June 11th, 2010 - 12:01pm by Gray Caldwell
The final Broncos camp until training camp got underway on Friday under overcast skies and cooler temperatures. As the session wore on, more and more playmakers entered the fray in an action-packed practice.
In the first 7-on-7 drill of the day, Kyle Orton stepped up under center for the first reps, followed by Tim Tebow and then Brady Quinn. That same rotation held true during a 7-on-7 red zone drill later in practice, but during several 11-on-11 drills, the order was Orton, Quinn then Tebow.
A few new defenders saw repetitions with the first unit defense on Friday. Jarvis Moss and college free agent Kevin Alexander lined up at the outside linebacker spots with D.J. Williams and Mario Haggan inside, and Perrish Cox occasionally lined up outside at cornerback opposite Andre’ Goodman or Champ Bailey during certain drills.
The rest of the defensive lineup featured Justin Bannan, Jamal Williams and Ryan McBean on the line and Brian Dawkins and Renaldo Hill at safety.
During 7-on-7s, the first offensive group included Jabar Gaffney, Demaryius Thomas and Eddie Royal at receiver, Daniel Graham at tight end, Knowshon Moreno at running back and Orton at quarterback.
The first unit offensive line featured Tyler Polumbus at left tackle, Zane Beadles at left guard, J.D. Walton at center, Chris Kuper at right guard and Ryan Harris at right tackle. During the team’s final two-minute drill at the end of practice, D’Anthony Batiste took over at right tackle while the rest of the first-unit line remained intact.
Kenny McKinley, Royal and Cox were the three returners during a punt drill.
Fresh out of the gate it looked like the defense was in for another big day at practice. On Quinn’s first pass in 11-on-11s, he launched the ball downfield for McKinley. The pass sailed just past the receiver’s outstretched arms, however, and Alphonso Smith was there to haul in an over-the-shoulder interception.
When Tebow stepped under center, his first pass was picked off by Darcel McBath. “That’s two today!” shouted defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale. But the offense got back on track, and the next play was a quick screen pass from Tebow to Moreno for a big gain.
Orton’s second pass of 7-on-7s was a completion to a diving Matthew Willis, which drew cheers from the offense and coaching staff. When Quinn stepped under center, he fired what amounted to a jump ball to Thomas, who went up and got it over Tony Carter. On the next play, he found Moreno for a completion out of the backfield, and the running back put a move on Alexander in open space that left the rookie linebacker lying on the ground.
Later in the drill, Orton floated a pass over Bailey to Gaffney, who sprinted the rest of the way for a touchdown. The veteran cornerback had his revenge two plays later, however, picking off a pass from Tebow.
In 7-on-7 drills in the red zone, Orton stepped under center first and immediately found a wide-open Moreno for a touchdown. As the defense talked about what went wrong, Moreno handed the ball to Executive Director of Media Relations Patrick Smyth, who was watching along with the media on the sideline, and the running back and Gaffney proceeded to perform an elaborate celebration.
Running backs out of the backfield were a popular target on Friday, as Quinn lofted a pass over three defenders to Correll Buckhalter for what appeared to be a touchdown. The defense claimed Buckhalter was bobbling the pass as he ran out of bounds, and Martindale took it upon himself to call the pass incomplete.
On one play in the red zone, Orton found McKinley for a quick completion. After the play was over, Head Coach Josh McDaniels motioned for Orton to be “a little more patient” and wait for a certain route that was about to come open in the end zone. On the following play, Orton was flushed out of the pocket and rolled to his right. Meanwhile, Willis saw the play unfolding, broke off his route and sprinted to his right in the back of the end zone. Orton found the receiver for a touchdown, much to the delight of the rest of the offense.
In the same red-zone drill, Tebow couldn’t find an open receiver so he took off running downfield for a touchdown. The defense razzed him a little from the sideline for not throwing the ball, but McDaniels said the play was allowed to continue.
After Thomas leaped to haul in a back-shoulder pass from Orton in front of Goodman, Martindale instructed the defense to keep an eye on him. “We’ve got to cover their new toy,” he said of the 6-foot-3 rookie, prompting a smile from McDaniels. “Cover that tight end wearing 88.”
On the last play of 7-on-7s, Quinn nearly found Moreno out of the backfield for yet another touchdown, but Dawkins dove, and with his arms fully extended he broke up the pass. Needless to say, the incompletion brought plenty of cheers from the defensive sideline.
Eric Decker once again caught passes from strength and conditioning coach Rich Tuten off to the side for the first half of practice.
After the session, Thomas was talking with someone at midfield. It was hard to tell who at first, but it became clear — Rod Smith was back at Dove Valley, handing out a few pointers to the rookie wideout.
During 7-on-7s, Moss and Haggan did their best to distract Tebow. As the rookie quarterback scanned the field, both players continued to shout, “Hey Tebow! Hey Tebow! Hey Tebow!”
Practice closed with a two-minute drill led by Orton, which was capped off by a Matt Prater field goal.
When the team worked on punt returns, the coaches threw in a few fake punt formations to see if the return team would be ready. Doesn’t look like the team is in any hurry to have a repeat of the Washington game from last season.
The defensive line worked with coach Wayne Nunnely on reading and reacting to screen passes. The defensive line coach pointed to Jamal Williams as an example of how to do it — the 348-pound lineman returned an interception for a touchdown early in his career.
Below are photos from this morning’s practice courtesy of Kyle Sonneman.
-Gray Caldwell, DenverBroncos.com
Tags: Brady Quinn, Chris Kuper, Correll Buckhalter, Demaryius Thomas, Eddie Royal, Elvis Dumervil, Jabar Gaffney, Kyle Eckel, Kyle Orton, Tim Tebow