Day 6 of Broncos camp is in the books and it’s the first practice where we saw our Broncos wear their pads and hit each other this summer. With that said, it was a low-key practice that lacked the exciting moments that prior practices produced. The quarterback battle was a wash today with the emphasis on the run game, look for the Broncos to be a run-first offense, rookie Jonathon Cooper standing out, news and notes, and injury report, quotes, and more.
Quick Quarterback Update
Normally I put an emphasis on the quarterback battle and give everyone the “winner” of the day according to reports. Well, today consider it a wash for both.
Slight, slight, slight edge to Teddy today, but in big picture, both QBs were even par today. Bridgewater had two nice downfield shots: 20+ yards in 7-on-7 to Hinton, & a well-placed deep ball to Darboh in 1-on-1. Simmons dropped potential Lock end-zone INT in red-zone period.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) August 3, 2021
Neither quarterback was bad today, but neither really did anything to stand out. Both were consistent, had no turnovers, made a few nice throws, and held their own. However, the emphasis today was clearly on the run game.
With the pads on, it’s the best time to evaluate your blocking and running backs. The quarterbacks had plenty of reps throughout the first five practices, so today was a running-backs day (and they did not disappoint).
The battle remains close or “even stevens” and hopefully, we will gain some clarity on the position tomorrow with the team once again putting on the pads.
Ground and Pound
While the emphasis is on the quarterback position, the running backs could be leading the way on game day. That was evident today when the running game took front and center over the quarterback competition.
All the focus is on the QBs, ovbiusly, but the Broncos’ offensive bread is going to be buttered on the ground.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) August 3, 2021
This team can run it well. And the OL does a great job getting push off the snap and creating space for the RBs to accelerate to the holes.
Ground and pound.
Head Coach Vic Fangio liked what he saw from his running game today. He told reporters after practice that he thought “they ran the ball pretty damn good on offense” today.
“I thought we ran the ball pretty damn good on offense. I need to go look at the tape. I just think we had a good progression. I think tomorrow’s practice will even be better with the pads on.”
A strong running game will be key with this offense. You have a strong defense, and whoever wins the quarterback battle, let’s face it, won’t be able to carry this team on their back week in and week out. Also, with the defense looking damn good, a strong running game to control the clock, keep the offense on the field, and just out physical your opponents will help the Broncos be a successful team in 2021.
As for the running backs, Melvin Gordon was the offenses best player last year and looks really good so far according to reports. He figures to be the main guy right now, but the other two backs(Sorry Royce) have impressed as well.
First, we have second-round pick, Javonte Williams. He hasn’t had a bad camp by any means but really hasn’t had any big noteworthy moments(yet). However, today when the pads came on and things got real, Javonte stood out.
Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur spoke with the media and said that Williams has been terrific thus far and has a bright future.
“Yeah, he’s been terrific. His running ability is very obvious, but the things that we see are his instincts as a football player. Some people just get it, and then we’ve all been around people that just don’t quite get it. They wake up every morning and start over. He gets it, and it shows up in his pass protection, it shows up in being able to get lined up, his awareness. He’s got a really bright future.”
Williams was my favorite back in the draft and I think he can have a Nick Chubb-like impact on the Broncos offense.
Now, Gordon and Williams aren’t the only two backs pushing for carries during camp. Free-agent signee Mike Boone has looked explosive and like a potential steal off the free-agent market.
Fangio was asked about Boone today and while he gave Broncos fans and media flashbacks by saying he “has juice”, he also said that “Mike is not a guy to sleep on”.
“I like Mike. Mike is a good running back. He’s got juice, he’s explosive, he’s decisive and he runs hard for a guy that’s maybe on the small side, but he doesn’t play small. I like Mike. Mike is not a guy to fall asleep on.”
Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur also mentioned Boone’s explosive play and how he has earned some playing time in this backfield.
“He’s an explosive guy, and again I really wasn’t around him in Minnesota. We were like two ships, so I’m getting to know him, but very explosive [and] again very instinctive. He will earn some playing time in there. He’s done a really good job.”
Boone figures to get a lot of run in the preseason so he could quickly become a fan favorite if he excels during those three games.
Jonathon Cooper stands out
When the pads come on, some players regress while others stand out. Well, rookie edge rusher Jonathon Cooper was among the players who stood out today.
Jonathon Cooper has been blowing up stuff today.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) August 3, 2021
The rookie edge rusher was unblockable in one-on-one blocking drills, he was pressuring the quarterback in team drills and just blowing stuff up as Andrew Mason mentioned above.
Head Coach Vic Fangio was asked about Cooper after practice and he said he had a good first impression of the rookie pass rusher and praised his ability to play hard, his play strength, and IQ.
“Good. I’ve liked what I’ve seen from him. He naturally plays hard. Some guys have to push themselves to play hard, but it comes natural to him which is nice. He’s got good strength, and I think he’s got good football instincts and IQ.”
He had multiple heart surgeries this offseason and has bounced back to have a solid start to his NFL career. He’s a great story, someone you can root for, and someone we figure to see a lot of during the preseason.
Jerry Jeudy doing Jerry Jeudy things
Jerry Jeudy was partaking in some one-on-one drills and was facing off against defensive back P.J. Locke in this rep and it just isn’t fair. Jeudy who’s among the league's rest route runners facing off against a depth player went about as good or bad (depending on your perspective here) as expected.
Expect big things from Jerry Jeudy this year.
- Linebacker Josey Jewell remained sidelined with a groin injury.
- Wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland missed his second straight practice with a “backside” injury.
- Veteran safety Kareem Jackson was given a veteran rest day today.
- UDFA cornerback Mac McCain sat out practice today with a hamstring injury.
- Veteran tackle Cam Fleming sat out practice with an ankle injury.
- Nose tackle Mike Purcell sat out practice once again with a sprained ankle.
- Defensive lineman Deyon Sizer left practice with a hamstring injury.
- Offensive tackle Cody Conway was carted off with a knee injury and it’s feared he tore his ACL.
- Wide receiver K.J. Hamler was held of practice because of Covid guidelines but could return in a day or two per Vic Fangio.
News and Notes
- Tackle Bobby Massie continued to receive the first-team reps at right tackle today. I think barring something unforeseen or an injury, it’s his job.
- Second-year linebacker Justin Strnad received first-team reps today in place Josey Jewell and looked good per reports. Jewell could lose his job or some snaps here if this continues while he sits out.
- All three of the Broncos' running backs look good. Melvin Gordon appears to be set to be your “starter” while Javonte impressed today. However, Mike Boone is a name to watch. HIs explosion has been evident and he’s earning some reps as well.
- With Kareem Jackson resting, Trey Marshall and Caden Sterns received some first-team reps at safety today.
- Rookie safety Jamar Johnson was on the sidelines today and could be close to returning after being sidelined with Covid.
- McTelvin Agim continued to look good and appears to be set to be a solid rotation piece for the defense.
- Jerry Jeudy was burning everyone is one-on-one drills.
Head Coach Vic Fangio on ILB Justin Strnad’s play since filling in for ILB Josey Jewell
“He’s done well. I see him getting better and better every day. This is a great opportunity for him, and so far, he’s responded. He’s a long way from being ready, but I do see him getting better every day. Without even watching today’s tape, I saw some good stuff out there.”
Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell on if it’s unique that CB Pat Surtain II has been able to handle learning multiple positions
“I think the No. 1 draft picks that we’ve coached in the past—we’ve never quite asked a guy to do that much. Part of it is because we’ve had so many other veteran players. We want to be able to get him on the field. He has multiple talents, so we can fit him in. It’s a unique situation. In most cases, there’s a major need at corner and the guy just goes to that one spot.”
Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell on how creative he can get with Surtain II
“I think very creative. It’s not Surtain, it’s really the whole group. You have to start with [S] Justin Simmons, [S] Kareem Jackson, [CB] Bryce Callahan and two veteran corners in [CB Ronald] Darby and [CB] Kyle [Fuller]. It’s really an excellent group. People talk about there’s a lot of talent in that group, but the main focus is seeing how far you can take that group. There’s a great responsibility on us as coaches to get these guys in position to where they can make it really hard on offenses.”
Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell on what he’s seen from S Caden Sterns thus far
“When we talk about draft, we’re looking for guys that can cover man-to-man, play in the deep part of the field, tackle and can do all those kinds of things. Then we look to see if they can stay up with the play calls and the volume. Right now, he’s passing those tests. It’ll be a very interesting month to watch him because we have the work with the Vikings and the preseason game. It’s an ongoing evaluation.”
Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur on if he’s seen any separation between QB Teddy Bridgewater and QB Drew Lock
“I’ve seen both guys getting better. This is the best version of Drew that I’ve seen. I think he’s done a really good job. I expected Teddy to come in—Teddy has got experience, he’s got experience in multiple offenses and so, what we call apple, somebody else called orange. So, he said, ‘Ah OK, it’s orange.’ So we roll. I think Teddy has done a good job, and I think the unintended consequence of this is sadly teams typically need two quarterbacks to play throughout the year. So all the good work that they’re getting will help both of them as we play this season out.”
Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur on what has made QB Drew Lock the best version of himself this season
“He’s just improved, and I think we’re making corrections with Drew that you would make with a quarterback in the second year of a system. There are little decision-making things or get the ball here a little quicker. You’ve got to be a little bit careful when you’re doing the math on who played well and who didn’t. We may have a period with five plays where it’s three runs, play action and a screen. We did a drill today where we were actually trying to throw incompletions to stop the clock. So you might say, ‘Holy smokes. That was a crappy throw.’ When no, that’s what we were designed to do, so sadly for you guys, you don’t have the scripts and you don’t know the intention of our drills, but some of that happens.”
Tweets From Camp
PADS PADS PADS!— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensDNVR) August 3, 2021
First practice of pads for the Broncos. pic.twitter.com/MiH61PJTlW
One on ones. Jonathan Cooper just served lunch to Fant.— Darren McKee (@dmac1043) August 3, 2021
Jerry Jeudy is absolutely burning dudes in one-on-one drills today.— George Stoia III (@GeorgeStoia) August 3, 2021
Bradley Chubb doing more 11-on-11 work today.— Aric DiLalla (@AricDiLalla) August 3, 2021
Only did a bit yesterday.
Javonte Williams: Good without pads on. Even better with pads on.— Aric DiLalla (@AricDiLalla) August 3, 2021
Undrafted fullback Adam Prentice just knocked over two guys at once on a lead block.— Aric DiLalla (@AricDiLalla) August 3, 2021
McTelvin Agim looking really good in one-on-one drills against the o-line. #Broncos— George Stoia III (@GeorgeStoia) August 3, 2021
Cody Conway left the field on a cart. He was helped back into the main building at UCHealth Training Center with assistance from two members of the Broncos’ medical/athletic training staff.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) August 3, 2021
Garett Bolles REALLY held his own during individuals, even with defensive lineman having a lot of success against other offensive lineman.— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensDNVR) August 3, 2021
Trey Marshall getting some run with Kareem Jackson out today.— Aric DiLalla (@AricDiLalla) August 3, 2021
Quinn Bailey looking mighty in run blocking; out in front paving the way for Royce Freeman to turn upfield on that team-period rep.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) August 3, 2021
Jonathon Cooper with what would have been a MONSTER sack on Rypien. He’s had a great day— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensDNVR) August 3, 2021
#Broncos Kendall Hinton continues to make plays. As I said during podcast a few weeks ago, he’s in mix for roster spot. Also Jonathon Cooper’s high motor showing up. Had nice moments in drills and on pass rush vs 3s #Denver7— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) August 3, 2021
Caden Sterns getting some reps with the first team defense today with Kareem Jackson out. #Broncos— George Stoia III (@GeorgeStoia) August 3, 2021
Today is gonna be a tough one to determine any Qb separation. Loads of running plays and practicing quirky stuff like take a shot at the end zone or throw it away. Not surprising for first day in pads. We may have a period or two left. Right now even. #teddyvsdrew #BroncosCamp— Darren McKee (@dmac1043) August 3, 2021
Calvin Anderson gets Josh Watson to the ground, pulling out in front on a run by Damarea Crockett.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) August 3, 2021
Absolute snooze fest for the 1st day of full pads. Seriously….zzzzz— Tyler Polumbus (@Tyler_Polumbus) August 3, 2021
Practice No. 6 in the books. To borrow Fangio’s term, an “even-Steven” day for the QBs. Run-heavy day as the pads come on. Javonte Williams was eager for this day and delivered. Runs with a purpose.— Nick Kosmider (@NickKosmider) August 3, 2021
“I think we ran the ball pretty damn good on offense.” — Vic Fangio— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) August 3, 2021
Vic Fangio says he “likes” Mike Boone: “Mike’s a good running back. He’s got juice. He’s explosive”— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensDNVR) August 3, 2021
Pat Shurmur "This is the best version of Drew I've seen"— Ryan Edwards (@redwardsradio) August 3, 2021
Pat Shurmur says Javonte Williams has been “terrific.”— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensDNVR) August 3, 2021
Adds he “just gets it.” It shows up in many aspects of his game.
“He’s got a really bright future.”
Shurmur: “We’re making corrections with Drew that you would make with a QB in the second year of the system … you’ve got to be careful with the math” of the competition. Shumur says sometimes incompletions are what they’re going for in drills, trying to stop the clock, etc.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) August 3, 2021
Broncos rookie OLB Jonathan Cooper says he had three heart ablation procedures in May, necessitated by results of an EKG taken before the draft. You wouldn’t know given his energy in camp. Fangio said he naturally plays hard, doesn’t have to ramp up to that level.— Nick Kosmider (@NickKosmider) August 3, 2021
Ed Donatell says the Broncos are asking more of Patrick Surtain than they’ve asked from any other first round rookie in terms of using him in multiple positions.— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensDNVR) August 3, 2021