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2023 Broncos Training Camp: Day 11 news and notes

We have the news and notes from day 11 of Broncos camp.

Denver Broncos 2023 training camp Photo by RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Day 11 of Broncos training camp is officially in the books. They were in shells today and had their final practice before their preseason opener vs. the Arizona Cardinals on Friday. It was another good one for the Broncos offense and we saw vintage Courtland Sutton today.

Today, we have more on Russell Wilson and Courtland Sutton having a strong day, we talk about the depth chart release, news and notes, injury updates, quotes, and more.

Russ Cooks again

The trend of Russell Wilson and the Broncos' offense having a great practice continued once again today. He has stacked multiple great practices in a row now and has been productive while not throwing a single interception during that span.

During today’s practice, Russ was cooking once again and never had a ball hit the ground during the team period. He also was connecting with wide receiver Courtland Sutton and the two had a pretty great day overall.

After practice, Broncos head coach Sean Payton told reporters that the offense having success during training camp is important because they need to gain that confidence. He then stated that is has been an overall good week for the Broncos offense which is something we needed to hear.

“Yeah. I’m just making sure we are progressing as a team. Certainly today, [WR] Courtland [Sutton] had a fantastic practice. I said this before—there are always ebbs and flows to this training camp with defense and offense. Having success offensively is important because you gain that confidence you need, and it only comes from it actually happening. Overall, we’ve had a good week.”

The offense building confidence is key because this unit, specifically quarterback Russell Wilson, was coming off a terrible year that likely hurt their confidence. On top of that, the criticism they all faced during the offseason followed by a slow start to camp put some added pressure on this unit. So, seeing them stack nearly a weeks worth of great practices together is a wonderful thing to see.

Courtland Sutton is having a strong training camp

Courtland Sutton entered camp this year 10 pounds lighter than his past playing weight. He is looking leaner and the benefits of that are showing on the practice field.

NFL Network’s James Palmer recently reported that Sutton was looking quicker off the line, moving well when running his routes, and looking more confident with his knee. He has not looked the same since his 2020 ACL injury but with these changes to his body and Sean Payton now running the offense, he is hoping he regain his pre-ACL injury form.

Today, we saw Sutton look like his 2019 self and that is encouraging.

As Payton stated earlier, Sutton had a fantastic practice today. He was making contested catches against elite corner Patrick Surtain and catching touchdown passes from Russell Wilson. On top of that, he is looking like his former self during this camp which is something we needed to see from him.

After practice, Payton was asked about Sutton and he told reporters that he looks strong, he looks healthy, and that he is moving well. They had a target for him to be at when he arrived at camp and he met that and he concluded by saying that today was “really good”.

“I think he’s strong. I think he’s healthy. In fairness to him, I think he’s healthy. He’s moving well. His body weight was just what we wanted when he reported to camp. I like how he’s been working. Today was really good. It was really good.”

If Sutton can return to his 2019 form where he topped 1,000 yards, or even get close to that, the Broncos' offense would be vastly improved. Especially if Payton can get Wilson back on track and the offense as a whole moving in the right direction.

Like Russ, Sutton needed a training camp like this to build his confidence. He was in trade rumors during the spring and apparently nearly traded to the Ravens at one point, and was coming off multiple down years for him. Hopefully, the confidence he is building can continue throughout the remainder of training camp, into the preseason and obviously, into the regular season.

Broncos release their first depth chart

The Broncos released their first depth chart of the offseason earlier today ahead of their preseason opener on Friday vs. the Cardinals. There are some interesting placements of players on the depth chart like tight end Adam Trautman listed as a starter, but head coach downplayed the significance of the depth chart release.

Payton downplayed the importance of the depth chart. He said “Just understand, we cannot write in pencil, but it’s in pencil” and that it’s just something they have to do. He says the amount of reps a player plays means more overall than where they are on the depth chart.

We have to put together a depth chart, and then we have to give it to you guys. Then I have to answer questions about, ‘Why did you put him first?’ This happens over the course of the year. When we play home games, we introduce the offense or the defense. It’s a multi-personnel game. Week 1, if I am introducing the offense, maybe the fullback gets introduced. Week 2 or the next home game, it’s the defense. The next time around, you introduce the two tight ends and three receivers. It’s not like it used to be, where you just lined up in 21 [personnel] and you’re two minute was in 21 [personnel] and if there was a substitution, it was a big deal. It’s very different, and the same goes defensively. I could have put the slash there, but you guys know it better. Those tight ends are all playing. I think it becomes easier for you all when you start looking at the play totals and you see how much they are being relied upon.”

So, while we can come to some takeaways after looking at the depth chart, it is far from the end result and how they will use these players. It will be more telling to see when and where a player plays on Friday. Will they be with the second or third team? Will they get first-team reps? What roles will they be used at? All these will be more telling than where they are on the initial depth chart.

News and Notes

  • Isaiah Prince once again took first-team reps at right tackle today with Mike McGlinchey sidelined.
  • Broncos worked out wide receivers Ra’Shaun Henry and J.J. Koski today but did not sign them despite previous reports saying they did.

Injury/Attendance Update

  • Rookie cornerback Art Green and edge rusher Aaron Patrick worked on the side field
  • All-Pro safety Justin Simmons sat out another practice due to a groin injury
  • Veteran tight end Chris Manhertz and cornerback K’Waun Williams did not practice today
  • Right tackle Mike McGlinchey is expected to miss a couple of weeks due to a knee sprain
  • Wide receiver Brandon Johnson is expected to miss a week or two due to an ankle sprain
  • Rookie cornerback Riley Moss is out for a few more weeks due to core muscle surgery
  • Veteran nose tackle Mike Purcell remains on the NFI list

Notable Quotes

Broncos Head Coach Sean Payton on if he has concerns regarding the field conditions inside State Farm Stadium

“We’ll go out as best as can ahead of the game and get an idea of which shoes [to wear]. They had trouble with the Super Bowl there. I don’t know if it’s the same field. I know they practice there all during training camp. My experience with that field is that it has always been a fast and firm track. It may not always be green because they are getting so much work on it, but it’s always been a good, firm surface that you can run on. We’ll pay attention to it when we get there. If we have to change what we are wearing, then that is part of the deal.”

Broncos Head Coach Sean Payton on if he relies on the starters to coach up other players once they’re done playing

“That was a little bit more of what I was discussing the other day, and all of a sudden, that made national news. I think that it’s important. I said it last night. It may not be the most important game for a handful of players, but in some cases, it’s the most important game in some players’ lives. [It’s about] the respect for the game and that we are into the game. We pay attention to who’s in, and I think that’s really important. Whoever is in the game, you help them when they come off to the sidelines. [There are] a lot of young players, and for some of them, it is their first game. That’s the good part about it.”

Broncos Head Coach Sean Payton the role of Vice President of Player Health and Performance Beau Lowery

“He oversees all of the training room stuff. He oversees the food service. He oversees the weight room and the players’ health and wellbeing. You guys will get to know him over the course of the season. He is tremendous with the players. A part of that is there is a buy-in. When you are in that position, you’re selling your program and why it is good to be here for your rehabilitation in the offseason. I just saw it all take place in New Orleans, and it’s hard to find those types of guys, it really is. That was a really important hire for us.”

Broncos Head Coach Sean Payton on whether he factors special teams ability as heavily as he did in the past

“We do. It’s not that you’re giving it ‘X’ amount of weight, but we do feel like we coach that area well. There’s still enough meat on the bone where it tilts. If you believe or work with hidden yardage and that each yard is worth a point, or really, 100 yards is seven points, you’re really defending, covering every blade of grass. We have a punter that can throw. We just take an aggressive approach to all of that.”

Broncos Head Coach Sean Payton on his impression of OLB Jonathon Cooper

“He’s pretty explosive. I think he’s got good hands, good length, and I do think he plays hard. This front requires physicality to it. When you’re playing a gap-and-a-half and a two-gap type defense, it’s a very physical front. His explosiveness and his get-off are things that we value.”

Broncos Head Coach Sean Payton on what he’s learned in his career about the importance of efficient communication between the play caller and quarterback

“I think, first off, 90 percent of the errors come from the sender. I’m the sender. My eyes aren’t getting any better, but it’s important that I’m quick. If [Offensive Coordinator] Joe [Lombardi] is calling it, he’s quick. Whoever is giving the play through the headset, it’s quick and efficient. The obvious thing is to get to the line of scrimmage with as much time as possible. The less time you have, the less you can do at the line of scrimmage. In and out, up and down, on and off, quickly with the personnel. Every once and a while as a play-caller, you can get caught watching the game. You need to press that button right when the play ends. You have to start thinking. If it’s 1st-and-10 and you call a play—I’m pretty upbeat and I would say glass half full, but I’m looking at my 2nd-and-10 thoughts, assuming it’s incomplete, then quickly shifting gears. Getting the play in fast to the quarterback is the key. We’re trying to really stress these guys right now, so that in the game, it becomes a little bit easier. We’re on them about getting up to the line of scrimmage. We’re on them. Occasionally, I’ll repeat the play. When you have a fixed game plan, then it’s easy to know the formations, and by the end of the week, you have it. When you have a glossary of training camp, you try to reduce some of the variables. The key for us Friday night is to be able to evaluate our players. The last thing I want is for players to get bogged down because of a shift and a motion. Let’s go play, and then we’ll get into the specifics when the season starts.”

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