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2023 Broncos Training Camp: Day 8 news and notes

News and notes from Day 8 of Denver Broncos training camp.

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

Day 8 of Broncos camp is in the books and today, they were not in full pads, just shoulder pads, helmets, and shorts. The Denver Broncos have an off day tomorrow before having a closed practice on Monday before having two more practices open to fans before their preseason opener vs. the Arizona Cardinals.

Today, we have Russell Wilson having his best day and throwing multiple touchdowns, Payton says starters will play in the preseason opener, Payton talked about Drew Sanders, and we have news and notes, injury/attendance updates, quotes, and more.

Russell Wilson has his best day of practice (again) and throws multiple touchdown passes

Yesterday, quarterback Russell Wilson had his best day of training camp according to most accounts. Today, he continued that trend by having an even better day of practice that was capped off by a long 45+ yard touchdown pass to Jerry Jeudy to end the practice.

This long touchdown came during the final drill of practice during a team period where the offense was running a two-minute drill and needed a touchdown. With 24 seconds left on the clock, wide receiver Jerry Jeudy streaked down field and Russell Wilson hit him in stride for a touchdown. Cornerback Damarri Mathis had good coverage, but it was just a good pass from Wilson and a great play by Jeudy.

During a red zone period earlier in practice, Russell Wilson threw a touchdown pass to Brandon Johnson. However, Jonathon Cooper likely would have sacked him under normal circumstances, but still, Wilson completed a pass in the end zone. Then, Wilson hit running back Samaje Perine for a two-point conversation later in that drill. He was wide open, but again, we will take it.

Head Coach Sean Payton said it was an encouraging end of practice but still was bothered by the penalties during their first attempt.

“It was more encouraging than the way the two-minute drills started. Again, we had penalty, penalty. We’re working through some of that. I’ve said this repeatedly—there are ebbs and flows to some of these drills. The first set of two-minute reps were [that we] need a field goal and then the last role was [we] need a touchdown. What else?”

The offense was not perfect today and this was evident during their first team drill to end practice. They had multiple penalties which had him start with a 1st and 25 before going three and out with a 4th and 18. That is not ideal, but if Wilson can continue to play well and they can get these issues worked out, the offense could look promising this upcoming season.

Broncos starters to play in the preseason opener

Last year, we did not see the Broncos starters play at all during the preseason under head coach Nathaniel Hackett. That proved to be a mistake and that will change this season under new head coach Sean Payton.

He told reporters after practice that the starters will play in the preseason opener, but he doesn't know how long and if certain injured players will play or not, but “we can expect our guys to play a little bit”.

“Yeah, I haven’t shelled it out yet, but they’re going to play. We’ll figure out how many snaps. We typically break a game into three phases—first, second, third phase—and then special teams, we might just do two phases, but we’ll have a plan, especially as we get into next week. I’ve got a few notes written down. I don’t have a pitch count. I don’t have an exclusion list if someone’s got a light injury that we back—but we can expect our guys play a little bit.

We may not see Javonte Williams and other key veterans who have been eased back into action, but otherwise, we should see the Broncos starters out there. When asked if quarterback Russell Wilson would be among these players, Payton quipped “That would include [QB Russell Wilson]—he’s a player.”

The Broncos travel to Arizona later next week before playing their preseason opener against the Cardinals on Friday night. They will game plan for that game on Thursday, but have regular camp practices on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday according to Payton.

“Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday will be Broncos practice, Thursday will be Cardinals emphasis. We’ll travel Thursday night, walk through Friday, then play Friday night and come home. In the regular season, the whole week would be obviously devoted to the game. In the preseason, you’re still putting in stuff, and so we’re not [on] Monday starting on Arizona. That’ll come later in the week.”

This will be our first look at a Sean Payton coached Broncos team on the field and we’ll see the starters as well. A strong start by the offense and quarterback Russell Wilson will help ease some concerns we have after last season.

News and Notes

Injury/Attendance Report

Notable Quotes

Head Coach Sean Payton on if he expects a learning curve with installs

“I think there is because it’s a separate segment of plays. I want them, more than just learning the plays, to learn and understand the situations that arise in two minutes. Every half ends in a two-minute [drill], for the most part, and then more often than not, the games do. The circumstances with each two-minute—there can be a hundred. At the end of the half, you’re thinking, ‘Hey let’s get in field goal range.’ Maybe you get more aggressive if you cross the 50-[yard line] and there’s still enough time on the clock, then at the end of the game, all those situations that take place relative to time-outs—if you have them, if you don’t have them—what are the ways that you get down the field and then what do you expect defensively to defend. We covered Hail Mary; we covered St. Pat’s. There are some nuances within the framework of those situations, and like I said, we’ve got 10 more in two-minute [drills] that we’ll have to cover that come up in games that our guys have to understand. We don’t have timeouts, we need a chunk play, we get it, receiver slides, we get up, clock the ball—all those types of things they have to understand, and we have names for them. There’s an element of the plays that they have to study, but they also have to understand the situation. The first bit of information is right there on the scoreboard—timeouts, time, score. Hopefully we get where everyone’s thinking the same way.”

Sean Payton on how important it is for every person on the roster to understand the situations

“I think it’s important enough, or else I probably wouldn’t bring everyone up. This game has a tendency to lead to, ‘If it doesn’t pertain to me, then I don’t need to know it,’ and there are certain things that I think pertain to most everyone, and those are the ones we’re discussing as a group. I want, in a perfect world, the sideline to be thinking exactly how I’m thinking when these things arise. Players—and I’m looking at them and smiling, like, ‘You got it.’ That’s being a smart football team. We’ve got a board of 48 or 50 of them in there and we check them off. We put a check every time we’ve covered it, and hopefully by the start of the regular season we’ve hit these things two or three times. We’ll have a half an hour where we’ll just cover it. We have a video library of these situations that we can actually show them: This is what happened, this is why, this is the mistake made or maybe this is what was done well. But there are so many of those things that can come up in a game that I think you have to individually address them. Then sometimes it may just be for the kicking team and the O-line doesn’t need to know it, so we’ll handle it in special teams.”

Head Coach Sean Payton n what he’s seen from ILB Drew Sanders so far this training camp

“Good. There’s a learning curve. Yet, you see physicality, you see speed. His stature, his length, all of those things. He’s going to be someone that does a lot of things for us. We see him certainly getting reps in the kicking game. I’ve been encouraged.”

Head Coach Sean Payton on the mental discipline and focus of the team so far

“If you ask a coach that question, it’s probably never going to be the perfect answer, but it’s getting better. It’s something that I go back to the pre-snap penalties from a year ago, and that’s before we ever snapped the ball, it was something we struggled with on both sides of the ball, so that has to get better. I mentioned before, you begin to learn how to win, but you also start by figuring out how not to lose. Man, I think they’re eager. I think they’re working hard. I just finished telling them this weekend, typically around the league, years ago, used to be a scrimmage weekend. You guys have covered this team for a while. [Pro Football] Hall of Fame weekend was always a Saturday scrimmage. Ones versus twos. Twos versus ones. Threes versus threes, and you’d have maybe 80 plays, but that’s changed a little bit over the years. We got good work in today, they’ll be off tomorrow and then back at it Monday. I think it’s something that—and look, part of that is bringing in the right players, too, the procurement of who you’re bringing in.”

Head Coach Sean Payton on being able to evaluate guys a little longer than normal with a change in the roster cut down days

“I think what you are referencing is we are back to one cut down, which is kind of what I’m used to. I know that there have been years where we went to 70, 75 and then down to 53. I think the key is when you get to 53, there are a lot of players. Thirty-two teams are going from 90 to 53. Now I know a lot of the players are going to go to the practice squad. I don’t know the math between 53 and 90—37, so 37 times 32. Immediately, that’s a lot of players that are available. I don’t mean there is stress that way, but man there are players when that happens. That’s how we found [Saints TE] Taysom Hill. He was one of those players and at midnight, we are looking at film and we keep looking and we’re looking at another player—[former Broncos WR] Ed McCaffrey’s son was who we were looking at, Max [McCaffrey]. We see this other guy and then we look at more film. By the time it’s one in the morning, we are going to put a claim in for him and we get awarded a really good football player. I would say a lot of time and energy is spent on the right 53—that’s what I think about, the right 53. We try to educate our players not to just look at the line in front of them. If you are a receiver, you’re competing against the other 31 teams’ depth at receiver as well. That’s important. It’s hard for them to understand that.”

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