On a beautiful day in South Florida, the AFC squad took the field first on the opening day of practice for the 2010 Pro Bowl.
It was a day that was just as much about getting acquainted with new teammates as running drills, and the loose session included plenty of laughs. Some of the loudest came from Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco, who not surprisingly spent much of the morning trying to get a rise out of the crowd of high schoolers who watched the practice at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
At times it almost looked like a regular Broncos practice, as five Denver players took the field — Champ Bailey, Ryan Clady, Brian Dawkins, Elvis Dumervil and Brandon Marshall. It was a typical affair, as Bailey matched up against Marshall plenty of times, and Clady found himself blocking Dumervil on a number of occasions.
Some of the odder sights of the day came on special teams. First, Marshall dropped back to field a few punts — nothing too out of the ordinary — except the kicks were coming from Ochocinco. Later, Marshall took a few turns at long snapper, sending the ball back to Baltimore running back Ray Rice, who punted a couple deep balls. Some of the blockers on the punt team included Dumervil, Dawkins and Titans quarterback Vince Young.
If any Broncos fans were in attendance, things might have seemed a little backwards. Clady took his snaps as the starting right tackle, as Cleveland’s Joe Thomas lined up at left tackle. The reasoning? Most likely the fact that Thomas has been elected to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons in the league — he gets to exercise a bit of seniority.
So while the practice was about joking around with some of the AFC’s best, Bailey said he knows the group will get down to business as Sunday approaches.
“You want to come out here, have some fun and take advatange of the opportunity to play with some of these elite guys, guys you watch throughout the league,” Bailey said. “It’s a good thing to build camaraderie and build relationships, but at the same time we want to win.”
-Gray Caldwell, DenverBroncos.com
Here are more photos from the opening practice session:
For more photos of Wednesday’s action, check out the photo gallery.