Good morning, Broncos Country!
And welcome officially to the worst time of the year for football - the five weeks post-minicamp and pre-training camp.
Luckily the Tour de France will keep you in rapt attention from July 4-26, so really you only have two weeks of boredom.
Wait, you're NOT fans of Le Tour?
Shame. (Whatever sport you think is the most challenging and grueling, multiply it by 100 and you'll have the Tour de France. I can offer tips on how to watch for maximum entertainment, but I digress...back to football).
So if the Tour is not an option, you really do have five weeks to find some hobbies (or clean out the garage?) because our favorite team's players aren't coming back to Dove Valley until July 27 when rookies report and July 30 when the veterans must check in.
But while there won't be anything new to watch, there is plenty over the next month to discuss and debate about an upcoming season that promises to be exciting - and completely intriguing - as so many questions about this team begin to be answered.
And now that Gary Kubiak has finished his first offseason as the Broncos head coach - with all reports indicating a different approach in both scheme and implementation - I can't think of a Training Camp and preseason I've looked forward to more.
So with that in mind, here are three things from offseason workouts that I'm very interested to see how they translate in training camp, preseason, and ultimately, regular season.
Tight end Virgil Green noted that this year's offseason training definitely had a different vibe to it.
"I think it was a lot different," Green said of his fourth Broncos offseason program. "Coach [Gary] Kubiak runs the team in a different way. He strives for perfection. He wants us to finish everything we do, and I think the guys have done a great job of responding."
Harris Jr. pointed out that the main emphasis was "fundamentals and having great technique."
"It was a great offseason," he said. "Guys learned new schemes fast."
"He is coming out with a bang, having practice that's about 30 or 40 minutes, and you go through a really intense individual [period]," said 32-year-old Ware. "It's more competition, going against each other and starting fast."
All good coaches know that you practice the way you want to play. And Kubiak expects this team to come out on fire and stay that way throughout the game.
"That's what he wants this team to do - come out every game and start fast," Ware noted.
Is it too early in the season to say an "Hallelujah?"
OK, I'll just think it. But it will definitely be refreshing to see our team start fast and maintain its intensity throughout an entire game this season.
Reps vs. Rest
So much was made of the rest Kubiak instituted with his veteran players - especially Peyton Manning - but the real story in all that was the reps the new guys were getting.
As expected, there was a lot of interest in how Brock Osweiler handled the first-team offense, and the relatively inexperienced QB was the first to say that while rough at times, he got better - and got better pretty quickly.
"The only thing I know is that it's not hurting me," Osweiler said of the time. "I love the extra reps. I'll take as many as they want to give me. In fact, sometimes I try to sneak in a couple extra. I think it's huge for development in a new offense. I'll take as many as I can get."
Since installing a new offense, Kubiak has had his players in the playbook from before day one. But as Osweiler pointed out, there's only so much studying a player can do.
"You need to get out to the grass and you need to go out there and run those plays," he said. "The more reps you can get, the better you're going to be."
Nowhere was this more true than with the offensive line that is going to see four new starters this season. Whether it is one or several rookies - or depth players picked up in free agency - there's no hiding the fact that this is an untested line.
Thank goodness for all those reps.
Rookie lineman Ty Sambrailo is listed as the starting left tackle to replace Pro Bowler Ryan Clady. His trial by fire - lining up against DeMarcus Ware - has not been unwelcomed for Sambrailo.
"I don't think I touched [Ware] once," Sambrailo said of going against the defensive end, adding that Ware probably knows Manning's snap counts better than he does at this point. "He got off pretty quick and I was chasing him around the hoop."
But that's OK with Sambrailo - going up against one of the best edge rushers in the NFL is only going to be good for him.
"I couldn't have asked for a better situation to be thrown into in terms of learning as a young player going against a guy like that," Sambrailo said of blocking Ware. "I'm going to have my growing pains, but I think that ultimately it will make me a better player."
And it's apparently working as Ware complimented the rookie's progress.
"For him to pick up the offense and know what's going on, but also be able to be effective and have the confidence that he's had, I really compliment him on that," Ware told denverbroncos.com, adding that he and the rookie had "a little scuffle in practice" and Sambrailo showed he can handle it.
"He's waking up," Ware said. "His aggressiveness is coming out. That's what it's about. When you're playing that left tackle, you've got to let guys know that you're that cornerstone of the offense. That's what he's doing."
Fellow O-Line newbie Matt Paradis agrees the reps have been super helpful this season.
A second-year offensive lineman, Paradis is competing for the spot at center - a position that requires quick thinking to understand and signal the play to the rest of the line.
"All the reps we get are huge as far as how comfortable I get with this offense," said Paradis. "Every play, I have to run through all the scenarios and make all the calls - who I'm going to, who they're going to. It's a lot of responsibility. I'm enjoying the heck out of this new offense."
Although rookie defensive end Shane Ray spent more time studying the playbook than getting reps on the field due to a leftover toe injury plus a pulled muscle last week, Ware had good things to say about the limited action he saw from Ray.
"He played really well," Ware said of the first-round draft pick's practice on Tuesday. "He had a couple of sacks. I'm really looking forward to playing with him."
All this practice time for the new guys has got to be good - whether they start or not - and the resting plan seems to be a must if this team is going to play strong at the end of the season.
Bad days more important than good
Following a bad practice on Monday this week, Kubiak straight up said to the media it wasn't a good day.
"Yeah, let me be honest with you, we didn't practice well today. We were kind of sloppy," he said. "We did get going and practiced better at the end of practice, but we've got to push through. It wasn't our best day, that's for sure."
Installing a new offense and changing the defensive scheme are not easy things to do in a few practices a week for two months. The best way to learn fast is to make mistakes now so come game day those mental lapses can be avoided - or at least easily overcome.
Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison pointed out that one of Cody Latimer's strengths has been getting it right the second time around, which has been true of a lot of the new, young players, Dennison said.
"And that's the good thing about getting all those young guys a lot of reps," Dennison said. "Sometimes making a mistake helps you progress. So if you make a mistake, you do better the next time around. You get it right."
Improving on a bad practice/play helps maximize a player's potential. Figuring out how to "do it better next time" makes a player more confident.
Sylvester Williams spoke to that very issue with Troy Renck this week, admitting he has a lot more confidence this year and it's making a difference. Playing behind Terrance Knighton last year, Williams didn't have a lot of playing time on which to rely for experience.
"I did not want to make any mistakes. It definitely slowed me down," Williams told Renck, noting he was "so far down" on the defensive roster, "I didn't want to mess up because I felt like I might not get another opportunity," Williams said.
"It's totally different now," he added. "I want to be on the field more. I want to be a guy this team relies on to win games."
Hall of Fame 2015
MHR Hall of Fame 2015
MHR Hall of Fame 2015
You may be thinking, "Didn't we just have a bunch of posts about the Hall of Fame?" And you'd be right. But those were for last year. This time we're hoping to finish the Hall of Fame that corresponds with last season before the new season actually starts.
Lofty goals, perhaps, but MHR is back on its "win now" philosophy - and even if Topher Doll continues to hold out for the season - our goal is still world championship. Iron sharpens iron.
An overview of the rules will remind you how the process works, and nominations for the four categories will be opening today (and through the weekend) and remain open until Monday, July 6.
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Sean Payton of New Orleans Saints endorses Sarah Thomas, first female official in NFL
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Andy Reid of Kansas City Chiefs hopeful franchised Justin Houston at camp
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Life outside of football 'different' for Adrian Peterson of Minnesota Vikings
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There's only one way to solve this problem.