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Horse Tracks: ‘Chippy’ practice means better intensity for Broncos

Scuffles from both offense and defense during Thursday’s joint practice with the 49ers meant Broncos had picked up their intensity level - as requested.

Good morning, Broncos Country!

49ers receiver Pierre Garçon better be on the lookout Saturday night.

After Garçon tackled Aqib Talib following a pick six from Justin Simmons during the teams’ joint practice Thursday, the wideout found himself at odds with Talib, Chris Harris Jr. and even Von “I like every NFL football player” Miller.

The “fight” was broken up quickly, “no harm, no foul” style. But the Broncos’ defenders have good memories, and Saturday - when the teams square off in a preseason game at Levi’s Stadium - all bets are off.

“Saturday, there’s no holding back,” Harris Jr. said after practice yesterday. “It’s a football game. ...If you watch our film you know that we’re hard hitters, and we’re going to bring it.”

Harris Jr. explained that he just made the play for Simmons to intercept, and once it was tipped, Talib blocked Garçon.

“He just made a block, just a regular block when we were doing interception drills,” Harris Jr. said. “We made the interception, and you always block the intended receiver, and then Garçon just tackled him. ...It was definitely dirty.”

For his part, Talib called the squirmish “just a little wrestling match.”

“It wasn’t anything major,” he said, perhaps recalling a certain bullet in his butt last season. “I’ve been in real fights, that was nothing.”

As fights go, it was nothing. But as intensity in practice goes, it was something.

Something the coaches had been looking for - and not finding - the previous practice.

“We got on them a little bit yesterday. We didn’t feel our intensity was there or the effort was there,” defensive coordinator Joe Woods said. “So the guys came out today. There was a lot more energy. They were playing fast and things got heated. That’s going to happen The guys did a good job of cleaning it up.”

Some of the intensity may have come from knowing that it’s going to take a solid effort from the Broncos’ No. 1 defense on Saturday to keep Kyle Shanahan’s new offense in check.

“I know Kyle. He has a great offensive mind,” said Woods, who worked with Shanahan at Tampa Bay. “You know when you go against him, that you’re going to go against good schemes and the running-pass scheme. If you can defend that and learn how to play, that will help you throughout the season.”

Harris Jr. gave Shanahan a big compliment by saying he’s glad the Broncos won’t face the Niners in a regular season game.

“Going against Kyle Shanahan, he’s a great offensive mind and a great offensive coach. So it was a great week,” Harris Jr. said. “We might not see any teams that run this type of offense. We probably won’t at all. ...The way he designs plays, it’s always great work when you’re going against his top offense.”

The fact that journeyman quarterback Brian Hoyer is receiving high praise for his efforts in this offense speaks for itself when it comes to Shanahan’s abilities - and the Broncos’ No Fly Zone sees it.

“[Hoyer] looks good. He runs the offense well. Shanahan has a hell of an offense,” Talib said. “They get the ball out fast. They move you left and right. It takes a polished quarterback to run an offense. He’s doing a great job.”

Talib added that Shanahan makes the offense work and it takes a lot from the Broncos secondary to adapt.

“He makes you use all of your adjustments,” Talib said, adding the Niners offense is great with its bootlegs. “All in all, it’s a pretty great offense.”

For the Broncos’ offense, Thursday’s practice was also a big improvement over Wednesday’s, according to coach Vance Joseph.

“Yesterday wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t bad, but today was better. It was better,” Joseph said. “It was their first time seeing that scheme [on Wednesday]. It takes time to get together and get adjusted to that scheme.”

The head coach felt good about the Broncos’ training camp and believed the team got better - especially the offensive line.

“Our offensive line has gotten a lot better. That was a major, major goal for us from the spring until now. That part in my opinion has gotten better, as far as the run game and protections,” Joseph said. “Today was a little chippy, but it’s great work. It’s great work for us to see a different color jersey and a different kind of scheme on both sides of the ball. It was a very productive practice.”

Part of the improvement on the O-line has been in attitude. For the most part, Joseph likes what he sees there. Though a pair of fights between the Broncos’ offense and the Niners’ defense on Thursday was skating just over the line of the level of aggression Joseph wants to see.

“We want to be smart bullies. We don’t want to be idiots,” Joseph said, noting penalties that cost good plays. “[Menelik Watson] is an emotional guy, but he’s also a tone setter. [Garett] Bolles is a guy with a serious edge. We want some of that. But, we want to be smart bullies.”


For fun, let’s project Brian Hoyer’s TD/INT ratio against the No Fly Zone on Saturday.

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    0 TDs/0 INTs
    (123 votes)
  • 30%
    (146 votes)
  • 5%
    (25 votes)
  • 29%
    (140 votes)
  • 3%
    (16 votes)
  • 2%
    (13 votes)
  • 0%
    (3 votes)
  • 1%
    Tell us your best guess in the comments!
    (7 votes)
473 votes total Vote Now

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