The 2012 Broncos rookie class isn’t the only group enjoying its first NFL offseason together as a unit this year.
John Fox and his coaching staff didn’t have a typical NFL offseason a year ago due to the lockout.
This year, they’ve enjoyed the opportunity to work with the players both on and off the field.
“This is way different from a year ago when we went out on the field and practiced basically for the first time just before we were going to go out there for real,” Secondary Coach Ron Milus said. “So this time, this year, having the opportunity to work with these guys prior to training camp has been a big, big help.”
In 2011, the coaches and players weren’t able to work together until the beginning of training camp in late July.
That was especially difficult on the Broncos since the new coaching staff had a brand new playbook to install. In a typical offseason, teams like Denver that had hired a new head coach would have been given extra OTA sessions. Instead, the Broncos had to teach their entire new system during the grind of training camp.
“This year has been great,” Linebackers Coach Richard Smith said. “Last year we didn’t have any of the OTAs to be able to teach our players our new system. We had to go right into training camp with it.
Right now I think we’re much further along as a football team. Right now, starting the season we’re going to be way ahead of where we were a year ago at this time.”
Without having to introduce a brand new system to the team, coaches have been able to use OTAs and minicamps to work on smaller details of the game that had to be taught at the same time as the playbook during training camp.
During the 2011 training camp, Fox had nameplates taped to players’ helmets as the entire team got to know one another for the first time.
With a full offseason under their belts, players and coaches can focus on learning the playbook and perfecting their on-field skills rather than trying to remember their teammates’ names.
“It was good to have the players here to be able to go on the field and work with some fundamentals,” Wide Receivers Coach Tyke Tolbert said. “Last year we were doing all that in training camp, trying to get to know our players, how they run routes and all that stuff. It’s a whole lot different this year.
We’re able to work with them hands-on. We’re able to work some footwork drills, some ball drills. We didn’t get a chance to do that last year.
“This offseason has been very helpful and very beneficial for us.”