As the offseason transitions to the preseason, the start of training camp is arguably the biggest milestone.
But the first day the pads go on takes everything to another level.
“We’re ready to get out there and finally have a chance to hit each other,” linebacker Wesley Woodyard smiled.
Saturday morning, the Broncos will don full pads for the first time in training camp.
The practice, which is open to the public, begins early — 8:50 a.m. MDT. Linebacker Joe Mays said the anticipation might make for a sleepless night.
“Tomorrow it’s going to have to be picked up just a couple notches,” he said. “The offense is definitely going to try to come at us tomorrow, and we have to be ready.”
Up to this point, Head Coach John Fox said it could be tough for players to know just how hard to come off the ball, since they didn’t have the protection of pads. After all, they’re on the same team.
While the excitement — and possibly speed — will rise with pads in the equation, Fox will still caution his team to keep their own safety in mind.
“We’re going to be competitive and we’re going to compete every day, but you just remind guys these are your teammates,” the head coach said. “There are certain downs where you tell guys to cut back for the well-being of their teammates.”
On the other hand, being able to go full-speed in pads is what helps build the team as the regular season approaches.
“There’s only so much you can tell in shorts,” Woodyard said. “The real men come out in pads. That’s what the coaching staff and our other teammates are waiting to see.”
For a rookie experiencing his first NFL training camp — especially one on the defensive line — Saturday morning’s milestone can’t come soon enough.
“Everything changes when you get pads on,” Derek Wolfe said. “That’s when you have to put your big boy pants on. It’s like that at every level. When the pads come on, you either get exposed or you expose people.
“I’m excited for it. I can’t wait.”
Tags: 2012 Training Camp