After a record-setting streak of days with the temperature above 90 degrees, Tuesday morning brought a much welcomed cool front. When I heard over the radio on the way to Dove Valley that the high was predicted to be 82 degrees, I laughed.
Thankfully, they were right. The players (and I) enjoyed temperatures in the low 70s throughout the morning camp session. And now for quick hits from practice.
ATTENDANCE REPORT: Hamza Abdullah remained on the sideline, nursing his strained groin. Peyton Hillis, after making it back onto the field yesterday morning, sat out again. Chad Mustard and Tom Nalen remain out with a right hamstring and left knee, respectively. Montrae Holland continues to work on his own, though he later came out and watched from the sidelines. He looks slimmer to me.
Champ Bailey also missed practice with a sore right hamstring. Bailey spent his time watching from the sidelines with teammates or on the field talking with Head Coach Mike Shanahan. But don’t worry Broncos Country, Shanahan quickly pointed out that No. 24 is a quick healer.
POSTURING FOR POSITION: Yesterday, Niko Koutouvides ran with the first team at middle linebacker, despite the depth chart naming Nate Webster as the starter. Today, Webster was back in the starting lineup. Shanahan clearly meant it when he told reporters yesterday that “we are going to switch off in the middle linebacker position. By no means anyone has that job locked up.”
Nate Jackson got back into the starting rotation at tight end today, working with Daniel Graham in two tight end sets, but Tony Scheffler stole the show later in practice with several big plays down the field.
Michael Pittman continued to take a lot of reps at fullback, but Cecil Sapp took the majority. Pittman also got in the mix at running back in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills.
FOCAL POINTS: After the usual individual position group drills, the team got together for 7-on-7s, 11-on-11s and the two-minute drill. They also worked on last-second-field goal drills, like we all saw during Week 1 last year when the Broncos took down the Bills 15-14 in the final seconds.
The defense worked on the nickel formation much of the day, allowing Karl Paymah to get more reps than usual.
All-around communication was also emphasized, with the team huddling up as an entire group several times before breaking with a “Broncos” chant. The offense and defense each huddled up on their own several times as well. Players on the sidelines were particularly vocal, especially Dre’ Bly, constantly yelling onto the field to point things out to their teammates or offer a few congratulatory words.
TAKE AWAYS: Coaches brought out the clock for practice to work on that field goal drill. With never more than 20 seconds on the clock, the field goal unit would rush from the sideline onto the field, set up and get the kick away. Matt Prater performed all the kicks, with Sam Paulescu holding.
-They ran four drills to get things going. To throw an extra kink in there, the Special Teams Coordinator Scott O’Brien would call a timeout at the last second, making them back off the line and re-huddle before lining up for the kick again. This didn’t bother Prater, as he nailed all four from 35 yards.
-Then they backed it up. From 58 yards out, Prater missed his first wide left. He made up for it on his second attempt from 58 however, splitting the uprights.
-They also performed the standard field goal drills, and Prater knocked eight straight through the uprights from 30, 34, 39, 39, 39, 41, 41 and 42 yards away. He finished 13 of 14 on the day, and with kicks coming in such quick succession, he iced his leg after finishing the drills.
-It seems we have gotten a good number of questions recently about the offensive line, so I made sure to pay attention the the big men down in the trenches a little more. Ryan Clady has constantly impressed, showing good mobility. He held off Ebenezer Ekuban on one play and followed it up by adjusting quickly and stopping the speed rush of Jarvis Moss.
-Today, it was Ryan Harris that caught my eye. He really seemed to have his head on a swivel, and he shifted both left and right to ward off the rush. On one particular play, he completely held John Engelberger in check. He worked as a tandem with Chris Kuper to take down both Tim Crowder and Nic Clemons one one play.
-Kuper continues to wear a giant club cast on his right hand, and Dewayne Robertson had a close encounter with it. Kuper kept his hands high as he blocked Robertson. In the process, the club-casted hand slid up and popped Robertson’s helmet off accidentally.
-Pittman had some highlight worthy plays at fullback during 11-on-11 drills. Marquand Manuel came on a blitz and came head-to-head with Pittman. Pads and helmets popped, and it ended with Manuel on the ground. He hopped right back up, but Pittman’s big block led to some teammates issuing a few groans from the sidelines. He also went up against a full-on rush from Louis Green and stopped him cold.
-After Pittman switched to RB, he took a run up the middle and was taken down quickly by Josh Mallard, with a “Good job 9-8″ coming from defensive coordinator Bob Slowik.
-11-on-11 drills began with the offense backed up into the endzone, starting at their own 2 yard line. The first play was a reverse that Brandon Marshall took for a big first down. The second play was a laser from Cutler to Marshall on an out-route in front of Bly. “Good job boy,” Bly shouted to Marshall.
-Jarvis Moss made some big plays, penetrating the line on back-to-back plays for a tackle in the backfield and a would-be sack.
-Cutler connected with a wide open Scheffler for a 70-yard touchdown, drawing cheers and applause from the fans.
-Lamont Reid snared an interception when Patrick Ramsey tried to hit Scheffler down the middle, but Jamie Winborn tipped the ball.
-Elvis Dumervil would have notched a sack on Cutler had it been in a game, bull-rushing around the left side and getting past Clady.
-With Ramsey in the shotgun, Pittman and Ryan Torain both lined up at running back, with the handoff going to the rookie, spinning out of tackles up the middle.
-Eddie Royal caught a deep long pass on a crossing route in the final drill of practice, tip-toeing and falling out of bounds as he made the grab. It set up a Samie Parker touchdown in the back of the endzone from Darrell Hackney.
QUOTABLE: “Come on boy! You’re gonna drop that?” – Dre’ Bly to Nate Webster after the linebacker dropped an easy pick that practically landed in his lap.
Pictures to come…
– Adam Zinser, DenverBroncos.com
Tags: Adam Zinser, Brandon Marshall, Chad Mustard, Champ Bailey, Chris Kuper, Depth Chart, Dewayne Robertson, Dre Bly, Eddie Royal, Elvis Dumervil, Hamza Abdullah, Jarvis Moss, Jay Cutler, John Engelberger, Matt Prater, Michael Pittman, Mike Shanahan, Montrae Holland, Nate Jackson, Nate Webster, Niko Koutouvides, Patrick Ramsey, Peyton Hillis, Rookies, Ryan Clady, Ryan Harris, Sam Paulescu, Tim Crowder, Tom Nalen, Tony Scheffler, Training Camp, Uncategorized