Day 14 of Denver Broncos camp is officially in the books and we have just one remaining training camp practice left. Today, the team was once again in their pads and the Broncos offense may have had their best overall day of camp.
Today we have, Russell Wilson cooking and looking like the Russ of old, Ben DiNucci has that “magic moxie”, Vance Joseph saying rookie Drew Sanders have some special rush packages, news and notes, injury/attendance update, notable quotes from the coordinators and more!
Russell Wilson continues to stack good/great practices and did it once again today with what some in attendance are calling his best practice of camp. He hit multiple deep completions today, threw multiple red zone touchdowns, and had only one ball hit the ground throughout the practice.
After Russell Wilson started training camp slowly, he really picked up in recent weeks and is finishing training camp on a strong note.
Arguably Russell Wilson’s best practice of camp today.— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensDNVR) August 16, 2023
Hit Courtland Sutton deep.
Had multiple red zone touchdowns.
Only one incompletion.
Wilson started the practice hot when he hit wide receiver Jalen Virgil for a 50-yard touchdown during the period. Then, during the first play of the 11-on-11 team drill, Wilson hit wide receiver Courtland Sutton for a 30-yard play down the field. He later hit wide receiver Jerry Jeudy for a 20-yard completion down the field with Patrick Surtain II in coverage. It is nice to see Wilson hitting these deep balls in practice since he was mostly doing short passes early in camp and was really off-target on deep attempts. So, this growth from him is promising and I hope it continues.
During the red zone period, Wilson hit starting tight end Adam Trautman for an incredible one-handed 18-yard touchdown pass. His next touchdown pass was to Courtland Sutton who ran a fade route to the corner of the end zone and Wilson threw a perfect pass to him for the touchdown.
It was arguably Wilson’s best performance in camp thus far and this is promising to see.
After practice, offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi was asked about balancing Russell Wilson’s ability to operate in the pocket before scrambling. He told reporters that Wilson has shown that he has great instincts within the pocket and that they have been working on this within drills.
“I think it’s a fine balance. He’s got such great instincts in there, but it’s recognizing, ‘Hey, this is when the pocket is breaking down and you have to go,’ versus, ‘Hey, there is a little push here, but there is still room to find a place to throw the football.’ It’s something that he is aware of and stuff they work on during drill work. It’s trying to find that right balance because he’s made so many plays off schedule and you don’t want to lose that. It’s also making sure we’re finding the plays when things are going right and not bailing too early.”
Wilson has been looking more comfortable within the pocket, making the right reads, throwing accurate passes, and has shown he can escape the pocket and extend the play as he has throughout his career. If he can continue to put this all together, we could see a revenge tour for Russell Wilson.
Ben DiNucci has that “magic moxie”
Third-string quarterback Ben DiNucci had an impressive showing late in the preseason opener and he has continued that this week during training camp. He had a good practice today and earned some praise from offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi today after practice.
OC Joe Lombardi on No. 3 QB Ben DiNucci: “He’s just got that magic moxie. Can make plays. Sometimes he does stuff – he put the ball behind his back today, we’re not encouraging that at all. But he’s a fun guy. He’s one of those guys where you always feel like you have a chance.”— Parker Gabriel (@ParkerJGabriel) August 16, 2023
Lombardi after practice told reporters that third-string quarterback Ben DiNucci has that “magic moxie” about him and that “he is one of those guys where you always feel like you have a chance”. He reportedly made some impressive throws today and has caught the eye of the Broncos' offensive coordinator.
If he has another strong showing this weekend, we may have to start the discussion about him potentially pushing Jarrett Stidham for the backup job. With that said, the Broncos and Payton made a financial commitment to Stidham, so he will need to play pretty poorly again for that to be the case. With that said, I do not feel like it’s out of the realm of possibilities that they keep all three quarterbacks on the roster. Especially with the new emergency quarterback rule.
Special Rush Packages for Drew Sanders
Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph met with the media after practice today and had some interesting comments on rookie linebacker Drew Sanders.
#Broncos DC Joseph said they have pressure packages for Drew Sanders that they will not show in preseason. Said he needs reps at ILB, but that he “makes a play everyday that no one else can make.” #Denver7— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) August 16, 2023
He told reporters that they have pressure packages for Sanders that they will not show during the preseason. Sanders is a big and athletic linebacker who was an edge rusher at Alabama before moving inside at Arkansas. Despite moving inside, he still totaled 9.5 sacks and showed promise as a blitzing pass rusher from the inside. That is how I would expect the Broncos to use him on occasion this upcoming season.
As Joseph notes, Sanders makes plays every day of practice and can do things that others cannot. He has elite, size, speed, and athleticism with the ability to rush the passer. So, while he may not start this year, we will still see him on the field in certain third-down rush packages and hopefully, he can get after the quarterback early and often.
News and Notes
- OC Joe Lombardi called starting tight end Adam Trautman a quarterback friendly tight and said that “the quarterback knows exactly where he’s going to be and what he’s going to do.”. QB Russell Wilson later added “He can do it all” and that he has great hands.
- DC Vance Joseph said that cornerback Essang Bassey is having a “great camp”. He has been starting in the slot since K’Waun Williams has been sidelined.
- DC Vance Joseph called second-year defensive lineman Elijah Garcia a prototype and that he has a bright future. Garcia had two sacks in the preseason opener and is fighting for a roster spot.
- Special Teams coach Ben Kotwica said that rookie receiver Marvin Mims Jr. will see starting reps as a returner.
- Special Teams coach Ben Kotwica said Montrell Washington did a very good job returning the ball in the first preseason game.
- Broncos announced that they have signed former Saints running back/special teamer Dwayne Washington and waived DT Forrest Merrill with an injury designation.
- After being carted off the field yesterday with an injury, safety P.J. Locke was not at practice. Sean Payton said he will be fine after yesterday’s practice so it appears to be a minor injury.
- Veteran slot corner K’Waun Williams remained sidelined from practice.
- Justin Simmons continues to sit out practice with a groin injury.
- Running back Tyler Badie missed today’s practice.
- Defensive lineman Forrest Merrill missed his second straight practice today.
- Right Tackle Mike McGlinchey continued to sit out practice with a knee sprain.
- Wide receiver Brandon Johnson continued to sit out practice with an ankle sprain.
- Veteran tight end Chris Manhertz continued to sit out practice.
- Rookie cornerback Riley Moss is sitting out after undergoing surgery.
- Veteran nose tackle Mike Purcell continues to be on the NFI list.
- Edge rusher Nik Bonitto and safety Caden Sterns returned to practice today after sitting out yesterday’s practice.
Defensive Coordinator on how OLB Randy Gregory’s skillset fits within the defense
“It fits perfect. Obviously, you just want good players in any system you have, [whether it’s] 3-4, 4-3 or whatever you are talking about front wise. You want rushers. [OLB] Randy [Gregory] is an elite rusher. His best days are ahead of him hopefully, but he is having a solid camp. He’s getting better every single day. He’s made some splash plays in the running game. That’s been surprising to me, but he is what you want.”
Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph on his communication with inside linebackers on the field and their communication with each other
“It’s been great. It was great Friday. [ILB] Josey [Jewell] is obviously a veteran player. He did a great job on the calls and making adjustments and coverage checks. [ILB] Justin [Strnad] did a great job as a backup ‘Mike’ [linebacker]. It was his first time playing the ‘Mike’ [linebacker], so he’s been growing fast. After [ILB] Jonas [Griffith] went down, he moved to ‘Mike.’ He’s done a good job of communicating, playing fast, and playing physical. That’s been his thing in the past, but he is playing physical, shedding blocks, and making plays for us.”
Special Teams Coordinator Ben Kotwica on what led to K Brett Maher’s blocked field against Arizona
“[K] Brett [Maher] has looked really good the last couple days. We did the two-minute drill—I think it was yesterday—and he hit one from 52 and 59, which was really encouraging to see. The performance against Arizona was disappointing. On the blocked field goal specifically, [it was] penetration on that left side. We didn’t do a good enough job of blocking that. The ball could’ve had a little bit higher trajectory, but from that distance, you have to drive it a little bit. To answer your question on that, it was a little bit of penetration, and they ended up getting a piece of it.”
Special Teams Coordinator Ben Kotwica on if he expects CB Tremon Smith to be featured as a returner
“[CB] Tremon [Smith] has more of the kickoff return ability than the punt return ability. I think what you have there is you just have other guys you’re looking at. The cool thing about Tremon is he provides flexibility at multiple positions. If you look at kickoff return, he’s one of our top line blockers on the front line. In the punt return game, he’s very good on the single on the perimeter. The good thing about Tremon is he adds value at multiple positions. As we progress, those things may materialize.”
Special Teams Coordinator Ben Kotwica on what he saw from the team’s kickoff coverage after watching film from the first preseason game
“Kickoff coverage showed a couple things. One, it showed ‘J-Mac’ (CB Ja’Quan McMillian) making two key tackles. It showed physical play by No. 32 (S Delarrin Turner-Yell), who did a really nice job. We want to give those opportunities. You just have to balance it with what’s going on within the parameter of the game. That’s how players are going to get noticed—by giving them the opportunity to make a tackle. That’s why we’re putting the ball into play—again, within the parameters of the game—so that those players, like ‘J-Mac,’ can go out and display their skills. That was a positive play for us.”
Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi on correcting offensive line play from the first preseason game
“You go through practice, and you have a couple of weeks. Guys are working on their technique. Sometimes we ask them to do things a little bit differently. I think it’s natural that the first time under live bullets, sometimes they revert. [It was] just some technique things, and guys went back to old ways of doing things. I think you’re best learning experience is when you do it wrong in a real situation. You can kind of reflect as a player and see how going back to the fundamentals that we’re working on are going to help them.”
Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi on quantifying chemistry among the offensive line
“I think it’s the communication—making sure everyone is on the same page, we are targeting the runs right, we are targeting the protections right, and that they are working together. There are a lot of combination blocks, and it takes a lot of work for those guys to get on the same page. Once they get enough reps, it becomes second nature. That’s a position that [takes reps]. It’s time on task and working together with the guy next to you. So often, these offensive linemen are doing great, and you just switch one guy in and out. It’s not like the new guy is doing poorly, they just don’t have that same chemistry. It takes a lot of work, but I think they are doing a good job
Tweets from Broncos Camp
Not practicing for the Broncos:— Aric DiLalla (@AricDiLalla) August 16, 2023
Looks like Nik Bonitto may be back today. He’s in his pads at the start of practice.
Russell Wilson with a BOMB to Jalen Virgil for a 50-yard TOUCHDOWN during 7-on-7. Virgil was pretty open.— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensDNVR) August 16, 2023
Albert Okwuegbunam drives Marcus Haynes to the ground. Nice run-blocking work from Albert O.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) August 16, 2023
I’ve seen Jalen Virgil attempt three blocks in the middle of the field against linebackers, with the running back following him. (Two on Friday and one today.)— Henry Chisholm (@HenryChisholm) August 16, 2023
He’s won all three. There’s a use for that in Sean Payton’s offense. I think he makes the team.
Great news: Pat Surtain is practicing in team period. Appears he’s fully back.— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensDNVR) August 16, 2023
Ben DiNucci is BALLIN today. Just had a beautiful touch pass inches over a defenders head to hit Montrell Washington on the sideline.— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensDNVR) August 16, 2023
He’s had some really nice passes today
INCREDIBLE TOUCHDOWN CATCH from Adam Trautman.— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensDNVR) August 16, 2023
One-handed and in between three defenders, Trautman came down with a pass from Russell Wilson in the end zone. 18-yard pass.
Probably the catch of camp.
Jarrett Stidham hung in there and made nice throw to Albert O. Hope to see him gain traction this week— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) August 16, 2023
Russell Wilson, with another touchdown pass in the red zone period, hitting Courtland Sutton on a fade route in the back right corner of the end zone— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) August 16, 2023
Russell Wilson is having an INCREDIBLE practice.— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensDNVR) August 16, 2023
Only one incompletion so far and multiple touchdowns in the red zone.
Also had a couple of deep completions.
Top to bottom, I thought this was the best performance of training camp for the #Broncos offense. All three QBs looked sharp during team drills and Russ looks the most confident I’ve seen him in a Broncos uniform. It’s all coming together (hopefully). #KOABroncosCamp— Ryan Edwards (@redwardsradio) August 16, 2023