The last open practice of passing camp took place on Monday, and the team was in high spirits. The weather was great — sunny, but with enough breeze that it wasn’t too hot — and the energy on the field was contagious. Head Coach Josh McDaniels even bantered back and forth with some of the media as practice was starting, commenting on the bright color of one reporter’s jacket.
Without further adieu, here are some notes from Monday’s practice session.
OFFENSIVE IN THE RED ZONE
Early in practice, the offense and defense lined up for one play in the red zone. As the units got set at the line of scrimmage, Kyle Orton barked out a few commands and tried to get the defense to show its hand. After a particularly loud shout, Robert Ayers jumped slightly forward, letting Orton know he intended to blitz. He alerted the offensive line, took the snap and lofted a pass to the back corner of the end zone where Brandon Stokley snatched the ball just in front of Jack Williams.
Later in practice it was the offense that shined again in the red zone. McDaniels announced the situation — ball on the two-yard line, both teams are out of timeouts and the offense needs to score. It’s one play to decide the game, and Chris Simms was at the helm. Simms took the snap, backpedaled, avoided some pressure and fired a pass to Jabar Gaffney, who made quite a catch in the corner of the end zone even though Champ Bailey seemed to have him blanketed.
Stokley seemed to have a pretty solid practice. He caught pass after pass after pass, often drawing groans from the defense who thought they had the play covered.
Just after warm-ups, Simms worked with running backs on catching the ball out of the backfield while Orton stepped aside to work on mechanics with McDaniels. The coach said earlier that he’s been working with each signal caller on alternating days.
Speaking of quarterbacks, each one practiced poise in the pocket with offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike McCoy simulating pressure by knocking them with blocking pads and forcing them to scramble before firing the pass.
Running backs and tight ends often went in motion out wide as receivers, something that seems to be prevalent in this offense, judging solely from the practices that have been open to the media.
During a hurry-up drill, Orton noticed the defense was taking a little long to substitute two players so he hurried the offense to the line and took the snap while too many defenders were on the field, drawing a penalty and subsequent first down.
At the end of each practice, the team runs sprints from one end of the field to another — the width of it, not the 100-yard length. It’s certainly not a race, but it’s obvious which players are having a little competition to see who can finish first. Two players won their shift of sprints every time — Joshua Bell and Simms.
After the sprints, the defensive line set up for one more drill — practicing knocking down balls at the line of scrimmage. Coaches aimed the JUGS machine high, launched the ball and the linemen jumped to swat away the “passes.”
Now, here are some pictures.
For more pictures, check out the photo gallery from Monday’s practice.
-Gray Caldwell, DenverBroncos.com
Tags: Brandon Stokley, Chris Simms, Jabar Gaffney, Joshua Bell, Kyle Orton, Passing Camp