The Broncos and Cowboys got back to it this afternoon, kicking off the second practice at around 4:30. At an hour and a half long, the afternoon session was a little shorter than the morning one, and after individual team drills, the two teams came together for two 11-on-11 periods with a special teams segment wedged in between.
ATTENDANCE REPORT: In addition to the players out of pads during the morning session, a number of Broncos veterans got their normal afternoon off. Ebenezer Ekuban, Darrell Jackson, Dewayne Robertson, Brandon Stokley and Casey Wiegmann joined their injured teammates on the sidelines.
POSTURING FOR POSITION: The lineups were the same for the most part, but with both Nalen and Wiegmann out, P.J. Alexander and Kory Lichtensteiger rotated at the center position. Kenny Peterson worked with the starting defense in the place of Robertson.
MATCHUPS: As with this morning, each field had a different set of drills, so we combined “Focal Points” and “Key Plays” into one category. Here is the breakdown of how each competition went down.
Broncos Offense vs. Cowboys Defense: After some less-than-complimentary statements from Adam Jones comparing him to Terrell Owens after the morning session, Brandon Marshall jogged out to the practice field wearing a piece of tape at the bottom of his shoulder pads. It read: “21’s No Champ.”
Marshall didn’t match up with Jones often in the afternoon practice, though he did his fair share of damage against the 5-foot-10 corner earlier in the day.
“Against Pacman, I think today I was 5 for 6 — and the other one I just dropped the ball,” he said with a smile.
- Jones did line up a few times with Eddie Royal, who had another stellar practice. On one play in particular, Royal lined up across from Jones and ran straight up the field. Jones appeared to release him to the safety, but the help never came. Jay Cutler let loose a spiral and Royal was gone for what would have been an easy touchdown as Jones and safety Patrick Watkins tried to figure out what went wrong.
- That was just the beginning of Royal’s day. After stretching, warm-ups and a couple individual drills, the teams went right into 11-on-11s against each other. On one of the first plays of the drill, Royal leaped to catch a Cutler pass and was knocked to the ground by the Cowboys’ Ken Hamlin but held onto the ball. On another play later in practice, Royal ran a post route and found a hole in the Cowboys’ zone. Cutler dropped a pass right into Royal’s hands between Hamlin and Cowboys rookie Mike Jenkins. Almost the exact same play happened on the second-to-last snap of practice with Royal catching a floater wide open in the middle of the Dallas D.
- Cutler looked agile at practice, several times avoiding a sack and rolling left or right and finding on one occasion Selvin Young, another Daniel Graham, and on one more a leaping Marshall.
- One play had the Cowboys fooled – Cutler faked a handoff to Selvin Young headed left with Peyton Hillis leading the way, then rolled to the right and floated a pass over the top of the defense to a streaking Daniel Graham for another would-be touchdown.
- The offensive line blocked the “giant” Cowboys well, only allowing what looked like one sack on a play where Cutler had to toss the ball at the feet of his receiver. On one particular play, linebacker Bradie James got a perfect running start and it looked like a sure sack but the line stopped him at the point of attack, giving Cutler plenty of time for a completion.
- Michael Pittman had a solid practice, consistently finding holes in the defense and ripping off chunks of yardage.
- On a toss out to the left, Selvin Young froze Zach Thomas with a move that drew “Oooohs” from the Broncos sideline. Thomas pushed Young beyond the sideline and yelled back, “Out of bounds, baby.”
- Anthony Alridge, who earlier in the day said he wanted to call his dad to tell him he’d bumped up against Roy Williams on a few plays, took the ball on a handoff to the right, cut back and sprinted to the left sideline before beating the defense to the corner and sprinting to the endzone.
Special Teams: This time around it was the Cowboys who practiced field goals and punted to the Broncos. Eddie Royal, Glenn Martinez and Marquay McDaniel fielded the punts, in that order.
- In what was the only real “scuffle” of the day, Wale Dada and Lorne Sam were blocking Dallas’ Alan Ball down the field on a punt return. Sam gave an especially hard push that knocked Ball down out of bounds, then Ball got back up and charged at Sam but Dada pushed him back down to the ground. The whistle blew and everyone got up, gave a friendly handshake and helmet tap and that was the end of it. As Head Coach Mike Shanahan said Tuesday – cooler heads always prevail.
Broncos Defense vs. Cowboys Offense: With nearly the entirety of practice devoted to 11-on-11 drills, the full Broncos D and Cowboys O were able to run more plays against each other, leading to even more action. As with this morning, both sides made their fair share of big plays. The Broncos defensive linemen seemed a little more amped, and it showed on the field as they would have recorded five sacks.
- During the first 11-on-11 session, Tim Crowder registered a pair of would-be sacks within a couple plays of each other. On both plays, Crowder used an inside move to get past the blocker, getting first to Brad Johnson and then to Tony Romo on the later play.
- Fellow second-year defensive end Jarvis Moss got into the action as well, using a quick inside spin move to get past Cowboys tackle Kory Lekkerkerker. He pressured Johnson, who forced to throw to an unprepared Mike Jefferson, who bobbled the pass and tipped it into the air. Webster took advantage of the situation and picked off the pass, taking it the other way. In a game, the interception would not have happened since Moss would have sacked Johnson.
- Paul Carrington and Larry Birdine teamed up through the middle of the line for what would have been a sack of Johnson.
- The defensive linemen weren’t the only ones to have all the fun, however, as Jamie Winborn would have sacked Romo on a blitz up the middle.
- On the second play of practice, the Cowboys ran a reverse, but Paul Carrington sniffed it out. He broke through the line and took down the runner several yards behind the line of scrimmage, resulting in a shout of “DEFENSE!” from Nate Webster.
- Marcus Thomas had another solid practice, including one play where the Cowboys o-line did a good job of initially stopping the pass rush, but Thomas gave a second burst and got through to take down Felix Jones for no gain.
- Webster, still playing with the second team defense, had a couple big stops to go with his interception. He busted through the line to hit Alonzo Coleman in the backfield, eventually stopping him for no gain.
- But just because the defense performed well doesn’t mean Cowboys played poorly. Romo made several nice passes into tight spots in the middle of the field. He launched a fastball to Sam Hurd between two defenders on one play and followed it up with a high toss to Isaiah Stanback, with Domonique Foxworth in tight coverage.
- Johnson also threw some pretty good ones, tossing one out in the flats to Coleman who took it for a sizeable gain along with hitting Martellus Bennett across the middle in double coverage.
QUOTABLE: “I have the same confidence against Champ, but the only thing about Champ is I’m not going to win a lot of them.”
-Marshall, on having confidence that Adam Jones can’t cover him.
One more note, tickets are still available for Saturday’s preseason game at INVESCO Field at Mile High against the Cowboys. They can be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets, via Ticketmaster Charge By Phone, through online sales at www.ticketmaster.com and at the INVESCO Field at Mile High box office.
Click here for the photo gallery from the afternoon practice.
– Gray Caldwell and Adam Zinser, DenverBroncos.com
Tags: Adam Zinser, Anthony Alridge, Brandon Marshall, Daniel Graham, Dewayne Robertson, Domonique Foxworth, Eddie Royal, Gray Caldwell, Jamie Winborn, Jarvis Moss, Jay Cutler, Kenny Peterson, Kory Lichtensteiger, Marcus Thomas, Michael Pittman, Nate Webster, P.J. Alexander, Preseason, Selvin Young, Tim Crowder, Training Camp, Uncategorized, Wale Dada