The second day of the Denver Broncos 2013 Training Camp started out much like the first. However, after an initially slow beginning, the tempo on both sides of the ball went up a couple of notches. The passing was better as well as the pass routes and the running game was featured a bit more. The crowd was larger and I expect tomorrow’s practice, the first in full pads, will most likely fill the complex to it’s capacity.
Today’s practice starting time was 10:25. I took my position at the 47 yard line and settled in. The JUGs machine is sitting at the 30 yard line over to my right and is set up for Kickoff simulation. Wide Receiver Tavarres King is the first man to emerge from the locker room (around 10:07). Gerell Robinson follows Tavarres and they begin to warm up playing catch. The “Eye in the sky” lifts off and ascends to it’s viewing altitude. Cheers abound from the spectators as Louis Vasquez and Peyton Manning come out onto the field. 10 minutes later, the first HORN echoes across the complex, signaling the start of Friday’s practice session.
Kickoff return is the first drill of the day. Trindon Holliday muffs the very first offering from the JUGs machine and the audience groans. As in every other Broncos practice, that’s a “Mulligan” and requires a “Do Over.” The second time’s the charm and practice continues. Omar Bolden, Andre Caldwell, Quincy McDuffie, Kemonte’ Bateman and Mike Adams all field Kickoffs. HORN.
11 on 11’s start the next segment. The first unit Offensive Line has Justin Boren temporarily at Left Tackle (he is replaced shortly by Chris Clark), Zane Beadles, Manny Ramirez at Center, Louis Vasquez and Orlando Franklin on the right side. Ronnie Hillman is the Running Back and when they go to a 2 back set, Jacob Hester is in.
The Offense goes with a 3-1-1 set (3 WR’s) and the Defense is in the Nickel package. Von Miller, Derek Wolfe, Kevin Vickerson and Robert Ayers are on the line. Wesley Woodyard and Danny Trevathan are the Linebackers. Champ Bailey, Chris Harris, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are the Corners and David Bruton is playing Safety along side Mike Adams. After a few plays, Sylvester Williams and Terrance Knighton rotate in at Defensive Tackle.
Peyton Manning completes three passes in a row, to Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker. I concentrate on Sylvester Williams for a few plays and see that he has some quick hands and considering he is known for his quick first step, hand technique is an asset. Manning throws another completion to Decker and if you were watching, you’d see that Champ let him catch it. Since they are working at half speed and the Defense is ahead of the Offense, it was probably done by design so the Offense could try to get a rhythm going. Peyton’s next pass is caught by Welker. After that, Fullback Jacob Hester is split out wide and draws Champ Bailey as his defender. Champ crowds him at the line in an obvious attempt to rattle the young Fullback. The ploy appears to work, as Manning’s pass is dropped by Hester. Montee (I’m told it is pronounced MON-TAY), catches a pass underneath the coverage. I notice Rahim Moore is playing next to Mike Adams now at Safety. Montee gets another pass thrown his way as a gentle breeze passes by and cools us off. The weather is quite a bit warmer than the overcast cloud cover we had yesterday. Not unbearably hot, but the breeze is welcome anyway. A sideline completion to Decker and a swing pass to Montee Ball make up the next two plays and after a grab by Welker, the Offense stalls. I am unable to determine what’s happening at first. the ran a play and then in the middle of it, Manning stops everything. I discover what is wrong after it occurs once more. Montee Ball is out of position in where he lines up pre-snap. At least in this instance. Peyton takes a minute to instruct the rookie and then they resume. Demaryius Thomas and then Julius Thomas get catches on the next two plays before the HORN goes off.
A quick water break and then another HORN signal the beginning of the stretch interval.
11 on 11’s start the next sequence, and unlike the previous day, this one goes uptempo. Adam Gase wasn’t kidding when he said that they were going to practice faster. The Hurry Up, No Huddle Offense was the theme for today. The Chains are out, the 40 second clock is in use and the Line of Scrimmage is moving down the field. Manning’s first pass is thrown away. The second is a swing pass to Ronnie Hillman who is stopped cold by Chris Harris. Peyton hits Demaryius who is guarded closely by Tony Carter. Hillman runs over the Right Tackle for a few yards and then Decker makes a nice catch on a comeback route going against Tony Carter. The Offense runs plays from their own 30 to the far 30 yard line and then the second unit gets a turn.
Reversing direction, Brock Osweiler takes off running on the first play because Mitch Unrein and Malik Jackson have applied enough pressure to force the young Quarterback from the pocket. The next pass goes incomplete. It was intended for Bubba Caldwell, but Mario Butler does a good job breaking up the play. Jeremiah Johnson does an excellent job weaving through defenders in a run up the middle for a good 6 yards. Brock passes for Caldwell and Quentin Jammer is there to break it up. Jeremiah Johnson gets another carry and Osweiler hits Caldwell on a crossing route for a good gain. HORN.
Time now for individual position drills. As they did yesterday, the Quarterbacks start working on their Dropbacks, the Wide Receivers pass routes and the Defense works out over on the far field. The Receivers changeup and coach Tyke Tolbert has them run crossing routes right behind him as he waves his arms to create a distraction. As they all seem to handle this without any difficulty, he begins to tip the balls before they get there. Kemonte’ Bateman is forced to redo the drill a few times. Coach one hands the next pass, intended for Wes Welker and tosses it up so Wes can finish his rep. Well, Welker decides to nonchalantly catch the ball and fails. Then Tolbert tells him to “Go back” and do it again. Apparently there is no slacking allowed here. The spectators eat that up. Quincy McDuffie muffs one and is successful on his next try. After that, they move on to a short quick comeback drill using the “speed bump cones” as slalom poles. The receiver runs out to the first cone, turns and comes back as the coach passes to him. He then tosses the ball back to the coach and runs through a second set of cones. Two routes, two catches each. Meanwhile, the Quarterbacks run handoff drills with the Running Backs with the “Running Lane Mats.” This turns into a tandem passing drill. Two Quarterbacks side by side, simultaneously passing to two different Running Backs.
At the 10 minute mark of this 25 minute segment, the QB’s and Receivers go through some passing drills. Wide Receivers on the left side and Running Backs on the right. The Tight Ends join in in the drill as well. Everyone does well except Ryan Katz, who throws one behind his intended receiver. To this point, Ryan has been mainly a Camp arm. He’s only had about a half dozen reps total in the two practices open to the public. I’m sure this will undoubtedly be a learning experience, being around Peyton Manning, but don’t put any expectations here. HORN.
7 on 7’s start this segment. The 40-second Play clock and the Chain Gang are in use and the Offense is moving down the field again, between the 30’s. Peyton’s first pass goes to Joel Dreessen and the next is intended for Ronnie Hillman, but id broken up by Rahim Moore. Julius Thomas makes a catch as David Bruton tries hard to strip the ball to no avail. The next play is a deep ball thrown to Demaryius Thomas, who can’t pull it in after the ball hits his hands and bounces off his face mask. Eric Decker catches a Manning pass over the middle on a crossing pattern and then Brock Osweiler gets a chance to run with the second unit.
Osweiler connects with Greg Orton over the middle, then Bubba Caldwell on a quick slant. Brock has to throw the ball away and then hits Lamaar Thomas on a quick slant that Lamaar turns upfield with a nice move. Zac Dysert comes in and throws a deep ball for Trindon Holliday, but it is overthrown. Zac then connects with Quincy McDuffie ion a quick slant and Kemonte’ Bateman on a sideline out. On the last rep, Dysert checks down to C.J. Anderson before the HORN blows.
11 on 11’s start up again with a handoff to Ronnie Hillman. Manning barks out a hard count and Right Guard Louis Vasquez moves. They back it up five yards and start again. This time , Sylvester Williams falls victim to Manning’s hard count, so Manny Ramirez picks up the ball and marches forward five yards and they reset for another play. Hillman gets one carry and Montee Ball gets two, the second one is stuffed by the Defensive Line. The second unit steps up and Osweiler hands off to a rotation of Knowshon Moreno and Jeremiah Johnson. Then it’s the third unit’s turn and Dysert hands off to C.J. Anderson out of a 2 back set. As an aside, Kemonte’ Bateman and Quincy McDuffie are working with the 3rd unit. HORN.
The Offense and Defense switch sides and direction as the “Ones” come back out and they continue 11 on 11’s. In another up tempo “No Huddle” set. Peyton Manning completes a pass to Demaryius Thomas. Next is a handoff to Montee Ball. Two more receptions follow with one each to Demaryius and Eric Decker. Mike Adams breaks up a pass down the seam intended for Jacob Tamme. Brock Osweiler completes a pass to Greg Orton, who is having a very good practice. Another Moreno carry and then Brock is forced to throw away the ball because Stewart Bradley is all up in his business. One last completion to Gerell Robinson and the HORN sounds for a water break.
Another short segment ensues with the JUGs machine back at the 30 yard line and the Kickoff return unit has another go at it. Trindon Holliday, Omar Bolden, Bubba Caldwell, Quincy McDuffie and Kemonte’ Bateman all take reps as the return man. Bateman muffs a try and gets another do-over. HORN.
7 on 7’s are next on the agenda. more at the same upbeat pace. Manning connects with Ronnie Hillman on a deep pass and then hits Joel Dreessen. The next pass is intended for Montee Ball, but David Bruton tips it and Wesley Woodyard alertly picks it off. Peyton runs over to Wes and grabs him like he’s going to make the Tackle. I think everyone got a kick out of that. On the ensuing play Manning threads the needle on a nice pass to Julius Thomas on a sideline out as he was double covered by Bruton and Danny Trevathan. The two defenders get tangled up and Trevathan comes up limping. The next pass attempt is intended for Demaryius Thomas, but Wesley Woodyard denies it.
Osweiler steps up and tries to hit Jacob Tamme on a deep ball, but Tony Carter breaks it up when Tamme bobbles the ball. Brock completes a pass to Joel Dreessen and then connects once more with Greg Orton over the middle. Lance Ball makes a catch on a wheel route and then Duke Ihenacho picks off Osweiler. Dysert comes in and misses Trindon Holliday with a high pass that goes off Holliday’s hands. Another attempt with Holliday on a middle crossing pattern is dropped. The next three passes are completed to Greg Orton. HORN.
11 on 11’s begin again. Peyton Manning’s first pass for Decker is broken up by Tony Carter. The next, intended for Wes Welker, is denied by Nate Irving. Welker catches the next two pass attempts and then the “Twos” rotate in. Osweiler hits Moreno, who makes a nice grab in front of Trevathan and then Gerell Robinson catches a quick slant. The next play is the highlight of the day; Brock connects with Greg Orton, who makes a leaping catch over the middle. Osweiler tries to hit Robinson once more, but Shaun Phillips is there for the imaginary Sack (The QB’s are untouchables during practice). Zac Dysert completes a pass to Lamaar Thomas on a nice play, but can’t seem to connect with Trindon Holliday as the ball hits the ground. Kemonte’ Bateman drops Zac’s next pass and then Lance Ball catches a dump off pass. HORN.
Another water break and the Kick Return teams get in some more work against the “Red Hats.” In case you aren’t familiar with this; the Red Hats are fill in players that another unit is practicing against. In this instance, the kick coverage team is wearing a Red sock over their helmets. This is so the coaches can differentiate who is and isn’t where they are supposed to be on the video tape. The Red Hats are made up from Offensive and Defensive players and the “Red Hat” takes the guessing away because the Offense is wearing White jerseys and the Defense is in Orange. (I hope that explains it). During this segment, Trindon Holliday and Quincy McDuffie show good bursts of speed. Andre Caldwell, Omar Bolden and Mike Adams each get a rep as Return men. HORN.
The last segment is another 11 on 11 match up. Manning hits Demaryius Thomas on a shallow cross and then a sideline out. Wes Welker is the recipient of Peyton’s next offering and then Decker gets a reception. The second unit enters and Brock Osweiler connects with Bubba Caldwell on a quick slant and then again on a deep pass. Brock has to throw the ball away because no one is open. Then he throws up a wobbly duck deep intended for Greg Orton, who makes the catch and has Tony Carter all over him trying to actively strip the ball to the point of over-acting. Orton doesn’t release the ball. Zac Dysert comes in and dumps the ball off to C.J. Anderson and then hits Trindon Holliday on a quick wide Receiver screen, Holliday jukes his man and tears off down the sideline. Then, after a swing pass to Lance Ball, the Double HORN signals the end of practice.
Among the signees today were Eric Decker, Lance Ball and Peyton Manning. It was just short of a free-for-all around Peyton and I have given up trying to get his signature. The mob is getting so bad that all it’s going to take is one kid getting trampled and the players will stop being available for autographs. I did come out of the melee with a Decker signature on a hat already signed by Demaryius Thomas. Maybe I can get Welker to make it a trifecta.
If you are going to Dove Valley in the morning, I recommend getting there very early. The weekend crowds are immense and parking may not be available when you arrive. Auxiliary parking is a good distance away. However, if you must make the walk it will be worth it, as the players will be in full pads tomorrow.
– Kaptain Kirk