Bright blue skies and a few clouds welcomed the team to the morning practice on day three that was spent mostly working on the run game.
From run blocking drills on offense to run fits on defense, the ground game was highlighted in this morning’s two-hour practice. As is becoming the norm, a large crowd cheered on the team throughout the session.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
With the running game the focus of the day, all four running backs and fullback Spencer Larsen got extensive work carrying the ball. Kolby Smith got the majority of carries with the first group, but the order would change from drill to drill.
In 9-on-7 and the team portion, Zane Beadles manned left guard with J.D. Walton running center for the first team. Head Coach Josh McDaniels has said that he is going to rotate those positions during camp and today was Beadles and Walton’s opportunity.
With D.J. Williams not on the practice field, Wesley Woodyard took his spot with the first unit.
In keeping with the running game spirit of the day, most of the drills involved 1-on-1 and group blocking. On one side of the field, the tight ends and offensive tackles teamed up on the defensive tackles and outside linebackers while on the other side of the field the guards and centers took on the nose tackles and middle backers.
Running backs coach Eric Studesville had the running backs work on lead blocking on a blocking sled. All the backs earned extensive praise from Studesville on the drill for keeping their pad level low. Studesville urged the backs to take that intensity into the 9-on-7 period.
In the 9-on-7 period, the first group of defenders; Ryan McBean, Ronald Fields, Justin Bannan, Elvis Dumervil, Robert Ayers, Woodyard and Mario Haggan slowed down the running game. Once they were spelled by the second unit, Lance Ball made one cut and was headed to the end zone, drawing the ire of Wink Martindale.
While the running game was being worked on one field, the quarterbacks, wide receivers and secondary went through drills on the other. The drill had two wide receivers going against man coverage with a safety over top.
During the special teams period of practice, kickoff return was the focus. Through most of camp, Eddie Royal, Alphonso Smith, Perrish Cox and Matthew Willis have taken all the reps. Today, Cassius Vaughn took several reps returning kicks and drew the praise of his teammates on his first return.
In this space and on other locations, you have probably heard the name Matthew Willis mentioned multiple times for his play on offense. Today’s mention is a littler different as it involves him hitting rather than catching. Early in the team period, Tim Tebow found Richard Quinn streaking across the middle. As Quinn turned up field, Woodyard stripped the ball from him and Alphonso Smith scooped it up. As Smith was headed to the sideline, so was Willis who collided with Smith for the biggest hit of camp thus far. The sound of the collision drew an “ooohhhh” from those in attendance.
Several passes came close to being intercepted, but the only man who was able to pull one in was Darcel McBath. McBath was in the right place at the right time as Demaryius Thomas tipped a ball right into his hands.
During a two-minute drill to end practice, Kyle Orton found Jabar Gaffney streaking down the sideline for a touchdown.
Before practice, wide receivers coach Adam Gase worked with Thomas and Eric Decker on getting off of press coverage.
Larsen has been active in the running game and passing game. On one play, Orton bought some time and found Larsen open in the middle. Just as he turned up field Ayers met him with a big hit. The former linebacker appreciated the knock and gave Ayers a congratulatory slap on the helmet.
Quinn went deep on two consecutive plays in the team session. On the first one, he had Brandon Stokley in stride, but Smith knocked the ball away at the last moment. On the next play, Decker beat his man and caught the pass down the middle of the field.
The team worked on punting out of the end zone and some situational drills including second-and-one and drawing the defense offside on fourth-and-1.
TRAINING CAMP JUKEBOX
Offseason champ Russ Hochstein is rumored to have picked out this morning’s playlis, which featured Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ball and Chain by Social Distortion and Fishing in the Dark by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
Also played during practice to simulate crowd noise, was Mother by Danzig and Rick Ross’ B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast). The latter had the defense swaying back and forth in the huddle.
Below are some photos from today’s morning session. The team will be back on the field this afternoon at 4 p.m. for a practice closed to the public, but DenverBroncos.com will still provide coverage.
-Kyle Sonneman, DenverBroncos.com
Tags: 2010, Training Camp