The Broncos hit the practice field for the fourth day of training camp Sunday afternoon, spending almost three hours in pads during one of those days where many of the players probably felt a mile closer to the sun than their offseason homes.
But the fans that braved the heat, and there was a lot of them judging by the packed hill, were rewarded as they were treated to an exciting day where the team focused heavily on red zone plays.
Newly acquired running back Willis McGahee and wide receiver David Anderson attended practice for the first time. Neither can participate until the new league year starts on Thursday, but both actively watched their new team. McGahee barely left the side of Running Backs Coach Eric Studesville, constantly asking him questions and trying to learn as much as he can about his new offense.
Linebacker D.J. Williams didn’t practice after sitting out Saturday morning’s padded practice, although he participated in the walkthrough Saturday evening. Running back LenDale White sat out practice as well with back spasms. Linebacker Dominic Douglas was waived.
Let’s jump right into it. The team devoted both of their 11-on-11 scrimmage sessions to red zone plays. The play that drew the loudest cheer came in the first session in the north end zone, when quarterback Tim Tebow scrambled to his left, and as he was backpedaling and falling out of bounds, heaved it towards the back of the end zone where rookie receiver Mark Dell caught it over a wall of defensive backs.
Rookie tight end Julius Thomas impressed, arguably catching the most passes for touchdowns during the two sessions. His most memorable catch was one thrown by quarterback Brady Quinn over the middle. Right after hauling it in, Thomas got leveled by linebacker Braxton Kelley but was able to hold on to the ball for the score. Thomas drew another loud cheer, catching a pass from Tebow during seven-on-seven drills and turning it into a long scoring run.
Cornerback Syd’Quan Thompson had the only interception of the day during the scrimmage sessions, picking off Tebow in the back of the south end zone. Thompson undercut Thomas for the interception and after he returned to the sideline, veteran safety Brian Dawkins fetched him some water.
Cornerback Cassius Vaughn also had an interception, but his came during one-on-one drills.
Speaking of which, to compliment the red zone scrimmage, there was plenty of action during the one-on-one drill session. Wide Receiver Eddie Royal put a nice stutter step move on veteran defensive back Nate Jones and caught a pass over his shoulder in the back of the end zone.
Also in on the action was receiver Brandon Lloyd. In a move many Broncos fans have come to recognize, Lloyd hauled in a pass with Champ Bailey in tight coverage by jumping and reaching back over the Pro Bowl cornerback’s head to turn a potential interception into a touchdown.
Receiver Eric Decker ran precise and smooth routes all day. He combined with fellow Minnesota quarterback and former teammate, rookie Adam Weber, for a Gopher-to-Gopher connection. While this was one of the first hook-ups the two have made as Broncos teammates, they are far from strangers as Decker caught 200 passes from Weber at the University of Minnesota from 2007-2009.
The defense ran some fun, interesting drills, especially at the beginning of practice. One drill involved five players at midfield, facing a coach, doing up-downs — essentially standing up, falling to the ground and doing a pushup, then jumping back up to repeat the process. When the coach yelled “Go!”, the five players turned and ran to a sideline where four footballs lay spread out. The player who didn’t get a football had to go do more up-downs near with a coach near the end zone.
During seven-on-sevens, the defensive and offensive lines battled each other in the north end zone near the fans. They were working on recognizing quarterback cadence, as two defensive linemen lined up against two offensive linemen while a coach barked out various snap signals. If a defensive player jumped offsides or an offensive player was called for a false start, the penalty was pushups. This happened a few times, and included in that group was defensive end Elvis Dumervil. However, he made up for it by fighting off two blocks to get into the backfield, where he was greeting with a chest bump and holler by defensive end Robert Ayers. Dumervil reciprocated the celebration a few plays later when linebacker Von Miller and Ayers both got into the backfield by yelling “Woo, sack!”
BACK TO SCHOOL
There was plenty of instruction going on today, especially between veterans and rookies. During a lull in practice, Dumervil pulled Miller off to the side and was giving him various tips. Also, rookie safety Rahim Moore spent a considerable amount of time picking Dawkins’ brain in the corner of the south end zone during the second session of full-team scrimmage. Dawkins seemed to be actively giving Moore tips on positioning and movement. Lloyd also gave tips to Dell on the side.
But the instruction wasn’t limited to veterans and rookies. Lloyd and Royal chatted after individual drills in which they ran end zone routes. The two receivers looked to be discussing nuances of route running. Also, during special teams drills, Royal went over some aspects of route running with Wide Receivers Coach Tyke Tolbert on the side field.
Just before practice, Carter walked out of the locker room and all the way across the field with Secondary Coach Ron Milus.
The team hits the field again on Monday morning at 8:50 A.M. in a practice that is open to the public. Below are more photos from the session.
Tags: Training Camp