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7 things we’ve learned after 7 days of Training Camp

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The defense is still amazing; the offense is getting better.

NFL: Denver Broncos-Training Camp Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Broncos Country!

Wow, is it good to be talking about actual football again, or what?

Since we’re more than halfway through Training Camp and have a scrimmage coming tomorrow, it seems like a good time to assess where we are ... and talk about seven things we’ve learned so far:

No. 1 - The QB competition isn’t about one series (or day)

So, I’m only sort of breaking my promise a few weeks ago not to talk about the quarterback competition, because I’m not actually talking about which guy is in the lead - so it totally doesn’t count (right?)

But seriously, let’s get real about this.

I have stated before that I’m personally not a fan of quarterback competitions. I think it would be better overall to have the guy you want as starter getting all the reps he can during training camp so that preseason is a warm-up and not a test.

But that was not to be in the cards for this team, so I have also argued just to let the competition play out and avoid a horse-race competition update.

So obviously, I am hating the Internet right now.

And obviously the competition is close, or we wouldn’t still be having this conversation.

That said, I try to decipher the big picture among the narrow views because that’s what Vance Joseph and Mike McCoy and Bill Musgrave are trying to do. They know what they have in the two quarterbacks; they want to find out which QB can be better than his natural tendency right now.

Trevor Siemian is playing safe football, and Paxton Lynch is playing more aggressive. Depending on which style you like better, you probably see that QB as “winning.”

But that would be shortsighted.

“[Paxton’s] deal right now is to put good plays together back to back to back. That’s what we want from Paxton right now,” Joseph said Thursday after practice. “You can see his play-making ability. He can put a ball into the field. He can scramble with it. We want more plays being made back to back to back. We’ll put him in the place for it.”

With Siemian, Joseph sees a consistent player who doesn’t make many mistakes.

“Trevor has been solid. He hasn’t done a lot of huge error stuff I should say,” the coach added. “He’s been solid. He’s been Trevor. He’s been consistent.”

Listening to these quotes - and reading his other comments over the past week about wanting an offense that scores points - I believe Joseph is looking for each guy to be a little bit more like the other. He wants an aggressive quarterback who can consistently make the right call.

And he just hasn’t been able to see that in either yet.

I’m convinced the coach doesn’t care all that much about the stats in each practice but more about each QB’s decision-making overall - after a body of work to assess from many different scenarios. I doubt the scrimmage does too much to answer that (I mean, six plays???) – but the preseason game next week should be telling.

No. 2 - Jamaal Charles is who we thought he was

I know it’s only been two days of really seeing Jamaal Charles taking any kind of reps, but even after a couple of early mix-ups in team drills Thursday, the stud running back showed why he is a true threat - his ability to not just run with but also catch the ball and turn on the gas for more yards.

“With Jamaal getting more team reps ... you can see his play-making ability,” Joseph said. “He’s going to be key for us.

“...If we can get 10 to 12 specialty plays a game for Jamaal - screens, wheel routes and outside runs - that’s going to make us a better football team.”

No. 3 - Adam Gotsis is going to be who we thought he was

Could it be that he finally has “got-sis?”

OK, OK.

But for real, the Aussie seems to be hitting a sophomore stride that is going to be key for the defense.

“I'm definitely way more comfortable now,” he said after Thursday’s practice, calling his first year just “a big blur.” “I feel like I've finally settled in, I've got my confidence and I feel ready to play.”

No. 4 - The Broncos offensive line is better, tougher

Matt Paradis once told me that he’s rarely played a year of football where fans didn’t complain about the offensive line. “We’re used to it,” he said (at Super Bowl 50, no less).

But will this be the year the Broncos O-Line gets some props?

Well, let’s not get carried away just yet, but there is reason for optimism. I mean, if Von Miller is handing out props, then pay attention.

“They're great. Garett is going to be great for us,” Miller said. “When he goes out there, he already has that mentality that he wants to work. I see him before the play telling C.J. [Anderson], I don't want a chip, I don't need any help. If you've got an offensive lineman like that, he's trying to win. He's not out there just trying to not get beat. To have that mentality at a young age is incredible.”

Miller added that Watson is “the tough guy in the group. ...The energy and the support comes through him.”

But Miller is feeling good about the entire line, which he calls “tougher.”

“I feel great about all of those guys,” he said. “The attitude and the energy is up and that's what you need out of your offensive linemen.”

John Elway weighed in as well, calling this line “a lot, lot better” and probably one of the things he’s most excited about from this year’s training camp.

Paradis has noticed a positive change in the O-line’s dynamic - some of which he credits to the new guys.

“It’s a lot easier to have that energy and set that tone when you have a bunch of guys with you,” he said. “The guys we have in the room really are all about that.”

No. 5 - Von Miller is still amazing

Whether Miller is hamming it up with the fans, building up his teammates, complimenting his rivals, or showing off via Instagram his personal chef’s latest healthy creations, No. 58 is a great leader for this team.

But he’s still nothing but serious when he’s on the field.

“I just work. Every single day when we get a break, I go work. I'm not going home, going to get lunch or taking a break,” Miller said, noting that he’s taking a few pages from the playbooks of DeMarcus Ware and Peyton Manning. “I like to take advantage of every single minute that I've got and really try to transfer that into my game. I feel like all of the greats did that. ...That's what I'm trying to do, I'm trying to take advantage of all of the time that I have to improve my game.”

The “work” is showing too. Although this defense isn’t sacking its own QB right now, observers have certainly noted how often No. 58 “could have” had a takedown.

No. 6 - This offense is going to be fun

No more 10-3-10.

We’ve been hearing rumblings throughout the offseason about how exciting this offense is going to be from everyong - the quarterbacks, our tandem wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, the tight ends and even the O-line.

Sanders - who loves the prospect of a pass-happy offense - believes this scheme will be the best combination of run and pass.

“I think our run game is going to be explosive this year, and it’s going to open up the pass. We’re going to be able to pass the ball to open up the run,” Sanders said, adding that a good run game will force the defense to go man on him and DT - and then it’ll be all over. “I think our run game is going to be so good with this line if they could continuously improve with C.J. [Anderson], (De’Angelo) Henderson, and Jamaal, and all those guys in the back field. ...I think we’ll have a great offense. That’s where we’re headed to.”

And it’s nice to see some play-makers coming out of the rookie class too. Carlos Henderson, De’Angelo Henderson and Isaiah McKenzie have show good stuff in camp and could be called upon to be more than just back-ups.

“He’s figuring out what to do,” Joseph said of Carlos Henderson. “That’s also important for a rookie. He can make plays fast. He’s a big, strong, guy with the ball in his hands. He’s a very, very engaged player. He loves to play the game. We’re excited about Carlos.”

But most importantly, when the No Fly Zone - which led the Broncos to a second consecutive year as the NFL’s No. 1 pass defense - mentions how hard it is having to work against the offensive scheme this season, then there is reason to believe it.

“Definitely. They're making us work in practice, making us use all our tools and making us communicate heavily,” Aqib Talib said on Thursday. “We definitely are getting great work at practice going against those guys.”

No. 7 - Man, Aqib Talib, man, needs to give pressers every week, man

Seriously. He’s dope, man.

I love his comments to questions almost as much as I love his instinct to pull someone’s chain (and I loved that).

Speaking on everything from his interception of Lynch the day before to Sanders’ claim that the wide receiver is a “jet in the no fly zone,” Talib was on fire with his presser Thursday.

“That's dope,” he said about being the highest rated cornerback with Chris Harris Jr. on Madden 18. “I grew up a Madden player but I haven't played the game in maybe six or seven years. ...I might get Madden 18 just to hit that button [and sort the ranking].”

Asked whether he thinks much about other teams trying to use “No Fly Zone,” Talib just laughed.

“They have no plays on tape, it's cute,” he said. “We get a good kick out of it.” get a good kick out of it.”

But despite the humor, Talib keeps it real too. He noted it “would be love” for the entire NFZ to be inducted into the Ring of Fame together, but that’s still years away. This season is right around the corner.

“We have to keep putting it on tape and keep working,” he said. “This season is going to come before that day.”

My favorite was his semi-challenge to Lynch regarding some tips on how Talib intercepted him:

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Horse Tracks

Scrimmage is next benchmark for Denver Broncos' quarterbacks - Denver Broncos Blog- ESPN
It has been a popular narrative on the airwaves in and around Denver that the Broncos had already made their decision at quarterback between Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. Vance Joseph put that thought to bed.

Broncos Training Camp Day 7 Takeaways: Getting set for the Saturday practice
Head Coach Vance Joseph explains why he's calling it a "scrimmage" ... and also talks about how Carlos Henderson has stepped up his game in recent days.

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Rookie Isaiah McKenzie angling to become explosive weapon for Broncos – The Denver Post
In three seasons at Georgia, McKenzie returned five punts for touchdowns, a school record aided by the speed that allowed him to clock a 40-yard dash time at the NFL combine of 4.42 seconds.

Broncos Quarterback Scoreboard: Consistency is key
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Derek Carr awaits Oakland Raiders' Marshawn Lynch getting physical - Oakland Raiders Blog- ESPN
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Poll

Which player in camp has impressed you the most so far?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Carlos Henderson
    (18 votes)
  • 16%
    De’Angelo Henderson
    (73 votes)
  • 57%
    Garett Bolles
    (260 votes)
  • 7%
    Adam Gotsis
    (32 votes)
  • 2%
    Lorenzo Doss
    (13 votes)
  • 6%
    DeMarcus Walker
    (29 votes)
  • 4%
    "Whorfin"
    (19 votes)
  • 1%
    "Shasta"
    (9 votes)
453 votes total Vote Now