It’s always fun to get back in the press box at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. It’s the first time since last season’s thrilling overtime playoff victory against the Steelers, and even though it’s in the middle of training camp, it still feels like a game day.
More than 30,000 fans have entered the turnstiles at Sports Authority Field at Mile High for Saturday’s Summer Scrimmage — already an attendance record for any training camp practice — and practice hasn’t kicked off yet. Fans are still streaming into the lower bowl. In fact, many were running to pick prime seats — it’s certainly an exciting atmosphere. Music is pumping and there are loud cheers as players continue making their way onto the field.
This blog will be updated throughout the practice — the only place you can find a live account of the session as it’s happening. We’ll try to make it seem like you’re in the stands even if you couldn’t make it out for this evening.
3:55 p.m. MDT: The quarterbacks are running onto the field, led by Peyton Manning, who receives a standing ovation from the crowd.
4:06 p.m. MDT: The entire Broncos squad is now on the field, which brought another standing ovation. The stretching portion of practice has started, and the Summer Scrimmage is now underway.
4:15 p.m. MDT: Just before today’s practice started, the Broncos signed veteran safety Jim Leonhard. More on the signing here.
4:17 p.m. MDT: As the team runs through individual drills, the lower bowl of the stadium is virtually full. Now large sections of the club level are filling up. Great turnout — record turnout — for the scrimmage. We’ll have the official number later this evening.
4:26 p.m. MDT: Britton Colquitt is booming punts during special teams drills, and the offensive and defensive lines just walked out through the tunnel to a loud ovation. They’re stretching with Strength and Conditioning Coach Luke Richesson in the end zone, getting ready for the full-team scrimmage session.
4:28 p.m. MDT: Chants of “Ed-die! Ed-die! Ed-die!” as former Broncos wide receiver Ed McCaffrey is shown on the giant Thundervision screen walking onto the field to watch practice. Another former Broncos receiver, Rod Smith, is here as well, currently talking to cornerback Champ Bailey on the sideline.
4:36 p.m. MDT: Seven-on-seven drills now. Manning just hit Andre Caldwell deep down the sideline for a long gain and a loud cheer. In this particular drill, however, the defense is laying off and letting the offense make the connection.
4:48 p.m. MDT: The first full-team drill of the practice has started — and the first play is a fake handoff to Willis McGahee and a deep bomb from Manning to Demaryius Thomas — but the pass falls incomplete. It’s the first time all training camp that the defense has tackled to the ground, and the second play of the drill is a run by McGahee — he’s tackled after four yards. On third down, Von Miller races into the backfield for the “sack” — though obviously the second-year linebacker didn’t tackle Manning. Even in a live scrimmage, the quarterbacks are off limits.
4:50 p.m. MDT: Manning’s first completion of the team drill goes to tight end Jacob Tamme for a 5-yard gain. On the very next play, cornerback Tony Carter tipped Manning’s pass near the sideline and safety David Bruton came down with the interception. The offense kept the ball to continue the drill, and the next play is a run to McGahee again — this time he finds the sideline and finishes his run with a hard stiff-arm on cornerback Drayton Florence, which drew “Oooohs” from the crowd. The next play saw Manning hit a diving Brandon Stokley for a completion as defensive tackle Mitch Unrein was bullying his way into the backfield.
4:54 p.m. MDT: The 10th play of the drill for Manning was another play-action pass, this one a completion to Thomas just shy of the defense’s 20-yard line. McGahee followed that up with a powerful run — he kept his legs moving all the way to the 12-yard line for another first down.
4:55 p.m. MDT: Defensive end Robert Ayers put pressure on Manning to force an incompletion out of the back of the end zone on the next play. Lance Ball took a run inside the 10-yard line on second down, and on third down, Manning made a number of checks at the line before taking the snap, which got the crowd fired up. The quarterback took the snap and threw a back-shoulder pass to Eric Decker in the front corner of the end zone to finish the drive with a touchdown. Matt Prater’s extra point was good and the blue team took a 7-0 lead over the white team. Next up is the second-team offense against the first-team defense.
4:58 p.m. MDT: Quarterback Caleb Hanie is next up in the scrimmage. His first pass fell incomplete, and second down brought a 3-yard run by Jeremiah Johnson. On third-and-7, Hanie was sacked by defensive end Elvis Dumervil with rookie Derek Wolfe right there. The two shared a high five as the offense started its drive over.
5 p.m. MDT: After a 4-yard run on a handoff on first down, Hanie hit Matthew Willis on the sideline. The receiver spun out of a tackle to move the chains. On the ensuing first down, safety Mike Adams led a swarm of Broncos to stop a run for a 2-yard loss. On second-and-12, Wolfe recognized a screen pass and stopped his pass rush short, dropping back to make sure Hanie had no one to dump the ball off to. On third down, the defense is firing the crowd up — and the crowd is obliging. The second-team offense breaks the huddle, and Hanie hands off to Johnson on a draw play. The speedy back nearly picks up the first down, but he doesn’t quite get to the sticks. Now Adam Weber is in at quarterback.
5:07 p.m. MDT: A 9-yard scramble by Weber set up a third-and-1, and it looked like a handoff to Johnson would net the first down. He found room toward the sideline, but linebacker Wesley Woodyard grabbed him and threw him to the ground short of the first down. Weber and the offense started its drive over, and on first down, Unrein barreled into the backfield to force Weber to throw it away. That was the last play for the first-team defense. Now it’s announced that it’s Weber and the third-team offense against the third-team defense.
5:11 p.m. MDT: The final attendance number for today’s summer scrimmage: a record 41,304 fans. That means nearly 70,000 people have watched a 2012 Broncos training camp practice, shattering the previous total for an entire camp — and this year’s camp doesn’t close until Aug. 17.
5:16 p.m. MDT: Rookie defensive tackle Malik Jackson claims a sack on fellow rookie Brock Osweiler to start a drive. It’s a 6-yard loss for the offense. A quick, 2-yard completion followed by two straight incompletions bring Saturday’s Summer Scrimmage to a close. The fans at the stadium are currently doing The Wave as Head Coach John Fox gathers the team on the field. That’ll do it for today’s live blog — we’ll have more coverage from the scrimmage this evening, including a photo gallery of the action.