The bad news Saturday morning? Head Athletic Trainer Steve Antonopulos and training lieutenants Corey Oshikoya and Trae Tashiro were busy once again, attending to three players who incurred injuries during the full-pads practice.
The good news? The injuries to running back Travis Henry, defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban and weakside linebacker Louis Green were not serious, and Green managed to return to practice a half-hour after he fell to the grass on the final play of the goal-line period of practice.
“We lost a few guys the last few years to injuries in our goal-line period, and I thought we’d snuck away without an injury, but Lou Green stayed on the ground,” Head Coach Mike Shanahan said. “I thought the worst at first, but it looks like he’s all right. He got back to practice. He got a little bruise on his knee, so hopefully there’s no setback but for a guy to come back like he did, that’s a good sign.”
Henry, meanwhile, was bothered by a hip pointer that he initially incurred Friday. He made it through the first few periods, but then received treatment after it flared up.
“It just didn’t feel right,” he said.
He briefly returned for another play in nine-on-seven before heading to the sidelines for good.
“I probably could have finished if it was a game, but I want to be healthy when this thing starts, so they decided to pull me.”
“It’s normal — especially at the running back position. Any play, you can get nicked up, and unfortunately I got nicked up. I sucked it up and finished yesterday, and today did it again, and unfortunately I couldn’t go like I wanted to, so I just sat out.
Missing a few periods of practice usually isn’t a big deal to a player who is the clear starter at his position, but for Henry, this practice was going to be his opportunity to show why the Broncos invested in him, since it was heavily tilted towards goal-line plays — a point of emphasis that was one of the reasons why the Broncos sought him in March.
It was real disappointing. This is our first goal line, and I felt great at the beginning of practice. Then in nine-on-seven, I tweaked the hip pointer again,” he said. “We’ll have another chance in goal line, so I’ll get my looks.”
Ekuban, meanwhile, fell to the grass during the move-the-ball period at the end of practice, but he rose and walked to the sideline under his own power.
“He’s fine,” Shanahan said. “He just got a little banged up and got the wind knocked out of him, but he’s fine.”
Even with those injuries, the heavy hitting of the day nevertheless exacted a far smaller toll than last year’s full-pads practice, when the Broncos lost Gerard Warren for the remainder of the preseason with a dislocated toe. Warren was never quite the same that year, fighting through pain the entire season.
By comparison, the Broncos emerged barely scathed from the intense two-and-a-half-hour session this year — and that was the best news they could receive before heading into a one-day respite.
More to come, including a breakdown of the top plays of practice, some notes from the one-on-one line drills and plenty of photos.