The 46 yard line vantage spot that has been my daily residence at Training Camp is once more occupied by my posterior. There are two JUG’s machines set up at the 30 yard line to my right. Tavarres King’s daily ritual of being the first player out on the field is upheld as he and C.J. Anderson arrive. When the players are all assembled, the HORN signals the start of practice.
The Special Teams drill today is a pop fly for the up men on the Kickoff Receiving team to field. Now these positions are generally held by Linemen and the reason is evident during this segment. Linemen, other than Centers, are used to handling the football and some even go so far as to shy away from it. The first two participants are Mitch Unrein and Malik Jackson and they go one for two. Mitch makes the catch and Malik muffs his chance. Players line up in two separate lanes like a lay up drill in Basketball and the twin JUG’s keep firing projectiles for the players to field. As noted earlier, this went off with mixed results. However, it had to be covered in order to prepare the players for readiness when the season begins. HORN.
The Offense works by themselves in walkthroughs. The practice group of other Offensive players are wearing sleeves to indicate the Safeties and Linebackers. I can see that Nate Irving and Sylvester Williams are back on the field after their absence yesterday. Quinton Carter, Jacob Tamme, Quincy McDuffie, Orlando Franklin and Jeremiah Johnson are not practicing and I don’t see Greg Orton either. I am informed by Vic Lombardi via Twitter, that the team signed Tight End D’Angelo Peterson and he will take the No. 86 uniform. Ten minutes later, the Defense joins the Offense and walk through’s continue. HORN.
The Stretch interval commences and the crowd rises to join the players. Duke Ihenacho starts up with the catcalls he began yesterday and the crowd responds to that too. This works to lighten the work atmosphere for the players and showed just how tight the bond between Bronco fans and “Their” players. Wesley Woodyard leads the stretch and introduces a few players for the fans to applaud and naturally, the loudest come when he introduces “a man by the name of Peyton.” HORN.
Time now for the Individual position drills to take place. Over on the opposite field, the Defensive Backs are during Fumble Recovery drills, the Linebackers go one-on-one and the Defensive Linemen do the same. In front of me, the Wide Receivers begin with a short passing drill and transition to Ladder drills after that. The Quarterbacks are weaving up and back through the low hurdles that resemble parking curbs. The Tight Ends are practicing in line and pass blocking against one another and the Offensive Line does 5 on 5 drills.
After a quick HORN, the drills change as the Quarterbacks and Running Backs work together in handoff drills and the Wide Receivers do a contact after catch drill where two receivers hold onto a Hand pad and smack the Receiver after he catches a pass and prior to him tucking the ball away. The guys with the pads go easy on the other veterans and smack the rookies a bit harder, but in a playful not unkind manner. After a few minutes, the Receivers join the Quarterbacks for some tandem (2 QB’s passing to 2 WR’s) passing drills. The new Tight End, D’Angelo Peterson, needs an extra stretch session with a trainer. HORN.
11 on 11’s from the 1 yard line. Offense Breakout drills. Montee Ball takes the first handoff 8 yards. Peyton throws a flare out to Jacob Hester, who makes a “Dave Casper-like” over the shoulder catch and keeps running for about 15 yards. Montee Ball runs to the right for another 3 yards. After Sylvester Williams bites on Peyton Manning’s hard count, Ronnie Hillman runs for 5 yards.
The second team begins their first rep with a False Start penalty. The Brock Osweiler connects with Lamaar Thomas even though the pass was tipped at the high point by Omar Bolden. Brock overthrows Jake O‘Connell and then Knowshon Moreno carries the ball for 5 yards. Zac Dysert leads the 3rd unit out and hands the ball off to C.J. Anderson for 4 yards. Another False Start occurs and then Anderson rips off a 6 yard run. Dysert hits Kemonte’ Bateman on a slant and there’s the HORN.
7 on 7’s begin with Peyton Manning going 5 for 5, completing passes to Virgil Green, Eric Decker, a pair to Demaryius Thomas and a dump off to Ronnie Hillman. A very crisp showing for the “1’s” after a horrendous performance yesterday. Hopefully the guys are back on track.
The “2’s” begin their reps with Tavarres King dropping a pass from Osweiler. A swing pass to Montee Ball is caught and then another offering for King is short hopped to the rookie Receiver. Brock hits Lamaar Thomas on a quick slant and then the “3’s” take the field. Zac Dysert completes passes to Kemonte’ Bateman and Gerell Robinson. HORN.
11 on 11’s again. I finally notice how the Offensive Line is put together today, considering the absence of both starting Tackles. From left to right, Zane Beadles, Ryan Lilja, Manny Ramirez at Center, Louis Vasquez and Chris Clark at Right Tackle. Ronnie Hillman runs for 4 yards. Ronnie gains another 4 on a spinback and reversing direction. Montee Ball gains 4 yards and then it’s Brock’s turn.
Montee Ball and Knowshon Moreno gain 2 yards each on consecutive plays and then Moreno Fumbles the ball in the backfield. After recovering his own gaffe, he gains another 2 yards on the following play. The third unit trots out. On the first snap, Zac Dysert bootlegs right after a play action fake and looks downfield, but Quanterus Smith leaps up and swats the ball down. C.J. Anderson gains maybe a yard on the next rushing attempt. Anderson takes the next carry to the right, but his lead blocker, Jake O’Connell, is manhandled and stuffed back into his face for a loss on the play. Lance Ball takes the next carry around the left side for 15 yards. HORN.
After a short water break, another round of 11 on 11’s begins with situational drills. 2:29 on the clock at the end of the game. The objective is to protect the lead and run out the clock from the far 40 yard line. Ronnie Hillman stumbles for a yard after getting tripped up in the backfield. After a False Start by Eric Decker, Hillman runs for another yard and loses his helmet in the process. Jacob Hester and Wesley Woodyard tug at each other’s Face Masks before Coach Fox tells them to get back in the huddle. The first unit arrives at 4th down with 17.1 seconds remaining with the Punting unit on the field. Trindon Holliday gets about 10 yards on the return.
The second unit begins with a Montee Ball rush for no gain. Brock Osweiler hits Lamaar Thomas at the sideline and the rookie receiver steps out of bounds to stop the clock. After a pass breakup by Mario Butler, Osweiler completes a [pass to Gerell Robinson. Montee Ball loses 3 yards on one play and gains 5 on the next. After another carry for two yards, the Punt Unit is forced to hurry on the field and get the play off. They are successful. The third teams effort is decided upon three carries by Lance Ball, who gets nothing, 1 yard and 2 yards on consecutive carries. HORN.
Special Teams Kickoff Return Unit takes reps against the “Red Hats.” Trindon Holliday, Omar Bolden, Bubba Caldwell and Mike Adams take turns returning kicks. Two surprise Onside Kicks are attempted at different times during this 10 minute segment, but the return unit alertly falls on both tries. HORN.
Red Zone 11 on 11’s are the object of the next 10 minutes. Manning throws for Eric Decker in the End Zone, but Champ Bailey is there and nearly Intercepts the pass, glancing off the goal post pad in the process. A fade to Decker has Von Miller called for “Face Guarding.” Manning throws a slant to Ronnie Hillman, who runs over Duke Ihenacho at the 1 to score a Touchdown. Manning’s next pass goes for another TD to Julius Thomas. Another pass attempt for Julius is broken up by Duke Ihenacho. From the 1 yard line, Montee Ball fails to convert.
The “2’s” get their turn as the ball is spotted back at the 15 yard line. Montee Ball gains 5 yards. Then Osweiler hits Virgil Green down at the 3 yard line. After C.J. Anderson fails to convert from the 1, Brock hits Gerell Robinson for the score. Zac Dysert comes in and dumps the ball off to Lance Ball for 5 yards. Zac has to throw his next attempt away. HORN.
Another water break is followed by a 10 minute segment of Kickoff coverage versus the “Red Hats.” HORN.
11 on 11 situational drills will fill the last segment. 1:40 left in the game, down by 4 points, with 2 Timeouts and the ball on the far 40 yard line. Peyton Manning’s first attempt for Demaryius Thomas sees a Pass Interference call on Chris Harris. Peyton then passes incomplete for Julius Thomas. The next throw hits Demaryius in the helmet and is broken up by Omar Bolden. Julius Thomas makes a nice one-handed tip to himself and catch on a crossing route that he turns upfield. Peyton passes to Ronnie Hillman on a flare for 5 yards and then hits Bubba Caldwell at the sideline for the catch and then steps out of bounds. Ronnie Hillman carries the ball 4 yards and then Peyton runs a Quarterback sneak for the 1st down that has everyone laughing. (The Defense isn’t really allowed to Tackle the QB, much less the $20 Million man, thus the chuckle). On the next play, Wesley Woodyard tags Peyton Manning, but Peyton throws it complete to Demaryius Thomas anyway for the score.
They re-spot the ball back at the 40 and the second unit steps up. Osweiler’s first pass goes to Lamaar Thomas for 10 yards. Then, Sylvester Williams Sacks Brock for a loss. This causes the Offense to use a Timeout with 1:14 left on the clock. Osweiler passes complete to Gerell Robinson for 7 yards and then takes the next one 5 yards himself for a 1st down. Brock spikes the ball with 40 seconds left. The next play is a completion to Virgil Green for 19 yards. Osweiler passes incomplete for Lamaar Thomas. 18.9 seconds remain with the ball on the 22 yard line. Brock lobs one up in the corner of the End Zone for Gerell Robinson and Mario Butler is called for Interference. Jacob Hester finishes the drive off with a 1 yard rumble for the Touchdown.
New drill: 18 seconds left, down by 1 point. The ball is 45 yards away from the End Zone. It’s 3rd and 10 with 1 Timeout.Manning hits Demaryius Thomas for 5 yards and DT steps out of bounds. The objective is completed because the ball is in Prater’s Field Goal range. Re-spot the ball for the second stringers. Brock passes incomplete.
New drill: 7 seconds remain. No Timeouts, down by one. Ball at the 40 yard line. Peyton Manning throws incomplete for Eric Decker. Reset. Then Brock Osweiler hits Tavarres King at the sidelines and he steps out of bounds. The HORN signals the end of practice.
Today’s practice session went better than yesterday’s chaotic mishmash. I didn’t notice anyone getting nicked up and this practice was crisper. The new adjustment to the Offensive Line seemed to work all right, as I didn’t see too many imaginary Sacks.
The next practice is on Saturday morning from 8:50-11:30 am and our boys take the field for their first preseason game on Thursday against the NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s stadium at 7:00 pm MT.
– Kaptain Kirk