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2023 Broncos Training Camp: Day 4 news and notes

We have all the news and notes from day four of Denver Broncos camp right here.

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

Day four of Denver Broncos camp is officially in the books and this was their second straight padded practice. Unlike yesterday, they did not suffer any major injuries to key players on the roster, so that is always a positive.

Today, we have another up-and-down day for Russell Wilson, but Payton has been pleased with his progress, Zach Allen is a monster, Brandon Johnson flashing in camp again, and rookie running back Jaleel McLaughlin continues to shine.

Up and down day for Russell Wilson

Today was another up-and-down day for the Broncos quarterback. He had some lows, probably his best pass of training camp, and got some praise from head coach Sean Payton after practice.

In the first play of team drills, Wilson was intercepted by safety Justin Simmons who is having an excellent camp thus far. However, later in practice, Wilson completed a 30-yard pass down the field to wide receiver Courtland Sutton who made a fantastic one-handed catch. He was covered by cornerback Patrick Surtain II, but it was a perfect throw and a wonderful catch.

After practice, head coach Sean Payton told reporters that Wilson was moving around well, he is in good shape, and that he has been pleased with his progress.

“We are really focused on what he is doing within the offense. Obviously, he is moving around well, his weight is down, he is in really good shape and he’s working really hard. There are a lot of nuances still we are working through. There were some good things in the running game today. Each day, you kind of look at the film and you start again with the corrections. I have been pleased with his progress and where he is at dating back to the offseason and to where we are now into our first full week.”

It is still early in camp and Wilson and the rest of the offense are learning a new playbook, so a slow start should be expected. However, it would be nice to see Wilson string together a few strong practices to help ease the concerns.

One big reason the offense has been struggling a bit has been the play of the secondary. Payton told reporters that the secondary has been a “challenge” and that it is hard to find some completions during some of these drills.

“When I watch them, the first thing you see is that they have ball skills, they’re smart, and they’re experienced. You see the communication, so it’s hard to find completions in some of these drills. They do a really good job of it. They force you—in some of their seven-and-a-half man fronts—to be patient and run the ball. They’re a challenge.”

So, hopefully, the offense is just having a hard time with the Broncos' defense instead of them just being bad like last year. At least we saw Wilson and the Broncos offense end practice with a bang.

Zach Allen is a monster

One name that continues to be mentioned throughout camp is defensive lineman Zach Allen. He was signed as a free agent this offseason and reunited with Vance Joseph in Denver and so far, he has proven to be worth every penny he signed

Media at camp routinely point out he is in the backfield, getting sacks, and swatting passes at the line. That continued today when Allen was described as an “absolute monster” KOA’s Ryan Edwards after batting another pass at the line.

After practice, head coach Sean Payton called Allen a good technician and that he is a really smart, high-effort, and high-energy player.

“He’s a really good technician. The one thing about him, he’s always going to be fitting the right gap. He’s really smart. He’s a high effort and energy player. He does a good job of getting an edge and getting on the lineman’s edge. We’re pleased with what we’ve seen, but again, it’s early.”

Hopefully, the Broncos can get this sort of play from Allen all season. The Broncos defense needs to get after the passer more this year and Allen will be looked at as one of those guys who should do that often. He is replacing Dre’Mont Jones so we need Allen to be an impact player for them on defense.

WR Brandon Johnson flashing and making plays

Last year, after the Broncos lost Tim Patrick to an ACL injury, the team was looking for someone to step up and replace his role on the roster. One player who did do that was undrafted rookie, Brandon Johnson. Unfortunately, an injury derailed the momentum he was building, but a year later, he is doing it again.

Now, a year later and with Tim Patrick down once again with a season-ending injury, the now second-year wide receiver is reportedly turning some heads again at Broncos camp.

After practice, head coach Sean Payton praised Johnson and said that he has made some big plays, and getting more work with the first-team offense, and has flashed some.

“He’s had some big plays. He’s getting more work now with the ones. He can run. All of them, especially on offense, are learning new terminology. He’s picking it up, he’s getting it, and he’s flashed. He’s made some plays, but then he’ll line up two yards too wide and we have to get it corrected. We’re at that point where we keep talking about eliminating the repeated mistakes. [When] we make the corrections, let’s make sure we don’t have to go through that again.”

The Broncos wide receiving room is wide open and now with Tim Patrick down, he has a chance to earn a role in his offense. Patrick was viewed as their slot receiver who could be a trusted option over the middle while also being a nasty run blocker. If he can fill some of that role, he has a chance to make this team.

Rookie running back Jaleel McLaughlin continues to look good

Yesterday, head coach Sean Payton hyped up undrafted rookie running back Jaleel McLaughlin after he had another solid practice. He even told reporters that McLaughlin is the first one inside the building at 5 am and has apparently caught coach Payton’s eye.

Well, he continued standing out during today’s practice by showcasing his explosive play-making ability and just showing of his big play potential.

McLaughlin has shined with the pads on which is always good to see since he is an undersized back. With him flashing during the padded practices and earning praise from Payton, he may have a good shot at making the 53-man roster.

The Broncos have two powerful backs in Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine so having an electric and explosive back in McLaughlin gives them some variety. He is also a good receiver, so we could see Payton try to get him in the open field via screen play or as a receiver.

News and Notes

Injury/Attendance Report

Notable Quotes

Head Coach Sean Payton on if RB Javonte Williams has performed better than he expected since returning to practice

“I think back in the Spring when we visited and we talked about him, all of you expected—and rightfully so—were a little surprised to hear that he might be on time and not on PUP [Physically Unable to Perform list]. We still have to be mindful of his reps and understand that an ACL recovery is ‘X’ amount of time, and they tell you it continues to heal into Year 2. We are doing a good job of working him through the scripts and the practice plans and being patient with what we are asking him to do. I have been pleased to see him out here and not having to miss a week or two. That was to his credit. The offseason he has had—some guys recovery quicker from that injury than others. Fortunately for us, he is doing a good job of doing that.”

Head Coach Sean Payton on the improvements he’s seen from QB Jarrett Stidham

“The film we had were two games from the end of the season and preseason tape all the way back to New England. I think he’s getting more and more familiar with what we are doing offensively. He made a couple of good throws today on third down. He can beat you with his feet a little bit as well. I think it’s just getting the system down and the timing with the other receivers. He’s handling the installs well. He’s smart.”

Head Coach Sean Payton on his impression of G/C Quinn Meinerz

“I really like the player. I remember him when he came out for the draft. He had this funny workout video that we all saw. You get here and you see his strength. He’s one of those guys that’s very powerful. He’s a really good athlete, and I like that room a lot. I remember him when he came out for the draft, but I’ve been really encouraged. Just meeting him and getting to know those guys, it’s a good group. It’s a close group now.”

Head Coach Sean Payton on if the addition of pads allows coaches to learn more about a player

“Yes, 100 percent. It’s happened every year as a head coach for me. There’s always been a few players who look different in pads, and they play differently. It’s interesting. That’s why we’re always guarded to make those early evaluations until we get into pads. We’ve got a lot of reps ahead of us, lot of preseason work ahead of us, scrimmage games, preseason games. It’s good to see them in the actual game-like tempo and dress that they’re going to be evaluated and play in. I can think of a number of players that were just completely seen differently once we put the pads on. Hopefully it’s always a positive way, sometimes it’s the other way.”

Head Coach Sean Payton having Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph on staff

“It’s good to have experience. He’s someone I’ve always respected. I told you guys that back when we hired him. Over the years, we’ve had a number of games against each other, and he’s just been one of those guys that I think is a real good leader in front of the room—a good communicator. I think he’s doing a great job with that side of the ball, but I think his experience is helpful for me.”

Tweets from Camp