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2023 Broncos Training Camp: Day 1 News and Notes

It’s day three (or one?) of Broncos Training camp and things officially kicked off today. Fans were present, we heard from Russell Wilson and Sean Payton, and football is officially back.

Denver Broncos Camp Photo by Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The official start of the 2023 Denver Broncos Training Camp is finally here! They actually kicked off camp two days ago with two acclimation practices, but today, the fans are in and camp has officially kicked off.

Today, we have quarterback Russell Wilson showing off his improved mobility, the defense winning the day and applying pressure on the offense who were missing their two starting tackles, Caden Sterns making the play of the day, news and notes, injury updates, tweets from camp, notable quotes and more!

Russell Wilson shows off his mobility but had an off day as a passer

Russell Wilson shed some weight this offseason and we saw the results of that during today’s practice. He was on the move a lot today and was using his legs to extend the play and even scramble in the open field if that was there. We have seen Russ at his best when he does this sort of stuff so this will likely be something we see a lot of this season from Wilson.

Head Coach Sean Payton is supportive of Russell Wilson being more mobile in practice because you want to practice your drills like you do in a game.

“You want to play it like a game. That’s what we are trying to simulate. It’s hard to practice the spontaneous moments that take place in a game. If you break down a whole game, two-thirds of it happens in the pocket the way it’s supposed to, and a third of it, there is a movement adjustment, there is pressure and there are all sorts of things that can take place. I’m comfortable when I see him climbing [the pocket] and taking off because one of those plays is like a 30-yard gain. How else do you practice that? It’s the same way with the scramble drill when we are out of the pocket. You just begin working on that all of the time. I think it’s one of the things he does well in the framework of a play. When something breaks down and he flushes, a lot of the time good things happen. You have to practice that and get everyone on the same page when it happens.”

A big reason for Russ’s improved mobility was the weight he lost during the offseason. Last year, he showed up a little bigger and you could tell it impacted his mobility. He looked slow and sluggish and had multiple key injuries that also impacted that. Now, he is healthier and slimmer and head coach Sean Payton believes where he is at now will be beneficial for him moving forward.

“That’s a fair question. It’d probably be a better question for him. He looks like he’s in really good shape. I don’t have a good recall as to his weight a year ago, but me personally, I’m always mindful of receivers, running backs, quarterbacks, DBs. I like that weight they come in right out of college. Occasionally, you can put on some additional weight with strength, but too much in an offseason can slow you down. He looks good now. He’s moving around well. I don’t know what his weight is particularly. I could guess, but I know it was what we wanted when we left for the summer break.”

As a passer, we saw Russ do a lot of short quick passes today. 9NEWS Denver’a Mike Klis indicated that this was an emphasis today as the coaches were shouting “HURRY UP HURRY UP” so they executed a quick-paced practice period.

Besides scrambling Russ, a couple other trends to the Broncos’ offense were a ton of pass completions within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage – and a quick paced tempo where coaches are constantly yelling, “Hurry up, hurry up,” and offensive players break from the huddle on a short sprint to the snap.

According to the media present at practice, today was not Russ’s best day as a passer. He apparently looked better in the previous days, but today he just did not have it. Lots of short passes(by design), some misses, didn’t complete anything deep and threw an interception late in practice. With that said, he was without his two starting tackles and had Isaiah Prine and Christian DiLauro as his starting tackles today. So, he was under constant pressure by the defense. However, he looked off in individual drills and 7-on-7 drills, so hopefully, this was just an iffy first practice for rust. It is still July, so I am not too bothered but I would have hoped for a better start.

Defense pressures Wilson who is missing both tackles for today’s practice

The Broncos' defense won the day according to people who were present for today’s practice and a big reason for that was because of their pass rush. With both Mike McGlinchey and Garret Bolles sitting out today’s practice for non-injury reasons, the Broncos' defense was getting pressure off the edges today.

As noted earlier, both Bolles and McGlinchey did not practice for non-injury reasons so the Broncos edge rushers and the defensive line went up against some backups. Isaiah Prince and Christian DiLauro had a rough day against Randy Gregory, Jonathon Cooper, and Zach Allen.

The pass rush was not the only thing to stand out today, the Broncos' secondary did as well. We know Patrick Surtain II is legit but we saw Damarri Mathis make some play. Justin Simmons was his elite self as usual, Caden Sterns had an interception, and rookie Riley Moss stood out a few times as well. This is the strength of the Broncos' defense so it is good to see them having some success already.

Safety Caden Sterns had the play of the day

The play of the day came from third-year safety Caden Sterns. Quarterback Russell Wilson tried threading the needle to tight end Greg Dulcich but it was tipped by safety Justin Simmons and Sterns made an incredible sideline catch to intercept it.

Sterns appears to be on track to win the other safety job opposite of Justin Simmons and his start to camp today did not hurt his cause.

After practice, Head Coach Sean Payton was asked about Sterns and he told reporters that he’s certainly grasping what they are doing on defense and once again, praised Sterns instincts.

“He’s certainly grasping what we are doing defensively. There is less change defensively and structurally. There are some things that are new. Offensively, it is completely different. I think he’s doing well. I think he’s got good instincts, and we’ll just keep progressing with him.”

I believe Sterns, if he can stay healthy, is on the verge of a breakout season. He is incredibly athletic, smart, has flashed ball-hawking skills and is someone the Broncos reportedly love. I think he wins the

News and Notes

Injury Report/Attendance Update

Notable Quotes

Broncos Head Coach Sean Payton on his expectation for the team to advance to the postseason this year

“I’m not afraid of the expectation. I’ve talked with several people about being used to contending for the postseason. You don’t take it for granted. That mindset needs to be present here. I see this as a team that has that ability. It’s our job to bring it out in them.”

Broncos Head Coach Sean Payton on the difficulty of evaluating players without wearing pads

“You make a good point. We’re in this phase still, so we’ve yet to see any of these players with pads on. I’ve seen Tony Jones Jr. because we had him in New Orleans. I tell the coaches all of the time, ‘Let’s not be instant evaluators. Let’s be slow to judge. Let’s rotate these guys through with the first, second and third groups. Let’s not get stuck on where we think guys might be.’ Then gradually, we will have the chance—right now it’s, ‘What are you doing? Do you know how to get lined up? Do you understand what we are doing so that when you do have the pads on, and we are in those preseason games or scrimmages, [you know what to do].’ It’s hard to evaluate someone if they are having trouble learning what to do or if they are slow to do it. It is a little early, but they are certainly bright, willing to learn and working hard. That’s kind of where they are at.”

Head Coach Sean Payton on if LT Garett Bolles’ workload will be managed during training camp

“He’ll be on that program. We’ve got three different groups of players. Some of the older guys, as I mentioned before—anyone who was injured last year and that middle range group that we think are just a moderate risk. We’ll have a schedule for them. You saw a few guys that were not dressed today. This happened to be their day where they were going to be down. With each of these guys, it’s different.”

Head Coach Sean Payton on his impression of CB Damarri Mathis

“Just his movement. I think overall, we’ve been pleased there. It’s still early. The minute we start getting into some padded work, I think we’re going to have a much better handle. We get into a preseason game here in a couple weeks. We’re going to have joint practices at some point, but so far, the impression has been good.”

Head Coach Sean Payton on working with Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi in New Orleans and reuniting with him in Denver

“I was with him twice. I hired him. I can’t recall the first time. He was with me for a stretch of five or six years as the quarterback coach, and then he went to Detroit. Then, he was back in New Orleans with us, and then, we lost him to the Chargers. Then fortunately, we were able to get him back. He’s someone I know very well. He’s extremely bright and really smart. It helps to have someone you’re familiar with that’s handling a lot of the day-to-day stuff because sometimes day-to-day, I can’t be in that room. [New Orleans Saints Offensive Coordinator] Pete Carmichael did that a lot quite a bit for me in New Orleans and was very, very good at it. Joe is doing a really good job working with the coaches. They’ll keep me updated. Things change, and I give him a hard time. The whole group gets together. I walk in, and I don’t understand half of what’s on the board. I’m like, ‘What took place?’ They’ll tell me why, and then I agree to two-thirds of it and get rid of the other third. That’s pretty much how those meetings are going. [Those are] all good ideas. [Passing Game Coordinator] Johnny Morton is someone that has been with me on several occasions. Of course [Tight Ends Coach] Declan Doyle and [Offensive Line Coach] Zach Strief. The other coaches—they’re all getting up-to-speed. When you bring in a staff that’s new, you have that three or two-month period where we’re all at the hotel and you’re here all the time. People have asked me, ‘How do you like Denver?’ I say, ‘Well, I know my way around from here to the Hilton, and now I know Route 25 is important in the city. Outside of that, I just haven’t been out as much.”

Tweets from Camp