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Broncos’ offense steals most of the highlight reel on Day 8

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DENVER BRONCOS TRAINING CAMP, NFL Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

And on the 8th Day, the Broncos’ offense set off some fireworks.

Donning pads once again, the Broncos finished Thursday’s practice with red zone work, specifically employing the two-minute drill.

The situation: Russell Wilson and the offense take over with 1:48 to play on their own 20-yard line, trailing 14-10, with two timeouts.

Wilson and the offense responded.

The final drive featured a Wilson - Sutton Special, gaining 34 yards on 4th-and-4. Then the drive ended with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Trey Quinn.

“Two minute [offense]is one of the hardest things to get going for a brand-new offense,” said head coach Nathaniel Hackett, noting the difficulty of just getting everyone on the same page. “Everything is happening so fast, trying to process situations and all those things.”

But it was thanks to Wilson that the final play was what it was.

“It was great working with ‘Russ’ through that one and watching him. He called that last play which was absolutely fantastic and hit him with a touchdown,” Hackett said. “It’s just one of those things. You always want to see progressions. You always want to see guys getting better slowly but surely. That was good. We have a long way to go, but that was really nice to see.”

Hackett explained that his relationship with Wilson is to work together on the play design but ultimately let the veteran make a change or call his own play as he sees fit. The coach says he likes “to plant seeds” with play suggestions but ultimately Wilson sees what’s on the field and knows what he can do.

“We have collaborated on a list of things we want to try and accomplish, and some plays we want to run, especially in the situation of getting down the field in large chunks. I give him those. We talk about it, then he runs with it,” Hackett added. “I’m always kind of in his ear, but it’s his choice—whatever he’s feeling.”

Whatever No. 3 was feeling worked out well because Hackett admitted that the long completion to Sutton on 4th-and-4 wasn’t the designed play.

“Yeah, that was kind of funny. That was pretty cool,” Hackett said, adding that they had something else in mind, but there was miscommunication and suddenly it turned into a different play. “Sometimes, that’s how great plays happen. [That was] a brand-new play. Courtland—wow—he ran a beautiful route. I love how he flattened it and ‘Russ’ did a great job. We had protection up front, and he snuck to the left and got explosive.”

But the offense as a whole was explosive all day as Wilson also completed touchdowns to rookie tight end Greg Dulcich, rookie wide receiver Montrell Washington and new addition (as of Thursday morning) Darrius Shepherd.

The play to Shepherd, in fact, is an option for the receiver to either stay or go.

Hackett explained that ‘ Shep’ - who he’s known since his days at Green Bay - had no intentions of staying.

“My man ‘Shep’ decided he was going. He wasn’t thinking of anything else,” Hackett said.

The coach explained that the real beauty of that play was the offense’s ability to pull it off. As a timing play, it’s not always easy - especially when facing defensive backs like Patrick Surtain, who had broken up the same play before with Courtland Sutton.

“What was awesome was that the timing of the quarterback,” Hackett said. “To be able to get that one is perfect rhythm by the quarterback—great protection, and there was no indecision. And yeah, he took it to the house. It’s pretty funny. That was his first play, and everybody was mad. He has to do more dirty work before he gets those.”

But while the offense had its best day since training camp started just over a week ago, the defense still made some plays. Some big ones.

Rookie corner Damarri Mathis, who has been having a great camp by all accounts, hauled in an INT to keep it interesting between offense and defense. Rookie Damarri Mathis proved he deserves a mention among the defensive backs.

Although Hackett is an offensive guy first, he pointed out that being HEAD coach allows him to be happy about all the plays.

And he is genuinely happy about where this team is headed.

“I thought we’ve gotten better every day,” Hackett said, noting that the rest day on Wednesday went better than expected. “We got way more plays [in] than we anticipated and the guys were mentally able to learn....That’s what you’re looking for. You never want to come out and waste a day in pads. They’re so precious, we don’t have a lot of those.”

Hackett added that this schedule is more like the regular season anyway, with only a few scheduled days in pads. For the coach it’s mostly about quality over quantity.

And he loves watching both sides thrive.

“I’m happy to see both sides of the ball making plays though. That’s what you want,” he said. “You want explosive plays and you want the defense taking the ball away. What’s great about my position is that I get to celebrate for all of it—I don’t need to get mad.”

New YouTube channel for MHR

Not so much “new” as “revived.” We are digging up our MHR Live channel on YouTube and producing weekly shows this season to highlight all the important Broncos news throughout the week.

We are just getting warmed up with Training Camp coverage, but plan to have a weekly presence on YouTube - hosted by yours truly - through the end of the season.

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