On Wednesday afternoon the Broncos conducted their final practice session before Friday’s preseason opener at San Francisco.
On a scorching day at Dove Valley — in which temperatures reached the mid-90s — the team left its pads in the locker room and conducted a two-hour session in shorts and shells.
At the conclusion of the hot session the team was able to rest up while enjoying some refreshing watermelon and cantaloupe — by no means a bad way to end the day.
Here are some more tidbits from Wednesday’s lone practice:
ROLL CALL: Daniel Graham, Eddie Royal, Casey Wiegmann and D.J. Williams all returned to practice after sitting out Thursday evening’s session. LaMont Jordan, who missed the past few days of practice, also returned for Wednesday afternoon’s session.
After practice, Head Coach Josh McDaniels announced that running back Ryan Torain has been waived by the club. “He was injured,” McDaniels said. “He was waived injured. There’s nothing more to it. It wasn’t about plans. It was a roster decision we made and we’re moving on.” Taking Torain’s place at practice was Marcus Thomas, a second-year running back out of the University of Texas-El Paso.
Brandon Marshall and Brian Dawkins did not participate.
POSITIONING: During a few points at practice, Matt Prater and Britton Colquitt took turns handling kickoff duties. Kenny McKinley, Alphonso Smith and Nate Swift all saw time back deep returning their kicks.
In the midst of 11-on-11s against the offensive scout team, the first team defense consisted of a front seven of Ronald Fields, Ryan McBean, Kenny Peterson, Andra Davis, D.J. Williams, Mario Haggan and Elvis Dumervil with Champ Bailey and Andre’ Goodman at the cornerback spots and Renaldo Hill and Darcel McBath manning the safety positions. Josh Barrett, Darrell Reid, Robert Ayers and Jack Williams were among the players that saw time with the first team.
During 7-on-7s, a number of the team’s running backs saw time with the first unit. Correll Buckhalter, Knowshon Moreno, Peyton Hillis and Darius Walker all spent time either in the backfield or lined up out wide as receiving threats.
DRILLS: At the onset of practice, a group of players practiced getting off a block and attempting to block punts by Colquitt. With McDaniels looking on, Hillis, Wesley Woodyard, Reid and Spencer Larsen participated in the drill, which was instructed by special teams coordinator Mike Priefer.
Smith and Eddie Royal continued to alternate punt return responsibilities during camp. Today, however, the two were on the field at the same time at one point during punt return drills. Adding a bit of a wrinkle to the return game, on a few occasions Smith caught punts and practiced lateraling the ball to Royal, who would curl behind the first-year cornerback and take over posession of the ball.
During a kickoff coverage drill, coaching assistant Keith Burns made sure his players knew what their responsibilities were. “Finish your blocks. Finish your blocks,” the coach repeated.
PLAYMAKERS: During the team’s first set of 7-on-7s, Chris Simms showed his accuracy, finding Jabar Gaffney, Jeb Putzier and McKinley for touchdowns.
A bit later during red zone 7-on-7s, the defense made a few plays of their own. First, D.J. Williams jumped a route and grabbed an interception, turning and sprinting back downfield. Later, Smith cut sharply in front of a Tom Brandstater pass, tallying an interception for his efforts.
After the defense clogged a run at the line of scrimmage during red zone 11-on-11s, defensive line coach Wayne Nunnely was impressed, exclaiming, “That’s right. Nowhere to run inside!”
Closely following a tipped ball as it made its decent, Wesley Woodyard grabbed an interception at the goal line.
With Champ Bailey tightly covering C.J. Jones in the back of the end zone, Tom Brandstater (still sporting his new hairdo) somehow found a way to get the ball to connect with his intended target.
QUICK HITS: In an effort to simulate crowd noise, music blasted at various times during 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s. Some of the songs during these drills included The Who’s, “We Won’t Get Fooled Again” (A Kyle Sonneman personal favorite) and Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.”
Just two days away from their preseason opener at San Francisco, the team once again spent time imitating a few 49ers. Defensive scout team members once again sported red penny jerseys of the likes of Frank Gore and Vernon Davis. A new addition today was Isaac Bruce, who the team also emulated.
With it evident that the afternoon practice was going to be a sizzler, just before the session began Reid politely asked one of the water boys to add more sugar into the team’s Gatorade mix. “We need more energy out here,” he said with a smile.
A number of rookies sported shaved heads today, apparently after receiving their “Welcome to the NFL” moment at some point on Tuesday. Knowshon Moreno and Lee Robinson were among the first-year players sporting the breezy looks.
DAILY JUKEBOX: A number of songs played during the afternoon session. While some of the artists played are becoming familiar at team headquarters, a few new artists also made their debut today.
T.I. featuring Rihanna – “Live Your Life”
Prince – “Cream”
Michael Jackson – “Dirty Diana”
The Police – “Message in a Bottle”
Jay-Z – “Can I Get A …”
“We’ve got a good test ahead of us. I think it’s a good opportunity, not only for us to see where we are, but for the fans to see how this new Broncos team is.”
-LaMont Jordan, on playing in San Francisco on Friday.
-Zach Eisendrath, DenverBroncos.com
More pictures from Wednesday’s practice are below:
Tags: Training Camp