It’s called the offseason. After all, the Broncos aren’t holding practices or playing games on Sundays.
But as Daniel Graham said last Friday at a community event, “What offseason?”
With the offseason conditioning program set to kickoff Monday, March 16 at Dove Valley, a number of guys are already back in town to get ready. Sure, many of them enjoyed traveling around the country and relaxing, but even then, most of them have been working out to stay in shape so that they can hit the ground running once the team reconvenes.
This morning, there were several players in the locker room and training room at Dove Valley. Boss Bailey, Peyton Hillis, Kory Lichtensteiger, Tyler Polumbus, Carlton Powell and Ryan Torain were all at the facility.
Bailey started six games for the Broncos in 2008 before a knee injury against the Patriots resulted in his being placed on injured reserve. Now he’s working his way back from the injury and trying to get back to 100 percent health.
Hillis also finished the season on injured reserve, but not before playing in 12 games, starting three at fullback and three at running back. He finished the season with 68 carries for 343 yards and five scores, earning Diet Pepsi Rookie of the Week and FedEx Ground Player of the Week honors during his rookie campaign.
“I’m really excited,” Hillis said. “My leg is healing up really good, and they think I should be 100 percent healthy here in about a month. I’m just really looking forward to the opportunity to see what the new coaches are all about, play for them and do the best I can.”
Lichtensteiger played in all 16 games with the bulk of his action on special teams, but he often lined up as an H-Back in the jumbo package on offense. With his rookie year under his belt, the Bowling Green State alum has been spending time with family and friends, and as he put it, “recharging the batteries.”
“You just kind of get football out of your mind for a little bit, and I think that’s pretty important,” Lichtensteiger said. “You shift gears, do whatever you want to do to relax.”
He has been back to Denver a couple times since season’s end, though he’s back for the first significant amount of time now.
“I’ve been up here a few times to check in with Dennison, talking with trainers and equipment guys,” he said. “I haven’t had a chance to talk with Coach McDaniels yet. I’ve been up there a few times, but he hasn’t been around. He has been busy, which is pretty understandable. I’m looking forward to getting back into the routine, but it’s going to be hard to give up the easy life of doing whatever you want. But I’ll be ready for it.”
Like his fellow rookie offensive lineman, Polumbus saw action in all 16 games in 2008, mostly on special teams. He has been around more often than his teammates however as he is a Denver native. He played his college ball at Colorado after playing for Cherry Creek High School.
He was able to use the offseason to get in some traveling, and most importantly, he took his wife on their honeymoon.
“We didn’t get a chance to do that since we got married right before camp last year, and that was nice,” Polumbus said. “We went down to Riviera Maya in Mexico, and it was awesome — really fun.”
Now that he has wrapped up his travels, Polumbus has been working out and is ready to get back to focusing on football.
“We had a nice little break, but I’m ready to get back with the guys and get into things. It’s always nice to be back with the guys in the locker room and having fun around here.”
Powell spent the entirety of the 2008 season on the reserve/physically unable to perform list after he suffered a torn achilles’ tendon before training camp even started last year.
He was always around Dove Valley throughout 2008, working out and trying to get back into shape, but he wasn’t able to contribue on the field. Now, however, he’s ready.
“I’ve just been preparing in the training room with Greek (Head Athletic Trainer Steve Antonopulos) every day,” Powell said. “I’m basically back to 100 percent now, and it feels great. I’m very anxious to get started. The conditioning program starts up Monday, so I want to see where I’m at.”
Powell has been around a lot in the offseason as well, and he has had a chance to visit with all his coaches, and in particular, he got to talk with defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and Head Coach Josh McDaniels.
“I’m definitely ready to get back with the team. We have a lot of new faces, but we’ve got to get together to make things happen.”
As for Torain, his rookie year got off to a rough start when he injured his arm during training camp, forcing him to miss the first seven games. He saw his first action against the Dolphins before earning the start against the Browns the following week. That game started out well for the rookie as he rushed 12 times for 68 yard and a score, but then he suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Like Powell, he has spent much of his time around Dove Valley, working to get back into shape before training camp and the 2009 season.
I can’t make any promises, since there’s no way to know who will be around or when exactly, but I’ll continue to bring updates throughout the week as players arrive for the offseason conditioning program. Once that starts, more players should be around.
– Adam Zinser, DenverBroncos.com