As the Broncos took the field Thursday afternoon, a few rain clouds loomed in the distance but the sun was shining at Dove Valley. About 10 minutes into the stretching period, a strong wind started to blow and the camera towers started to shake. But despite the wind gusts, the team started the session strong in full pads to the delight of the 1,130 fans in attendance.
The Broncos turned in a productive workout as they began to ready for Sunday’s preseason opener in Cincinnati. Most of the 11-on-11 sessions were designed for either the offense or defense to simulate the Bengals with select players sporting red jerseys corresponding to Cincinnati players. Intensity took a back seat to learning for most of the day as both sides practiced against a variety of packages and formations.
The session ended on a good note when Matt Prater booted a 61-yard field goal to earn the team’s offseason champions a night without curfew. Several of his teammates started getting loud and the crowd joined in, but everyone was excited when the kick — hit with the wind at his back — easily cleared the uprights.
Tight ends coach Bob Ligashesky busted out an invention to make sure his players focused on keeping their hands inside the opponent’s pads during blocking drills. The tight ends drilled with several towels taped together in a circular shape looped around their arms to keep their hands close together when blocking.
Linebackers and defensive linemen worked on using their hands to maintain balance and shed blockers doing drills in which they had to disengage from a blocker, stop a ball rolled toward them by a coach and then chase down a ball carrier. The linebackers used a big red ball, while the linemen had a smaller one.
Inside linebackers and running backs drilled together for a period. First, the defenders had to try to cover the backs coming out of the backfield. Later, the running backs had to try to pick up the blitzing linebackers.
During 1-on-1 pass rushing drills, linebackers Robert Ayers, Mario Haggan and Jammie Kirlew mixed in to give linemen a taste of blocking a speed rusher off the outside edge.
There wasn’t as much hitting during the drills designed to gameplan for the Bengals, but during a rushing period, Ben Garland swatted a fumble away from Lance Ball. Ball headed off on a lap to remind him the importance of ball security.
Late in the session during a defensive period, Brian Dawkins grabbed an interception tossed by Brady Quinn.
Prater took advantage of the high winds during kick-off drills. With the wind at his back, he blasted kick-offs through the end zone, including several through the uprights. Most times a coach simply tossed a ball to the returner and the play continued, but when they wanted the returner to make the catch, Prater moved up and took just one step before hitting the ball. His kick to end practice likely earned him some friends as well.
During the team periods, there weren’t a lot of big plays, but a long catch by Patrick Carter from Brady Quinn gave the fans something to get excited about.
WIN THE GAME
The final drive was an end of game 2-minute drill led by Orton. The team had one timeout and started at its own 10-yard line, needing a field goal to win.
On the drive, Orton went 6-for-9 to move the team down the field, including a big conversion to Brandon Stokley on 3rd-and-17 after a sack. Brandon Lloyd made the last three catches on the drive to get the team into field goal range. One was a 12-yard out on which he tapped his toes before ending up in the crowd. The last was a 13-yard sideline route with 7.5 seconds left to set up a 37-yard field goal, which Prater connected on.
New Bronco Johnny Williams, a linebacker who signed this morning, took part in position drills and jumped right in on the first team kick coverage unit.
Former Broncos quarterback Brian Griese, who will serve as the primary radio color commentator in the KOA Radio booth beside Dave Logan this season, watched the session from the sideline. At one point, Broncos President and CEO Pat Bowlen joined him for a chat.
There was a steady stream of players heading to the team’s weight facility for individual workouts throughout the afternoon that included nearly every player who did not practice. Dustin Fry, Chris Kuper, Eddie Royal, Marquez Branson, Demaryius Thomas, Knowshon Moreno, Correll Buckhalter, LenDale White and Eric Decker made the trek.
TRAINING CAMP JUKEBOX
Offseason champion Russ Hochstein designed an interesting mix for the stretching period. The time began with a few bars of “Soul Glo,” the fictional jingle from the 1988 film “Coming to America.” This got the players excited as Brian Dawkins, Ryan McBean and Brandon Lloyd were among the players dancing to the beat.
But it quickly did an about face with a pair of country hits, George Strait’s “Cowboys Like Us” and Jamey Johnson’s “Between Jennings and Jones” before finishing with Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.” These three selections earned much less rave reviews from his teammates.
Starting with the first 11-on-11 period, the music to simulate crowd noise blared and returned often throughout the workout. Selections meant to mimic the noise the team will face at Paul Brown Stadium included AC/DC’s “Back in Black” and Modest Mouse’s “Float On.”
- Eric Detweiler, DenverBroncos.com
Below are some photos from the session:
Tags: 2010, Brian Dawkins, Day 12, Kyle Orton, Matt Prater, Training Camp