This morning’s practice was once again highlighted by the defense. A day after the offense made some solid plays, the defense tightened up and made sure most of the action was on their side of the ball. There were still some offensive highlights, however. Here are some quick hits.
ATTENDANCE REPORT: John Lynch was excused from practice for personal reasons…Peyton Hillis remained out of pads with a left hamstring…Michael Pittman was out of pads with a left hamstring…Dewayne Robertson was out of pads with a left knee…Tom Nalen came out to practice with a jersey on but took it off before warmups, watching practice from the sidlines…Chad Mustard, on the PUP list, was out of pads with a right hamstring…Montrae Holland continued working with Strength and Conditioning Coach Rich Tuten to get to his playing weight.
POSTURING FOR POSITION: With Lynch out of practice, Marlon McCree took his place with the first unit defense. Alvin McKinley and Ebenezer Ekuban rotated taking Robertson’s spot in the first unit.
Ekuban has been playing almost entirely as a defensive tackle during training camp — in the past he has played primarily as an end.
FOCAL POINTS: The team worked on field goals — Prater was 7-of-8 from 36-44 yards — the rabbit drill and the usual 7-on-7s, 11-on-11s and one on ones between the offensive and defensive lines.
The team also worked on third-down and pass-rushing defense. In one package, Jarvis Moss and Elvis Dumervil manned the end positions with Josh Mallard and Ebenezer Ekuban clogging the middle. Boss Bailey and D.J. Williams stood at the linebacker positions, and the secondary was composed of Champ Bailey, Dre’ Bly, Hamza Abdullah, Marlon McCree and Domonique Foxworth.
TAKE AWAYS: Ekuban has been taking advantage of his defensive tackle position. He jumped and knocked away a pass that looked to be a completion from Jay Cutler to Eddie Royal. A few plays later, Moss swatted another pass at the line.
- Speaking of Royal, Wednesday seemed to be his coming-out party. He has made great plays before, but this morning he made several grabs including one where he layed out to catch a laser from Cutler in between Jack Williams and Roderick Rogers. During 7 on 7 drills, he also got away from Bly and made a long over-the-shoulder catch for a nice gain, and later caught another bomb for a touchdown.
- Later in practice, Bly had a great jump on the ball and stepped right in front of Daniel Graham for an interception.
- In addition to his tipped pass, Moss followed Marcus Thomas’ lead from a few days ago and blew up two plays in a row. First he tackled Anthony Alridge at the line, then followed that up with a big hit on Ryan Torain in the backfield.
- During 7-on-7, Keary Colbert caught a long, perfectly-placed pass from Darrell Hackney on his fingertips between Karl Paymah and Rogers at about the five-yard line.
- Boss Bailey had some nice coverage on Andre Hall out of the backfield, stalking him to the sideline and knocking the pass away before it could get to him.
- Rookie Josh Barrett made a big play during 7-on-7 drills. Tony Scheffler made a great grab in traffic and starting running up the sidelines, but Barrett ran at him and stripped away the ball. Not only did he cause the fumble but he recovered it as well and ran to the opposite sideline before the entire offense chased him out of bounds.
- During 11-on-11 drills, Niko Koutouvides had a big stop lined up when a run came up the middle of the line. Then he realized it was Cutler on a keeper, and he quickly slowed up and let his quarterback go with a light tap.
- Speaking of tackles, Abdullah got a light rebuke from Head Coach Mike Shanahan when he wrapped up Selvin Young and actually tackled him on a run play. Abdullah fell back into good graces later in practice when he lept to snag the second interception of the day.
- In celebrations-gone-wrong news, Larry Birdine made a big stop during 11-on-11s, then jumped up and ran toward the secondary celebrating. Jack Williams was unfortunate enough to get in the way and got leveled by a clothesline. He caught his breath while the defense had a laugh.
QUOTABLE: “Oh, you mean Hulk Hogan? I ran over there to give him a five and I was on the ground two second later, that’s all I remember.”
- Jack Williams, laughing about Birdine’s celebration knock-out swing.
Oh, and if you haven’t checked out the first edition of The Mailbag, answering many of the comments you all have written, go back a couple posts and skim through it. It also introduces us bloggers you have been reading.
-Gray Caldwell, DenverBroncos.com