Football filled the warm summer air at Dove Valley on Friday as the Broncos opened up their training facility to the fans as the team embarked on the 2008 season with the first day of training camp.
Practice got under way at 11:15 a.m. and the Broncos and the energy of both the fans and the players helped to ensure that training camp got off to a good start.
First-round draft choice Ryan Clady was introduced to the crowd and teammates, having officially agreed to his contract earlier in the morning, and the 325-pounder led the team’s breakdown during stretches.
When quarterback Jay Cutler was asked if he liked Clady’s breakdown he replied, “We’ll see him up there again.”
A young fan also got into the mix at the beginning of practice. Angel Esquibel was invited on to the field and passed the ball around with Louis Green as the linebacker stretched.
After stretching, the players broke into position drills.
Here are some observations:
Clady, Ben Hamilton, Tom Nalen, Chris Kuper and Ryan Harris were practicing as the first-team offensive line.
Brandon Marshall and Darrell Jackson began receiver drills as the No. 1 and No. 2 receivers on the first team, respectively.
The first-team linebacking corps was made up of Boss Bailey, Niko Koutouvides and D.J. Williams.
The first-team secondary was Champ Bailey, Dre’ Bly, John Lynch and Hamza Abdullah.
Selvin Young was taking reps as the first team running back and Sam Paulescu as the first team punter.
Bronco’s fans were happy to see the return of wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Marshall, who had been unable to catch with his right hand during OTAs due to an offseason arm injury, was cheered by the onlookers each time he made a grab. Fans could be heard yelling, “We love you Brandon!” when the 3rd year wideout made a catch along the sideline against Domonique Foxworth near where the contingent of fans was positioned. Marshall showed that his offseason injury shouldn’t hold him back this season. Cutler completed a pass to Marshall, a seven-yard hitch, in one-on-one receiver drills against Champ Bailey.
As practice further unfolded it was clear that this is no longer the offseason. Much to the surprise of many who figured Nate Webster would be the first to lose his helmet, guard Chris Kuper was the first to do so. Linebacker Jamie Winborn welcomed rookie Anthony Alridge to the NFL with a shot that lifted the 185-pound running back into the air and sent him careening toward the sideline. Alridge, however, was quick to pop up after the hit and continued downfield to finish out the play.
Rookie receiver Eddie Royal will learn quickly to always protect the football. As Royal was running down the sideline, Bly, who was positioned out of bounds, stripped the ball — a friendly veteran reminder to Royal to protect the ball at all times.
Bly himself got a reminder of sorts during practice. During 7-on-7 drills a fan yelled to Bly, “Remember Green Bay!” as he lined up at cornerback. Bly responded with “I do.”
Kicker Matt Prater showed some range during practice, connecting on multiple 50-yard field goals.
As practice came to a close it was apparent that Broncos fans liked what they saw. Numerous fans cheered as the team gathered to close out practice. One fan seemed to sum it up for them all.
“Super Bowl Bound, Baby!”
-Jake Grilley, DenverBroncos.com
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