In terms of on-field action, Thursday’s morning practice that officially kicked off the 2012 training camp resembled the work the Broncos did during minicamp and OTA practices in June and July. But unlike the team’s last practice back in mid-June, this morning’s session was packed with fans and television crews who swarmed Dove Valley for the Broncos’ first official practice of the season.
“Our practices in the offseason are closed so it’s exciting,” Head Coach John Fox said. “It’s different. It’s kind of why you play the game.”
Many in the record-setting crowd packed the team’s Dove Valley practice facility for their first glimpse of quarterback Peyton Manning. And according to Fox, Manning was as impressive today as he was during the team’s minicamp and OTA practices.
“We’ve been doing this,” Fox said. “We took a month off but we’ve been doing this most of the offseason. I think (Manning) has done outstanding. He’ll continue to improve just like everybody else on our football team and that’s the secret to this thing.”
Manning arrived in Denver during the same offseason that saw former Broncos safety and future Hall-of-Famer Brian Dawkins retire. Fox did not downplay the impact of having such a veteran presence in the locker room.
“Part of learning a profession, or getting better, or mastering, or improving in a profession, is watching guys who have done it very well or done it great,” Fox said. “You put guys back there, (former S) Brian Dawkins was with us a year ago, (CB) Champ Bailey is still there, a guy like Peyton Manning, and what they’ve accomplished, whether it’s MVPs, great numbers of Pro Bowls, those are great examples to watch and learn and our players have done that.”
Fox also said that he was pleased with all the work his team was able to fit into its first practice of 2012, which started at 8:50 a.m. and concluded just before 11:30 a.m.
“It went very well,” Fox said. “The tempo was good. We operated on the play number more so than the time period and we’re about six minutes ahead of schedule. I think that’s the advantage of having the OTAs and the offseason program. Guys are a little bit more acclimated to the tempo and the scheme.”