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Sean Payton looking for reduced mental errors, professional approach to first preseason game

Broncos head coach understands mistakes. But what he doesn’t want to see are players not taking the game seriously.

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

Broncos’ will play their preseason opener this Friday, and that means the first official depth chart will be released - even if Sean Payton isn’t all that happy about it.

“We have to, so it starts with that,” he said Monday after a closed practice. “Just understand, we can’t write it in pencil, but it’s in pencil.”

But whether a player’s name is really in ink or pencil this weekend, the new head coach is looking for a few important things from every player - primarily not making mental mistakes.

“Hopefully, mental errors are reduced,” he said, while noting there are always mistakes. “So I keep talking to them about getting onto the next play. That’s important.”

Payton added that it’s easier for him to tell everyone what he does NOT want to see on Friday.

“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,” he said. “That’s what I don’t want to see, but we will communicate all of that.”

If Friday’s game is a dress rehearsal for the season, Thursday’s practice will be a dress rehearsal for how things are going to work under this new regime on game days.

“I’m going to cover the sideline. I’m going to cover the roles, how we are going to play guys, and what we are looking for in the game,” Payton said, noting with a new staff there are new protocols. “For Thursday’s practice, we will come onto the field out of the south corner, and we will paint the picture. Our bench is over there in Arizona, and it will be the first time they see what we do in pregame, stretching wise. It will be game-like, and we will go through all of that.”

One of the “game-like” emphases during Monday’s practice was including the play clock, and Payton said the primary reason was to put guys under pressure and emphasize the required sense of urgency for being in the right place at the right time. Payton has clearly watched film from last season.

“The tempo we have been stressing—there is a lot we are giving the quarterbacks at times,” he said. “Obviously, if you get to the line of scrimmage with 15 seconds [remaining], there is a lot you can do. If you get to the line of scrimmage with six seconds [remaining], there is not a whole lot you can do. Just working through the mechanics of all of that.”

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