After driving through fog, rain and a steady drizzle this morning, I end up arriving at Dove Valley 2 hours before the Broncos Training Camp practice is scheduled to begin. It is still sprinkling, but they are letting cars into the parking lot, so my fingers are crossed that practice will remain outside. I’m sitting at the 48 yard line this morning and about 10 minutes later, the rain stops and it begins to warm up.
The referees are here again and I see that Tavarres King is the first player out of the locker room. The JUG’s machine is nowhere to be seen, instead, mini cones, blocking pads and trash barrels are laid out in strategic positions throughout the field. This is another full pad practice. I see Damien Holmes and Sylvester Williams are out now and then the crowd cheers as Peyton Manning shows up. Most of the team is warming up over at the far field as two separate Special Teams groups gather around the mini cones to await their directions for this drill. HORN.
The group to my right is during technique work on busting a 3 man wedge, with the trash barrels being implemented as wedge men. To the left, coverage players work on getting around the lead blocker for the return man. Kickers Matt Prater and Britton Colquitt act as faux return men for the drills. HORN.
Time for 11 on 11’s in the Red Zone. These drills start at the 2o yard line and other plays end up starting anywhere inside that. David Bruton blitzes on the first play for an imaginary Sack on Manning. Then, Peyton hits Demaryius Thomas. To clarify, this is at walk-through speed. I see Chris Kuper in shorts watching behind the play with the rest of the players. Manning hits Ronnie Hillman and then Demaryius nonchalantly drops a pass in the end zone. Jacob Tamme catches a pass on a crossing route, then Julius Thomas, Eric Decker make catches.From the 5 yard line, Manning tosses a high pass that Demaryius Thomas grabs on the back line of the End Zone.
They turn around and work going out of the Red Zone as Manning and Joel Dreessen connect. I notice Ryan Clady getting increased reps at his normal position. Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker are the recipients of the next two throws from Peyton. #33, who I think is Quentin Jammer, not Duke Ihenacho, is getting work with the first unit at Safety alongside David Bruton. #23, who I have been told, is Jammer’s new number, works with the second and third units throughout the day. At this point, I see Manning jawing at Decker after a play. Whatever was said seemed to fix the problem, as they end up on the same page and getting it right the second time. HORN.
Time for everyone to stretch. When I say everyone, I mean the entire crowd gets up and stretches along with the team. I guess that is what you call “fan building” instead of team building.
When the players finish, some begin position drills, but there is a small group in front of my vantage point that is during an Anti-Fumble drill. A leash is attached to a football. One player holds the ball like he is a ball carrier while the other tries to jerk the ball out. As one may expect, a few Running Backs are among those during this drill. However, I do see a couple of Tight Ends, Trindon Holliday and even Peyton Manning go through this drill. 5 minutes elapse and then the actual individual position drills really start.
The Wide Receivers run “quick-step” ladder drills, the Quarterbacks are during play-action dropbacks with a short pass and I notice that Andre Caldwell is missing in action. He later reappears sans pads. New acquisition Tight End Jake O’Connell has taken the number 82 that Lucas Reed wore before he was released yesterday. The Running Backs join the Quarterbacks and run play-action passes using the running lane mats. The Wide Receivers switch to a drill where they must “high point” catch the ball over another player.
After a bit, the Receivers join the Quarterbacks at the 5 yard line and run fade routes in the end zone. The Running Backs hit the individual blocking sled. My attention is drawn away from the end zone as I see the blocking sled get completely turned over, end-for-end. It turns out to be Jeremiah Johnson who accomplished this feat to the delight of the fans. Lance Ball almost follows suit and coach Studesville keeps instructing on the technique he wants to see from his position group. They travel 40 yards down the sideline, turn the sled around, and work their way back. This time, they are carrying a ball and running into the sled as if to bounce off a would-be tackler. HORN.
7 on 7’s begin over to my right, while 3 on 2’s (3 O-Linemen vs. 2 D-Linemen) workout on my left. Manning completes a pass to Decker and I notice Quinton Carter and Mike Adams at the Safety spots. Peyton throws a pass to Knowshon Moreno and the ball ends up in Jammer’s
(#33) hands for a “Pick Six.” Osweiler connects with Quincy McDuffie and Greg Orton on consecutive plays and then Chris Harris gets the best of Wes Welker, breaking up a pass. Brock completes passes to Julius Thomas and Jacob Tamme and then Rahim Moore breaks up the next attempt. Joel Dreessen makes a catch and then it’s time for the “3’s.” Zac Dysert completes a crisp pass to Kemonte’ Bateman and then throws behind his receiver on the next play. His next pass attempt is a double clutch late throw that hits the ground short of the mark. Brock returns and tries to hit Tamme, who drops the ball. Osweiler is then able to hit Greg Orton and Virgil Green on consecutive plays. Quinton Carter breaks up a pass and then Kayvon Webster gets a break up. Dysert in and can’t connect with Jake O’Connell. Then holds the ball on the following snap because there is good coverage. HORN.
7 on 7’s start the next segment, with the ball marked at the 45 yard line. The referees, play clock and chains are now in effect. Manning hits Joel Dreessen on the first play. The next play is a breaks down. Peyton redirects his Receivers and hits Julius Thomas, who makes a nice diving sideline catch. Chris Harris once again gets the better of Welker, breaking up another pass. After that, Harris disrupts Demaryius Thomas’ attempt to catch a Manning pass.
Osweiler throws for Gerell Robinson and Tony Carter drops the sure Interception. After Brock throws away the next ball, he hits Tavarres King. He threads the needle and completes a nice pass to Knowshon Moreno despite terrific coverage by Danny Trevathan. Zac Dysert completes a good pass to Lamaar Thomas and then overthrows Trindon Holliday on a deep attempt. After a completion to Quincy McDuffie, Dysert leads Kemonte’ Bateman into a sandwich collision with Duke Ihenacho and Quentin Jammer (ouch). That was a “Welcome to the NFL, rookie” moment, but Bateman gets back up none the worse for wear. HORN.
First team 11 on 11’s start again and Dysert throws End Zone “fades” to the other Receivers behind the main action. Ronnie Hillman runs for 5 yards off the left side and then is stuffed at the line when he tries up the middle. Another attempt to the right goes for 3-4 yards and an Offensive Lineman goes down. My field of vision is blocked and I over hear that it is Ben Garland. However, it turns out to be Dan Koppen and he gets carted off the field.
Meanwhile, Brock takes the reins and hands off to Montee Ball, who gets 5-6 yards, his best carry so far in Camp. Ball’s next carry gets stuffed after a yard. Knowshon Moreno gets some tough yards by sticking his head down and grinding. This ends up starting a scrum between the linemen, something that often occurs when the Running game is getting reps.
Jacob Hester gains a few yards up the middle and then Montee Ball runs for 3 yards, gets hit and bounces for 2 more yards. Jeremiah Johnson gets the next carry, good for 15+ yards and then backs that up with another 6 yard run. Lance Ball gets stuffed at the line and then breaks through the right side for 5 yards on his next rushing attempt. Jeremiah Johnson runs off the right side, stops and just when you think he is done, changes direction and rips off 6 yards. C.J. Anderson gains 4 yards and there’s the HORN.
7 on 7 Red Zone drills at the 10 yard line are up next. Manning completes passes to Eric Decker and Wes Welker.Then Brock Osweiler hits Jacob Tamme on a side out.Sylvester Williams and Mitch Unrein drive Brock from the pocket on the next play and the Quarterback is forced to throw it away. After two busted plays that force Brock to roll out (they may have been by design, my view was partially blocked), Dysert comes in and throws complete to Quincy McDuffie. John Youboty goes up high to bat down the next pass and then it’s time for a water break. HORN.
Another Special Teams segment begins with one-on-ones cover man picking up the returner. There are two different groups during this drill on opposite sides of the field. 7 minutes later, they do full coverage kickoffs against no one and the JUG’s launching kickoffs before the HORN blows.
7 on 7 Red Zone drills again. Peyton’s first attempt, intended for Eric Decker, is broken up by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Manning goes to Decker again and it’s good for an imaginary six points. Wes Welker catches the next two passes and then Osweiler hits Virgil Green and Jacob Tamme on his first two throws. A third, intended for Gerell Robinson, falls incomplete.
Away from the Red Zone action is another round of 3 on 2’s between the Linemen. Pads are clashing pretty good, but my attention returns to the Red Zone as Zac Dysert completes two passes to Lamaar Thomas and one to Trindon Holliday. The last play breaks down and Zac ends up throwing an incompletion after sprinting to the right and trying to extend the play, as directed by the coaches. HORN.
11 on 11 ‘s in the Red Zone are up next. Manning connects with Demaryius Thomas and then must throw away the next one. Jacob Hester rumbles for 5 yards and it’s Osweiler’s turn. Danny Trevathan skies to pick off Brock’s next pass. Montee Ball rushes for 5 yards and then Jeremiah Johnson gets stuffed at the line. With Dysert in, Jeremiah Johnson runs for 5 yards. Zac has his next pass, meant for Julius Thomas, broken up by Duke Ihenacho. Steven Johnson and Jacob Tamme get their feet tangled and Dysert’s pass falls incomplete. Dysert leads Quincy McDuffie too much and there’s the HORN.
Special Teams kick coverage against the “Red Hats” is next and Matt Prater boots two through the End Zone and into the crowd. The JUG’s machine launches the next two, Prater dings one off the right upright and Quincy McDuffie has a nice return, getting through the coverage line with a few slippery moves. HORN.
Time for one last 11 on 11 session. Manning hits Demaryius Thomas, who is being covered by Chris Harris, because Champ Bailey is getting a veteran’s day off. Following a bad snap (no play) by Manny Ramirez, the Defense gets a coverage Sack. Manning dumps off to Knowshon Moreno. Julius Thomas moves on a hard count by Manning (False Start). Then Peyton connects with Demaryius Thomas on a deep pass play.
Osweiler throws behind Gerell Robinson. Shaun Phillips and Danny Trevathan are there for the Sack on the next play. Then Sylvester Williams forces Brock to throw the ball away. Osweiler hits Julius Thomas, who forces Aaron Hester to miss the tackle and turns it upfield. Dysert is up and Romney Fuga and Steven Johnson are there for the Sack. Sealver Siliga and Lanston Tanyi are there for the Sack on the following play. After missing Quincy McDuffie low and away, Zac manages to get the ball to Julius Thomas while barraged by a full on blitz (great awareness). HORN.
The Linebackers are signing today, along with Manning and Demaryius Thomas. I manage to get a Nate Irving autograph while exercising patience, but I miss out on Von Miller because of the selfishness of others. Oh well, tomorrow’s another day and the opportunities should increase.
– Kaptain Kirk