After an off day on Sunday, the Denver Broncos hit the practice field once again for day 9 of training camp. This was a closed practice, so there were no fans, and the media could not tweet anything until after practice and even then, are VERY restricted in what they could say. So, the news for today is lacking, but head coach Sean Payton did give us some interesting news after practice.
He told reporters that the Broncos starters will play 15 to 18 snaps during their preseason opener on Friday vs. the Arizona Cardinals.
HC Sean Payton said the #Broncos’ starters will play 15-18 snaps on Friday against the Cardinals.— Aric DiLalla (@AricDiLalla) August 7, 2023
Payton told reporters that he does not look at length like one quarter or an entire half, instead, he looks at total snaps that they will play. So, instead of playing a series or two, we should see the offensive and defensive starters on the field for about 15 to 18 total snaps on Friday night.
“I’ll give that to you later in the week. I don’t look at length, I look at snaps. I don’t know—15 snaps, 17, 18 snaps. Somewhere in there. Phase 1, then Phase 2, then Phase 3. You could be in Phase 1 on offense and Phase 2 on defense because the game started with maybe a lot of plays where your defense was on the field if that makes any sense. It’s not time in the game, it’s really more of a pitch count for these guys.”
If Payton sticks with this mindset during the game on Friday, we should see the offensive and defensive starters on the field for at least a series or two. If that is the case, they may end up playing all of the first quarter before we see the second-team offense and defense take the field. I am sure this is a fluid situation where the offense may get pulled after one series if they go 8 to 10 plays and score a touchdown, but we shall see.
As we know, last season under Nathaniel Hackett, the Broncos starters played zero snaps during the preseason. Looking back, that decision looks like a mistake and now with veteran head coach Sean Payton running this team, things are going to look very different this preseason. Not only are we going to see Russell Wilson and the rest of the starters play some snaps, but Payton also has a long checklist of things he wants to see from his players.
“Then, I think more specifically to your question, you want to see guys who are playing full speed, they know what to do and you are able to evaluate them versus a different scheme. We’ve been seeing the same offense or defense, so now we get to see a different opponent. Hopefully, mental errors are reduced. It’s a game always with mistakes, so I keep talking to them about getting onto the next play. That’s important. It’s probably just as easy to answer the question as to what I don’t want to see. I don’t want to see 10 guys on the field. I don’t want to see uniforms off after we’re done playing [with] sunglasses on and Gilligan hats on and interviews during the game. That’s what I don’t want to see, but we will communicate all of that.”
Payton wants to see his team cut down on the costly mental errors that we have seen them make all last year and at times, during training camp this year. He wants the entire team focused on the game and what it is going on, even if they are done for the day. He told reporters he does not want to see players with their uniforms off or with “sunglasses and Gilligan hats” on while on the sideline. He also does not want his players to do interviews with the media in the middle of the preseason game like we normally see them do.
This no-nonsense/team-first approach is something I like to see from Payton and will likely help him decide who makes the 53-man roster. If a player is making these mental errors or is proving not to be fit for the culture he is trying to build in Denver, they will not make this team. So, this will be an interesting dynamic to watch as we progress through the preseason.