I feels like it will be a hot day in Dove Valley at today’s Denver Broncos Training Camp practice. It ends up being a pleasant day however. Plus, I picked out a spot in the shade. I decide to sit at the near 46 yard line to specifically keep an eye on the running game. I’ve seen enough Wide Receiver/Cornerback matchups to know that the talent level is very good.
Ross Rasner just edges Tavarres King as the first player out on the field this morning, completely demolishing King’s record. Players trickle out by two’s and three’s as the JUG’s machine is set up on the 30 yard line to my right and begins to launch kickoffs to the End Zone. The Jug’s operator adjusts the air pressure to get the desired depth. I can see Ryan Clady still in sweats. He will work during the Walk-throughs and the stretches and then give way to Chris Clark. HORN.
The Special Teams Kick Return Unit takes reps in the first segment. They work on directional returns with lead blocking. The JUG’s machine launches kicks to Trindon Holliday, Omar Bolden, Quincy McDuffie, who muffs his attempt and takes a Mulligan (Do-over). Jeremiah Johnson, Kemonte’ Bateman and Mike Adams also take kick return reps and I notice Knowshon Moreno take a turn as one of the lead blockers. In 2012, we saw Lance Ball primarily in this role during the season. After 3 or 4 reps through, I see a lineup to receive kicks. Andre Caldwell, Lamaar Thomas, Lance Ball, Kemonte’ Bateman, Ronnie Hillman, Mike Adams, Knowshon Moreno and C.J. Thomas take 2 reps each. The lineup looks like a lay-up drill in basketball. HORN.
As the Defense moves over to the other field, the Offense sets up to do some “Hurry Up” reps, but at Walk-Through speed. The first team makes their way downfield and then the second unit follows suit. The second unit Offensive Line has, from left to right, Paul Cornick, Quinton Saulsberry, C.J. Davis, Philip Blake and Vinston Painter. I notice Jacob Tamme is in sweats and not practicing. The 3rd string Offensive Line has Manase Foketi, Justin Boren, Steve Vallos, Ben Garland and Vinston Painter. The “one’s” work against other players on Offense with the Linebackers and Safeties wearing blue or red shirts over their jerseys. This way, Peyton Manning can call the line blocking by identifying the “MIKE” Linebacker. HORN.
Time now for the Stretch interval and the fans all stand and stretch along with the team, carrying on a recently adopted tradition. It’s been reported that the team really likes this, so I for one, will urge the crowd to join in whenever I am there. I notice Sylvester Williams is stretching and falsely report that he is in full pads. I am forced to tweet a retraction with the excuse that the big guy was hidden behind some other big guys after the segment is over and I see that he is in shorts. My bad people. HORN.
After the stretch, the players move on to their position drills. The Quarterbacks ar during footwork and drop back drills, the Running backs are hitting the sled and the Receivers are during a “Bump and Run‘ drill with coach Tolbert applying the bump. After this, they move to a quick-step ladder drill as the coach throws passes to them. Moving along when that is complete, the Wideouts do cone work.
About 10 minutes into this segment the Quarterbacks join with the Running Backs in passing drills, followed by the Tight End group and then the Wide Receivers. These drills occur with two QB’s throwing in tandem so that the reps increase. HORN.
The Wide Receiver/Cornerback one-on-one competition begins over to my right and the pass block drill is set up in front of my spot. To elaborate on this, there are two tackling dummies posing as Offensive Linemen and one as the Quarterback. On the far side, a Defensive End is pitted against a Tight End at the line. Alternating over on the left side of the line is a Safety going up against a Running Back, with the Safety required to make his way through the dummy linemen before the Running Back can engage. I will tell you right now, the Defense won this battle decidedly. To the disdain of RB’s coach Eric Studesville, the “D” looked hungrier. Most likely because they have to go easy on the Offense sometimes so the “O” can get their work in. In any case the Defense was pumped up. Jeremiah Johnson alone stood out for the Offense in this drill.
When this was finished, the same two position groups went against each other in passing drills. Julius Thomas did well against David Bruton, Ronnie Hillman got the best of Mike Adams on a wheel route, running right by the Safety to make the catch and score. I see Stewart Bradley with good coverage on the next play and after that, Steven Johnson stones Montee Ball. HORN.
7 on 7’s start up. I see Duke Ihenacho paired with Rahim Moore at Safety at first. Peyton Manning’s first attempt goes for Eric Decker, but Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie breaks up the play. Manning then throws two completions to Wes Welker, who is guarded by Tony Carter. A third time is tipped by DR-C and Rahim Moore Intercepts it.
Brock Osweiler steps in and doesn’t see a wide open Greg Orton and throws the ball away. Osweiler then completes a comeback to Bubba Caldwell, throws to Virgil Green but is broken up by Quentin Jammer. Brock’s next attempt is picked off by Omar Bolden. He throws the next one behind Lamaar Thomas incomplete. Zac Dysert hits Gerell Robinson twice in between a catch by Quincy McDuffie. Dysert is throwing a lot better today and is more in sync with his receivers. after throwing complete to Kemonte’ Bateman the HORN sounds.
7 on 9 running drills begin to my left, while another round of Wide Receiver/Cornerback ono-on-one’s start to my right. I stay focused with the group on the left. Ronnie Hillman takes off for 10+ yards around the right side and then Montee Ball gets maybe a yard. They give the rookie the ball once again and he gains 4 yards running behind the lead block of Jacob Hester. Then Hillman gets stuffed behind the line. Ronnie’s next run goes for 7 yards over the left side. Knowshon Moreno gets one yard and Jeremiah Johnson goes 7-8 yards on the right side. C.J. Anderson gets a pair of carries, going for 3 and 5 yards respectively. Jeremiah Johnson gains 4 yards behind Hester’s blocking and then Lance Ball runs for 3 yards to the left. At this point I notice Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is limping and sits down on the ground. Play continues and about 5 minutes later, he is carted off the field. I’m told later that it is a high ankle sprain and he will be out 2-3 weeks. HORN.
Time for 11 on 11’s. Manning throws a nice pass complete to Julius Thomas down the seam against Tony Carter. Ronnie Hillman takes a handoff and goes nowhere. Chris Harris break up a pass intended for Wes Welker. Eric Decker gets a catch and then Jeremiah Johnson has a nice run after contact. Osweiler to Gerell Robinson and then a pass intended for Lamaar Thomas is thrown out of bounds because of pressure by Nate Irving and Shaun Phillips. Dysert comes in and handsoff to Lance Ball for no gain. John Youboty and Jeremy Beal get a Sack on Zac the next play. On the last rep, Kayvon Webster is in Dysert’s face and the young QB throws incomplete. HORN.
Kick Return drills resume, the same as before. Trindon Holliday, Omar Bolden, Quincy McDuffie, Kemonte’ Bateman, Andre Caldwell, Mike Adams, Lamaar Thomas, Jeremiah Johnson and Montee Ball all take reps fielding kickoffs. HORN.
11 on 11’s again. Manning to Demaryius Thomas and then Montee Ball makes a nice cutback to get 6 or 7 yards, easily his best run to date. Manning goes back to Demaryius but it’s a bad throw and falls short and incomplete. Hillman carries the ball for 5 yards. Peyton under pressure throws behind Welker deep against Tony Carter.
The “2’s” are up and Jeremiah Johnson rips off another 7 yards to the right side. Brock passes to Bubba Caldwell, who is working against Kayvon Webster and turns it upfield. Robert Ayers gets pressure on Osweiler, forcing him to pass early for Caldwell and it’s broken up by Kayvon Webster. Knowshon Moreno runs for 5 yards. Then Mitch Unrein force Osweiler from the pocket. Brock rolls right, sends a pass towards Jacob Hester, but the Fullback drops it.
The third unit is up. Zac Dysert does a reverse rollout to the left and hits Julius Thomas (nice). After a completion to Quincy McDuffie, C.J. Anderson runs around the left side for about 20 yards. A last pass lobbed toward Jeremiah drops because the Running Back hadn’t turned his head around yet and didn’t see the pass coming. HORN.
Situational drill time. But first, I want to inform you that Steven Johnson, Malik Jackson, and Shaun Phillips are working with the 1st team Defense during this drill. The situation is: 1:10 on the clock. 4th Quarter, down by 6 and the ball is at the 40 (60 yards to go) with 1 timeout. Manning hits Eric Decker with the same play twice at the sideline to move the chains down the field. On the next play Peyton hits Demaryius Thomas for a Touchdown.
The second unit starts the same drill back at the 40. Kevin Vickerson bats down the first pass attempt by Osweiler. I see Peyton Manning share some Gatorade with a couple of fans directly in front of my vantage point and as he turns his back I eagerly await the prank he pulled last year, but he doesn’t loosen the top of the Gatorade bottle and everything is cool.
After a one-handed drop by Gerell Robinson, the pocket collapses on the following play and Osweiler takes off for 15 yards down the sideline and steps out of bounds with 17.2 seconds on the clock at the 27 yard line. After an incomplete pass to Greg Orton Brock hits Lamaar Thomas at the sideline with 6 seconds to go. After a jump ball attempt in the End Zone for Julius Thomas is overthrown there is 1 second remaining. Brock throws into double coverage intended for Greg Orton, but David Bruton and Ross Rasner break up the play.
The “3’s” get their chance. Zac Dysert throws a quick side pass to Kemonte’ Bateman that Omar Bolden gets a hand on. The ball is caught, but the receiver goes nowhere. On the next drop back, John Youboty slaps the ball out of Dysert’s hand. 3rd and 15. After a complete to Virgil Green it’s 4th and 11. Chris Harris Intercepts Dysert and the HORN blows.
After a short water break, the Special Teams Kick Return Unit goes to work against the “Red Hats.” Omar Bolden and Jeremiah Johnson field kicks offered up by the JUG’s machine. Then Ryan Doerr, acting as the kicker, tries to surprise them with an Onside Kick Attempt, but the up men are alert and cover it up. After that, Trindon Holliday has a live return against the “Red Hat”coverage guys. HORN.
11 on 11 Red Zone drills. Peyton Manning passes for Joel Dreessen in the End Zone, but it’s broken up by Duke Ihenacho. The next play is a brilliant timing play by Manning and Demaryius Thomas on a quick slant. I saw Peyton throw the ball at a space and Demaryius just showed up in that spot for the catch. From the 5 yard line, Tony Carter is covering Demaryius in the End Zone and Thomas makes the catch, but Duke Ihenacho strips the ball before Demaryius can come down with it. Montee Ball runs it in from 3 yards out in a Goal Line drill and then Osweiler’s unit gets a shot. A completion to Bubba Caldwell and then Ross Rasner is flagged for interference on a pass intended for Greg Orton. From the 5 yard line, Osweiler hits Montee Ball for a score. The Line of Scrimmage is moved out to the 15. C.J. Anderson takes a handoff and gets down close to the Goal Line. They run the same ply over again and C.J. gets to the 1 yard line out of bounds. Zac Dysert comes in and hits Trindon Holliday for a Touchdown. On the ensuing play, John Youboty Sacks the Quarterback. A 2-point conversion attempt is converted by Jeremiah Johnson. HORN.
The ball is placed on the 27 yard line. The Offense is down by 1 with 30 seconds left. The goal is to run time off the clock and call a timeout for a Field Goal Attempt. Ronnie Hillman gets 2 yards and Manning lets the clock wind down to 2 seconds and calls a timeout. Osweiler hands off to Montee Ball, who gets back to the Line of Scrimmage. The clock winds down and Brock lines up the Offense and spikes the ball with 6 seconds left. Zac Dysert hands off to C.J. Anderson for a yard and the HORN blows twice, signaling the end of practice.
It was a good practice other than the injury to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but at least he will only be out for a short time.
Red! Alcatraz! Check! Louisiana! Elephant Six! Right! Dark! Scarecrow! Omaha! Check! Rhode Island!, are some of the cadences Manning used today. I won’t reveal where and when, but it always strikes me as humorous when he uses those phrases. “Louisiana Stairwell” was the one I liked from last year.
That’s it for today.
– Kaptain Kirk