Friday’s passing camp was called an “opportunity practice” for rookies and veterans new to the system. Several new faces took that opportunity to practice for the first time, including the team’s top 2010 draft pick, Demaryius Thomas.
Two players not on the field were Kyle Orton — one of the veterans who worked out separately — and Tom Brandstater, who Head Coach Josh McDaniels said the team has released.
“The reps have been dwindling, and to try to continue to keep a guy in a loop where he can be a competitive player on your team with very few reps, it’s hard to do,” McDaniels said. “I didn’t say (Brandstater) wasn’t a fit, we’ve just got three guys who are a better fit than he is.”
“Tom is going to go somewhere else and have an opportunity to make a career for himself,” he continued. “Certainly nothing that he did was negative or bad, it just wasn’t quite as good as the other guys. That’s the NFL.”
Brady Quinn and Tim Tebow split the repetitions during Friday’s practice.
Among the other newcomers to the practice field were Ryan Harris and J.J. Arrington and newly-signed players Kyle Eckel and Bruce Davis.
Another new addition was a receiver wearing No. 13 — Dicky Lyons, who switched from the No. 1 jersey he donned earlier in OTAs.
With so many newcomers — and so many veterans working out separately — Friday was a day for plenty of one-on-one coaching.
When Thomas was through with his turn in a drill, he stood with receivers coach Adam Gase, breaking down what the other receivers were doing. After practice, Thomas caught several garbage cans full of footballs launched from a JUGS machine, under the watch of Gase.
Arrington got some one-on-one time as well, as he went to the far field to work on handoffs with running backs coach Eric Studesville at one point while the rest of the team worked on a separate drill.
Players even got more tutoring from fellow players. Harris stood beside J.D. Walton for much of an offensive drill, seemingly giving him pointers throughout the session. And offensive line coach Clancy Barone was seen talking with Harris one-on-one throughout practice as well.
SHUFFLING THE LINEUP
With the camp comprised mainly of rookies and newcomers to the team, the lineups looked a little different. The first-unit offensive line featured Tyler Polumbus at left tackle, Zane Beadles at left guard, Walton at center, Seth Olsen at right guard and Harris at right tackle.
The second group of linemen was Chris Marinelli at left tackle, Stanley Daniels at left guard, Dustin Fry at center, Eric Olsen at right guard and D’Anthony Batiste at right tackle.
On defense, Marcus Thomas, Ronald Fields and Ryan McBean were on the line, while Jarvis Moss, Wesley Woodyard, Akin Ayodele and Ayers were at linebacker. Perrish Cox and Alphonso Smith lined up at cornerback, while Darcel McBath and Nate Jones stood in at safety.
Kenny McKinley, Cox, Smith and Syd’Quan Thompson took turns returning kicks, in that order.
DEFENSE ON TOP
Friday’s session seemed to be dominated by the defense. During one play in 11-on-11s, Quinn launched a pass downfield toward Toney Baker that was picked off by Josh Barrett. But as Barrett turned to run the other way, Baker stripped the ball from Barrett. Nevertheless, the defense fell on the loose ball for the turnover.
Later in the same drill, Alphonso Smith snagged a diving interception from Tim Tebow. He got up and sprinted downfield before being chased out of bounds by Eric Olsen and Fry.
During 7-on-7s, Brady Quinn fired a pass toward Richard Quinn, but with the defense closing fast, the ball bounced in the air only to be intercepted by Akin Ayodele. The linebacker ran it back for a touchdown, thanks to the blocking of Moss, who kept Brady Quinn from making the tackle. After the play, Josh McDaniels and quarterbacks coach Ben McDaniels pulled Brady Quinn and Tebow aside to discuss what happened on the play.
Cox was active throughout the day, breaking up several passes including a few in the red zone. Tony Carter got his hands on a pass to knock it to the ground as well, drawing cheers from his teammates on the sideline.
OFFENSE GETS REVENGE
Speaking of the red zone, when the offense and defense squared off in 7-on-7s near the goal line, Quinn and Tebow got their revenge. First it was Quinn who completed his first three passes, the third of which was a touchdown to Kenny McKinley. The connection drew disdain from Martindale, who took the blame — “That’s my fault, twos,” he said to the second-unit defense.
When Tebow stepped under center, his first pass was a touchdown in the back corner of the end zone to Alric Arnett, drawing a big fist pump from Josh McDaniels.
His second pass was another touchdown connection with Arnett on the opposite side of the end zone, but the defensive backs on the sideline claimed it was offensive pass interference.
Toward the end of practice, Quinn lofted a pass downfield for Patrick Honeycutt, who leaped in the air to haul it in. Meanwhile, Syd’Quan Thompson was closing fast, and the two collided in midair going for the ball. Honeycutt came away with the reception and Thompson helped him up after a few seconds on the grass. The big play earned Honeycutt a fist bump from offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.
Below are photos of the practice session.
-Gray Caldwell, DenverBroncos.com