I showed up earlier than I planned to Dove Valley this morning as I had a hard time sleeping from the excitement of Training Camp. It didn’t take long to find a few old friends already waiting for the gates to open. By the time we were let in, it had begun to sprinkle and the line had tailed all the way out to the parking lot.
Sitting in my usual spot at the 46 yard line, I notice the Jugs machine along the Goal line to my left. The sprinkling stops and I see Gerell Robinson and Matt Prater emerge from the Locker room. The players are in shorts and shells today. The Defense is decked out in the Orange jersey’s, the Offense in White and the four Quarterbacks in blue. The Jugs machine is repositioned to the 20 yard line and the first HORN of Training Camp announces the beginning of practice.
Duke Ihenacho sprints across the field towards the crowd waving his hands to pump up the fans. They respond like they have been missing this for six months. Trindon Holliday, Quincy McDuffie, and Eric Decker shag punts launched by the Jugs machine and Special Teams Coordinator Jeff Rodgers has the Punt Protect Unit. The 1st team consists of David Bruton, Lance Ball, Steven Johnson, Virgil Green, Jacob Tamme, Nate Irving and Danny Trevathan. There are a total of 3 groups for Rodgers to evaluate. HORN.
11 on 11’s begin and Peyton Manning’s first pass goes complete to Demaryius Thomas, who appears ready for the season already. The Offensive Line has from left to right, Chris Clark, Zane Beadles, Manny Ramirez, Louis Vasquez and Orlando Franklin. On Defense, the line is made up of Robert Ayers, Kevin Vickerson, Terrance Knighton and Derek Wolfe. The Linebackers are Von Miller, who ran onto the field at the last second, Nate Irving and Wesley Woodyard. The last line of Defense has the Champ, Rahim Moore, Mike Adams and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Bubba Caldwell and Von Miller are wearing some very colorful Day-Glo socks, but Greg Orton takes the cake with his fluorescent cleats.
In their first attempt together, Peyton Manning is pointing to Wes Welker to cut his route in a different direction. Clearly they still need time to jell, which is understandable. Manning then hits Knowshon Moreno on a checkdown pass and a completion to Jacob Tamme in between 3 passes each to Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas. The matchup to watch however, is the battle between Chris Harris and Wes Welker. These two go at it hard and the little victories seem to go back and forth. David Bruton subs in for Rahim Moore. Joel Dreessen makes a catch and doesn’t appear to be ailing from his recent surgery. Julius Thomas grabs an underneath throw, Welker with a side out completion against Harris. Montee Ball gets his first reception as a Bronco. HORN.
The stretch interval begins as Lance Ball, No. 62 who I believe is Manase Foketi, and Quinton Saulsberry stretch out in front of my position. At this point I hear a round of applause off to my left. Four members of our nation’s finest file in and take a seat over to my right. At this point, I am proud to be a Bronco fan and an American. HORN.
The players break off into their positional groups to drill with their individual coaches. Running Backs coach Eric Studesville has his charges running a ladder drill with the strings elevated as opposed to the Wide Receivers, who have their own version with the exception that their ladder is on the ground and they are toe tapping and high stepping through it while a coach passes to them. The Tight Ends are hitting an individual sled practicing “standing up” a Defensive Lineman. The Quarterbacks are during drop back drills and the Offensive Line is during 5 on 5’s against one another. After a bit, the Running Backs join the QB’s for hand offs using a mat that designates running lanes. 5 minutes later, the QB’s and Wide Receivers begin passing drills. Lamaar Thomas and Quincy McDuffie grab my attention. They both look quick, but McDuffie has a “Cheetah Mode.” I am definitely going to keep an eye on this kid. HORN.
Two of the Quarterbacks join a group for 7 on 7 running drills and the other two (Manning and Osweiler) supply passes for the Wide Receiver/Cornerback 1 on 1’s. Since this is my favorite drill during Training Camp, it holds my focus.McDuffie goes up against Mario Butler three or four times during this segment and while Mario shows terrific recovery and closing speed, Quincy edges him out in the match up through determination and staying with the play. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (DRC) breaks up a pass intended for Eric Decker.
Kayvon Webster goes up against Andre “Bubba” Caldwell and shows quick hips that lose nothing transitioning from his backpedal. This kid is smooth and it’s no wonder why the Broncos used a 3rd round pick on him. Wes Welker gets the best of Chris Harris and makes a catch deep even though Chris has a hold of his jersey. Rahim Moore gets the Defense’s first Interception when he steps in front of a pass intended for Joel Dreessen. Ryan Katz completes a pass to McDuffie, who breaks away from Mario Butler and is gone. Trindon Holliday makes a grab in front of Omar Bolden and loses his helmet in the process of making a diving catch. Webster gets the better of Bubba Caldwell, but the battle between Decker and DRC is a good one. Duke Ihenacho misses a pick when a pass hits him right in the hands.Joel Dreessen makes a catch on Mike Adams in another good battle. Tony Carter breaks up a pass intended for Demaryius Thomas after a big time Pass Interference grab by Carter HORN.
The units switch sides and direction as another round of 7 on 7’s begin. Peyton hits Ronnie Hillman on a checkdown and then overthrows incomplete at the sideline for Demaryius with Adams and Champ Bailey have over and under coverage. Manning and DT connect on an 8-yard square-in. Then Manning and Welker complete a sideline out as the 2nd team rotates in.
The Chain gang sets up on the sideline and gets involved in this drill. Brock Osweiler’s first pass attempt is dropped by newcomer Stewart Bradley, who seemed surprised at the gift. Brock then completes a pass to Montee Ball, who is defended by Danny Trevathan. Knowshon Moreno is the recipient of Osweiler’s next throw as this drill moves downfield. Brock throws a pass intended for Tavarres King, but Tony Carter picks it off. The 3rd teams rotate in and Zac Dysert completes passes to Jeremiah Johnson, Lamaar Thomas and then throws an Interception late over the middle to Uona Kaveinga. Dysert throws a pass incomplete behind McDuffie. HORN. Coach Fox yells, “Take a break!”
The Jugs machine is set up at the 20 yard line again and the Punt Unit begins the next segment. Decker, Welker, Holliday and McDuffie are back shagging punts as coach Rodgers has his guys working on their “Get Offs.” They do a few ‘live simulation’ reps until the next HORN.
11 on 11 drills commence with a Manning pass attempt for Demaryius Thomas. Rahim Moore pounds the ground in frustration thinking that he should have had an Interception on the play. Manning’s next pass is complete to Decker even though DRC has him blanketed. Two short passes to Hillman and Montee Ball and Osweiler rotates in with the “two’s.”
Brock’s first offering is behind Bubba Caldwell and two defenders have a shot at the pick, but neither are able to come down with the ball. After a handoff to Montee Ball, Osweiler completes a pass to college buffy Gerell Robinson. Tavarres King makes a catch on a crossing route and Brock’s last pass is tipped incomplete. Zac Dysert’s first throw is tipped and Uona Kaveinga intercepts it. Then C.J. Anderson gets a carry. Dysert’s last pass is behind Julius Thomas. HORN.
They switch directions for another round of 7 on 7 drills. Manning hooks up with Decker and then goes back to the well again and Rodgers-Cromartie is there yo break up the pass. Peyton tries to hit Welker and Mike Adams breaks that pass up. Then Manning tries unsuccessfully to complete a pass to Jacob Tamme, but the throw is too low.
Osweiler comes in and throws complete to Virgil Green. On the next play, Osweiler hits Tavarres King deep for a long Touchdown and the highlight of the day. Zac enters and completes passes top Lamaar Thomas, C.J. Anderson and Kemonte’ Bateman before the HORN.
They switch sides once more and Peyton completes a pass to Dreessen and two to Eric Decker. Osweiler connects with Bubba Caldwell and on the next play is “Sacked” by Malik Jackson. After a handoff to Jeremiah Johnson, Lerentee McCray blitzes and is in Brock’s face when he turns from his drop back. Dysert comes in and completes passes to Jacob Hester and Lance Ball. Lance takes a handoff and rips off a pretty good run. Then Hillman gets a carry, running behind Hester’s lead block. Manning comes back in and misses Decker deep with DRC defending well. Peyton’s next pass is low for Demaryius and Chris Harris breaks it up.
Brock is back in and completes passes to Welker and Caldwell, then hands off to Montee Ball. Dysert completes to C.J. Anderson and then should have been intercepted by Ross Rasner. Anderson gets another carry before the HORN blasts and Fox tells the guys to get some water.
The Special Teams unit begins the next segment with the Punting Unit during live reps and Britton Colquitt finally getting some work in. Quincy McDuffie and Trindon Holliday are back shagging punts and Colquitt booms 50-yarders consistently. McDuffie gets a live return rep and shows some nice moves. Holliday, not to be upstaged by the rookie, shows of some nifty moves of his own on the ensuing play. HORN.
11 on 11’s make up the final segment as Peyton Manning’s pass for Julius Thomas is broken up by David Bruton. Manning’s next two passes are intended for Decker. The first is complete over DRC and the second is overthrown. After a handoff to Ronnie Hillman, Peyton has to throw the ball away because Robert Ayers is in his face. Osweiler comes in and completes a pass to Caldwell with Tony Carter covering and then Ayers is there for the Sack on Brock on the follow up play. Montee Ball gets another carry. Then Osweiler leads Tight End Lucas Reed too much. Brock throws to Tavarres King and on the next play, holds on too long and ends up running down the sideline on the last play of practice. HORN.
After the team huddle breaks, the Defensive Line comes over for autographs. I manage to get Shaun Phillips, Terrance Knighton and Robert Ayers signatures and barely miss out on Derek Wolfe even after the crowd rushes at Peyton Manning.
It’s been a pleasant first day at Dove Valley to open the Broncos 2013 Training Camp and yes, the excitement still remains.
– Kaptain Kirk