On a day that featured a lot of playmaking from young guys and veterans alike, the Broncos got some bad news. During offensive versus defensive drills focusing on running plays, rookie Ryan Torain sprinted to the right and fell awkwardly with defenders on top of him. He broke a bone in the upper part of his elbow, and Head Coach Mike Shanahan said he expects him to be out 6 to 8 weeks. Torain will undergo an MRI today and Shanahan said they’ll wait to see if there’s ligament damage.
“That’s football,” Shanahan said. “You’re going to lose guys, there’s nothing you can do about it. Except get better.”
In that light, here are some quick hits from an otherwise very exciting practice.
ATTENDANCE REPORT: Hamza Abdullah sat out of practice with a groin…Champ Bailey watched from the sidelines as well with a right hamstring…Peyton Hillis was out of pads with a left hamstring…Chad Mustard didn’t participate with a right hamstring…Tom Nalen observed practice with a left knee…Dewayne Robertson was out of pads as well with a left knee.
POSTURING FOR POSITION: On several plays, Eddie Royal was lined up in the slot beside Brandon Marshall, with Darrell Jackson at the other wide out position. Occasionally, however, Nate Jackson was lined up wide in Darrell Jackson’s position.
Ebenezer Ekuban got some reps at defensive end after spending most of his time during OTAs and so far in training camp at the defensive tackle position.
During a goal-line drill, five defensive linemen stepped to the line of scrimmage with the first unit — Tim Crowder, Kenny Peterson, Marcus Thomas, Alvin McKinley and John Engelberger.
FOCAL POINTS: The team worked on drills aimed specifically at running plays, went a couple rounds of the offense versus defense on the two-yard line, had some 7-on-7, practiced driving the ball down field and worked on field goals.
TAKE AWAYS: Dre’ Bly had a solid practice, at one point leaping in the air to break up what looked like a sure Marshall reception. On another play Bly blitzed into the backfield and caused a fumble on a handoff to Andre Hall.
- Hall had to be feeling better a few drills after the botched handoff, when he caught a quick pass from Hackney, turned up field and made a move on Karl Paymah so convincing that Paymah fell down and Hall ran right past him.
- Anthony Alridge had quite the day as well. It started early on in practice when he caught a screen pass and grabbed a quick first down past the defense. Then during the goal-line drill, it was 185-pound Alridge who stuck his head in the middle of the pack and forced his way into the endzone for the first touchdown. Two series later, Alridge caught a pass from Jay Cutler and sprinted his way to the front corner of the endzone for his second touchdown of the drill.
Twice during practice Alridge caught a quick pass and bounced outside before the defense even knew what hit them. He had nothing but green ahead of him except for rookie Jack Williams both times, and twice after a few moves Williams made the great open-field tackle.
- Williams had one of his best practices today as well. Besides the two one-on-one tackles which garnered him praise from his coaches and teammates, one play stood out. Michael Pittman found a huge hole in the line and ran straight up the middle. Yes, the 6-foot, 225-pound, I-occasionally-line-up-at-fullback Michael Pittman. And Williams — who gives up three inches and 40 pounds to the running back — was waiting for him, laying a big hit that stood Pittman up and the play was blown dead. “I see you Jack!” was heard from pretty much all directions. As the next unit ran out onto the field, another gem was shouted: “Hey, give that man a medal for that!”
- During drills toward the end of practice Pittman redeemed himself, hauling in a long catch-and-run from Cutler up the middle, and he would have been gone for a touchdown if the play was live. He kept running up the field, however, and Domonique Foxworth continued to chase him. Pittman started to mess around, running zig-zags to keep Foxworth away, but Fox eventually knocked the ball out of his hands anyway. The play was long over, but Defensive Coordinator Bob Slowik told Foxworth he liked his hustle.
- Boss Bailey showed his coverage skills early in practice, when he sprinted in to get a hand on a bullet pass from Cutler to Royal, breaking up what could have been a big gain.
- Clifford Russell had easily the most impressive catch of the day, hauling in what looked to be an impossible grab with Williams and Roderick Rogers draped all over him. Falling down, Russell reached out his hands and held onto the ball as he hit the ground and his defenders watched incredulously.
QUOTABLE: “It’s a big loss. I thought he had a chance to compete to be a starting running back. One of the most gifted running backs that I’ve been around for a long time, very similar to Terrell Davis when he came in. So obviously he’s got a set-back that he’s got to deal with.”
- Head Coach Mike Shanahan, on the injury to Ryan Torain.
-Gray Caldwell, DenverBroncos.com