After a well-deserved day off on Sunday, the Denver Broncos head into their 5th day of training camp on Monday. Mile High Report’s daily training camp recaps for day 1, day 2, day 3, and day 4 have noted standout performances from individual players, but what does it mean for offense and defense?
It should come as no surprise that the offense is much improved over last year. Not only are they fun to watch, but eye-popping play by a few notables have made it even that much more fun.
It needs to be said that as training camp began, few had Montrell Washington on their training camp bingo board. The wide receiver/kick returner received high praise from quarterback Russell Wilson on Wednesday when he showed up early, ready to participate in a walkthrough with Wilson and others. On Thursday, coach Nathaniel Hackett singled Washington out for high praise, calling him “a really hard worker.” On Saturday, Washington hauled in a 60-yard pass from Russell Wilson for a touchdown.
Washington is basically penciled in as your starting punter and/or kick returner for the Broncos. Now, if he can add anything as a receiver it would be really beneficial and also add just another element to the Broncos’ potentially explosive offense.
He was an unpopular draft selection so it is nice to see him have a strong start to camp. Hopefully, he can continue to do this once pads are on, but for now, it is exciting to see.
It should come as no surprise that all eyes are on Russ as the Broncos first competent general since Peyton Manning retired. When asked if his “head was spinning” at the end of day 1, Russell Wilson retorted, “No, not at all. I’m super-focused and lasered in.” In red zone work earlier, Russ hit tight end Cody Saubert twice for touchdowns. On day 2:
Wilson looked smooth, was dropping dimes, making plays, extending plays, and just bringing a consistency from that position that the Broncos have been lacking since Peyton(pre-decline).
Reading about the offense making plays and battling back and forth with the defense is refreshing. Both units are throwing punches and both, specifically the offense, aren’t really struggling. This hasn’t been the case in recent history as we continuously heard about the offense’s struggles.
Jerry Jeudy has already demonstrated his appreciation for the sizable upgrade at quarterback. On day 1, Coach Hackett praised Jeudy for how he has “attacked training camp.” He’s around more. He’s focused. He’s working harder. During days 3 and 4, Jeudy was the focus of Russell Wilson’s passes. On day 4, Wilson connected to Jeudy for a hard earned 10-yards over Patrick Surtain II. It’s clear that there is some delicious chemistry developing there.
While all eyes have been on the offense, it can’t be understated how good this 2022 Denver Broncos defense could be. As Scotty Payne noted, it’s nice to see even competition on both sides of the ball. Although, day 1 practice seemed to tilt in the defenses favor, the tenor of the following practices were such that declaring winners and losers of the day weren’t as important as the work being done.
Patrick Surtain II
On day 2, Patrick Sutrain demonstrated his shutdown ability in a third-down situation drill against wide receiver Courtland Sutton. When asked about him, coach Hackett had high praise for Surtain and remarked that there are new things he’s doing within his game and he deems to feel good about them. On day 4:
Another day of practice and another day of Patrick Surtain looking like an elite cornerback. He has basically shut down whoever he is covering and he appears to be on his way to becoming a top corner in the league...
...Surtain II is obviously the Broncos’ number one corner and defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero plans on featuring him in their defense. By the sounds of it, Evero plans on putting Surtain on the offense’s best receiver and having him line up in multiple spots while mastering multiple types of coverage.
While Surtain has received the lion’s share of coverage, other defensive players have enjoyed a good camp so far. Justin Simmons was dominant in day 2 practice.
Justin Simmons is one of the best players on the Broncos roster right now and arguably one of, if not the best safeties in the NFL right now. Well, he is flashing that ability in camp thus far as the Broncos’ defense appears to be allowing Simmons to play more of the field.
Reports coming out of camp are that Simmons is able to cover sideline to sideline in Ejiro Evero’s defense instead of only half the field as he did most of the time in Vic Fangio’s defense. This is allowing Simmons to make more plays in the secondary like the one he did earlier today against a Russell Wilson deep ball targeting Jerry Jeudy.
Jonas Griffith has continued to build off his success late in 2021. In day 1 of camp it was noted:
Griffith, who is fighting for a starting job with veteran free agent signing Alex Singleton. He had a strong finish to the 2021 season where he emerged as a consistent player for the Broncos’ defense has carried over his success into the offseason and now into the first day of camp.
He was making plays in coverage with multiple PBU’s while also showing off his range and read and react ability to smother ball carries.
By day 3 of camp, DeShawn Williams had already “blown away” Nathaniel Hackett.
“I’ll tell you, he’s one of those guys—especially when you meet him for the first time—you’re a little surprised. His ability to disturb and obstruct on that line of scrimmage is unbelievable. He’s got a low center of gravity, he has that ability to use his hands and disrupt is just unbelievable. I’ve been really blown away by him. Watching how he fights off blocks—he had one that was very controversial in our competition where he had an unbelievable swim move inside on a pass rush. It was impressive watching him move. He’s done a good job. He fights all the time, and I’m just really happy with where he is going.”
Baron Browning and Nik Bonitto have been getting in work, turning in a solid practices on day 4. Defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero said of Browning:
“He’s getting better each day and [he’s] another guy that has a lot of ability. Obviously, with the transition, there is going to be some growing pains, but we really, really love what he’s doing right now.”
Nathaniel Hackett had high praise for Bonitto:
“He’s done a really good job. For him, there is a lot more calls, and there are a lot more things that are going on compared to what it’s been like in college football. That’s always the transition that goes on with any rookie, but you could see his speed. He has that athleticism, and you can see the ability for him to bend. There’s still some of those little hiccups here and there with all the adjustments because this game is about communication, especially with how we like to stress the guys out. We like to motion and do all kinds of stuff—slow it down, speed it up. You can’t just line up in one spot and rush. You just have to do a great job of talking to your other people and knowing what is happening. That is what he has to work on.”
Week 1 of training camp is officially in the books. On Monday the Broncos take on week 2 with day 5. Be sure to follow Mile High Report for camp updates as they happen.
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