Well, it’s official. Brandon Marshall has started taking over training camp, and Saturday was certainly B. Marsh day. It’s only fitting that two receivers — Eddie Royal and Lorne Sam — opened up practice with a dancing breakdown, because the wide outs took care of business this morning in front of a crowd of 1,744 fans.
ATTENDANCE REPORT: Hamza Abdullah watched practice from the sidelines with a groin…Boss Bailey was out of pads with a right knee…Chad Mustard remained out of pads with a right hamstring…Tom Nalen sat out with a left knee…Montrae Holland continued watching practice from the sidelines after working out with Rich Tuten…Michael Pittman and Peyton Hillis were back in uniform this morning.
Spencer Larsen also missed practice — his wife is having a baby.
POSTURING FOR POSITION: Niko Koutouvides was handling the first unit Mike linebacker duties today. The second team safeties were Roderick Rogers and Josh Barrett, who had a big day on the field.
FOCAL POINTS: The offense ran through its “rally” offense a little early in practice, working on hurrying up to the line and spiking the ball. Rather than one-on-ones with DBs vs. WRs, the entire units lined up against each other for several drills. The team once again worked on its 4-minute drill during 11-on-11 drills. It was a big day for the field goal unit — more on that later.
TAKE AWAYS: It seemed like Marshall was involved in almost every key play Saturday morning. Early on he caught a long spiral from Jay Cutler over Dre’ Bly on the sideline, then later it was virtually the same play but over the middle — Marshall just turned around and jumped, making it look easy.
During one of the WR vs. DB drills, Marshall ran to the middle of the endzone, turned and made a diving catch at the front corner in front of Domonique Foxworth. He got up and ran back to the receiver huddle yelling in celebration. Fox and Marshall had some great battles — in the other endzone during a similar drill, Foxworth had perfect coverage but Cutler rocketed the ball into Marshall’s hands, and it looked like he wouldn’t be able to hold on but as he fell he continued tipping the ball until he gained control as he hit the ground. Foxworth fell on top of him and put him in a playful headlock as coaches yelled, “Nice catch!” and “Good coverage, Foxy!”
And those were just the biggest plays. Marshall was all over the field this morning.
- With one of the biggest crowds so far in training camp in attendance, Matt Prater stepped up to his spot behind the line during field goal drills. He casually knocked in his first eight attempts — two from 35, two from 39, two from 42 and two from 46 yards out. Then Head Coach Mike Shanahan called him back a few yards and had him kick again. Prater lined it up, knocked it straight and made a 59-yard field goal with plenty of distance. The crowd erupted.
But Prater wasn’t done. He backed it up nine more yards and banged home a 68-yarder split right through the uprights. That got everyone pretty fired up. In other words, Prater finished 10-for-10 from 35-68 yards.
- Soon after Prater’s field goal clinic, Cutler launched a ball toward the secondary, but it was tipped at the line. Nate Jackson adjusted and snatched the ball out of mid-air, then Barrett laid a big hit on him that dropped him to the ground — Jackson held on to the ball, however.
That wasn’t the last Jackson-Barrett collision. During a goal-line play, Cutler threw a quick pass out to Jackson who made it to the three-yard line before Barrett clobbered him out of bounds. Barrett said after practice he might have been a little overzealous, but luckily Jackson is the kind of guy who can laugh it off.
- Marshall wasn’t the only receiver to get involved. Stokley had a couple nice catches over the middle, and the tight ends got into the action as well. Brett Pierce made another tough over-the-shoulder catch, just two days after making a big diving grab in front of a couple defenders. Jackson made his big plays, Daniel Graham caught two bullets from Cutler over the middle including one for a touchdown, and Tony Scheffler caught a long bomb from Darrell Hackney on a play action play that had the tight end running all alone down the middle of the field for a touchdown.
- The defense wasn’t totally outdone, however. Barrett had his big hits, and Domonique Foxworth made up for his tough battles with Marshall with an interception towards the end of practice. What made the play even more interesting was what happened just before it. Abdullah was talking with Montrae Holland on the sideline, and told him to watch the next play closely. “If they even look in his direction, Fox is going to pick it off,” he said. After the play he celebrated a little — “Told you! Told you!”
BIRTHDAY BOY: Pro Scouting / Director of Special Services Fred Fleming celebrated a birthday today. Fred is an integral member of the organization who patrols the sidlines between the two practice fields, making sure the media behaves itself.
QUOTABLE: “Until I do it in a game, there’s going to be questions. But hopefully I’ll get the opportunity and do well.”
- Matt Prater, on his 68-yard field goal.
-Gray Caldwell, DenverBroncos.com