On October 31, the Broncos travel across the Atlantic Ocean to take on the San Francisco 49ers in London. During today’s final minicamp practice, they got a taste of what the weather may be like in six months.
Much like yesterday, temperatures were in the 40s with a steady rain falling throughout the session. Dicky Lyons readied himself for the weather by wearing long sleeves, gloves and a hand warmer.
The last practice of mandatory minicamp was all about situational football, forcing the players to react to specific scenarios they might see in the games. Why practice under the shelter of a practice bubble when you’ll have to play games in the rain?
Mario Haggan saw the weather and joked, “is this situational football, too, coach?” Head Coach Josh McDaniels told him he was right.
Position coaches put each group of players through drills meant to test the team’s ability to play through the muck. The wide receivers practiced changing direction by cutting hard on the wet surface to practice breaking off routes in the end zone. Each player was encouraged to “sell it” on every cut.
The offensive linemen were more mobile than usual in their position drills, honing their agility by pulling and sprinting on the slippery surface.
Running backs, wide receivers, linebackers and safeties went through a special teams exercise where one offensive player received a ball while two defensive players sprinted right at them, making sharp cuts and corraling the returners.
In team drills McDaniels put the club through situations with varying downs and distances all over the field. For example he would call out that a play is 3rd-and-1, 3rd-and-11, 1st-and-goal at the 8-yard-line or 2nd-and-15. The coach let all three quarterbacks run the offense in two minute drills with the team backed up against its own goal line and red zone scenarios with little clock left.
At the end of practice McDaniels enlisted every player on the sideline to simulate crowd noise for Matt Prater field goals. The coach then took a time out to ice the kicker before his first attempt. Prater missed the first field goal, but rebounded by drilling the second and earning the cheers of the raucous crowd.
The quarterbacks frequently targeted their tight ends for short passes in the nasty weather. Richard Quinn caught a pass from Kyle Orton early on. Riar Geer leapt over two defensive backs for a touchdown from Tim Tebow in the final play of team drills. Daniel Graham exploited one-on-one matchups with linebackers all practice, catching balls in front of Haggan and D.J. Williams.
Andre’ Goodman caught the only interception of the day off a tipped pass that fell into his hands after bouncing off of several players.
Eddie Royal snared a touchdown grab from Orton after bobbling the ball and tip-toeing both feet in bounds. The defense was skeptical but Chris Kuper ruled it a touchdown. Royal also caught a two-point conversion later in practice to add on to Matthew Willis’ score. Afterward Willis carried Royal off the field in celebration. Royal later took advantage of a defensive call for a wide-open catch down the right sideline. Don “Wink” Martindale told his players the offense had “the perfect call” for that play.
Justin Bannan jabbed his hand in the air in front of a couple passes, deflecting the balls before they could cross the line of scrimmage.
Perrish Cox rotated in with the first team cornerbacks and denied Jabar Gaffney of a catch on one play. Cox fielded a kickoff and burst through the seam with a confident cut, and returned all but one punt during practice.
Robert Ayers participated in practice today, but Jarvis Moss and rookie Kevin Alexander still worked with the first team defense at outside linebacker.
The coaching staff gave Willis a long look at wide receiver. The young UCLA product lined up on the outside opposite Gaffney with Royal in the slot on a number of plays, earning targets on deep passes and grabbing a designed receiver screen.
Prater practiced an onsides kick to the left side of the field in the middle of team drills. He had both Britton Colquitt and A.J. Trapasso hold the ball for him on field goals.
Nate Jones worked in with the first-team defense as the nickel back when the defense called for extra pass coverage.
One of Tim Tebow’s reps in the first set of 11-on-11 drills was a designed quarterback draw up the center of the defense.
Below are photos from Sunday’s practice:
-Gabe Hiatt, DenverBroncos.com
Tags: Brady Quinn, Bruce Hall, Correll Buckhalter, Demaryius Thomas, Dicky Lyons, Head Coach Josh McDaniels, Knowshon Moreno, Kyle Orton, Mario Haggan, Rich Tuten