’t show that. I’ve had a blast learning this offense and getting back out there with the guys and trying to put it all together. One step at a time.”

On his impressions of WR Jerry Jeudy’s route running ability

“We’ll say Jerry is pretty good. We’ll put it that way. I’m not putting anything out there and establishing expectations for that young man to hold up because I know if someone would have said that I was the best thrower they’ve ever seen last year, I would have gone into games with a little bit of added pressure. Jerry has been great. I think the best thing that I’ve seen out of Jerry is how hard he comes out and works every day and just how on top of it he is—no questions asked. I pop in there and call plays out. Same with [WR] KJ [Hamler], same with [TE] Albert [Okwuegbunam] and same with a lot of these guys. I’ve just been extremely impressed with how much work the guys around us have been putting in to be able to come out ready to go every single day knowing that we don’t have very many days to be ready for that Monday night game against Tennessee.”

Mike Purcell

On conversations with Head Coach Vic Fangio about his roster status compared to this time last

“It is a little different. He came up to me I think it was about the time we got back or it actually was probably during the offseason. He kind of asked how it feels to be a little comfortable having a position here. I told him my mentality’s not going to change. I’m going to fight the same way I did every single year. As soon as you feel like you get complacent sometimes, it’s sometimes when things can turn for the worst. I’ve battled through hell and back, so I’m just going to keep my mentality the same way. It feels good. As long as they know that I can play football, I’m going to give them everything I can, and I’ll play as long as I can. I’m just happy to be here.”

On how he is meshing with DL Jurrell Casey and what he is like as a player

“Jurrell’s a great guy. He brings a lot of intensity and a lot of experience. I think those are like the biggest things. His experience and his knowledge of the game, everything like that, it’s helped us tremendously inside. To lose somebody like [Ravens DE Derek] Wolfe but to gain somebody like him is just something that’s tremendous. Jelling-wise, when we’re out there playing, I think it’s been going really well. It can only get better from now on. Now we’ve got the pads on. We can really bang, really feel each other out how we play and how certain things could play out for each other. It’s been going really well, and I only expect it to get better.”

On what he has seen from DE Dre’Mont Jones and DL McTelvin Agim on the defensive line

“They’re two guys that definitely have motors. It’s kind of rough right now that we have two different locker rooms so we can’t necessarily—we’re not next to each other all day long. With these guys, you see them out on the field and they’re playing. They’re going all out. It’s a promising year I can tell you that for sure. They’re both young, but we’ve all been in that position before. We can all have experiences that we can share knowledge with them especially from Jurrell, [DE] Shelby [Harris] and myself, D-Walk (DE DeMarcus Walker), [DL] Christian [Covington], those guys. They all have different aspects of the game that you pick up from wherever you’ve been and however you’ve played. You can always pass on to them. With the talent that they have—Dre’ showed out last year. This year he has all the tools that he—with the tools that he’s bringing in and the tools that [Defensive Line Coach] Bill [Kollar] can teach them as well as the rest of the vets, he can only go up and get better. That’s what we hope and that’s what we expect.”

Tweets From Camp