For the first time since Thursday’s 31-3, preseason-opening win in Chicago, the Broncos were back on on the fields at Dove Valley for another training camp practice. Here are notes from the session, which featured plenty of defensive highlights.
First, today’s trivia question. Early in the first team session of practice, cornerback Champ Bailey broke up a Peyton Manning pass — or so it seemed. The intended receiver tracked the ball in the air and came away with the deflection, appearing to get both feet in bounds right at the sideline. Who was the receiver?
Leave your answers in the comments section of the blog, and the answer — and winner — will be revealed at 6 p.m. MDT.
Safety Jim Leonhard (knee), safety Quinton Carter (hamstring and knee), wide receiver Tyler Grisham (knee), Danny Trevathan (ankle), fullback Chris Gronkowski (groin), defensive tackle Justin Bannan (calf) and tackle Ryan Harris (ankle) did not participate in Saturday’s practice. Cornerback Tracy Porter was held out of part of practice due to a hamstring injury.
In addition, Head Coach John Fox said linebacker D.J. Williams was excused from practice due to a personal reason.
Linebacker Keith Brooking was able to participate in practice wearing full pads for the first time since signing with the team. He took the majority of his reps with the second-unit defense.
- During the first team drill of practice, linebacker Wesley Woodyard was active. First, he broke up a pass from Manning, and a few plays later, did one better, picking off the QB.
- Running back Ronnie Hillman, who didn’t play in Thursday’s preseason opener due to a hamstring injury, found plenty of space down the sideline during team drills. Quarterback Brock Osweiler rolled to his right and dumped off a pass to his fellow rookie, and Hillman raced up the field for a big gain.
- Wide receiver Gerell Robinson made a couple of notable plays during practice, first leaping for a deep connection from quarterback Adam Weber. Later during red-zone work with quarterback Caleb Hanie, he caught a diving touchdown at the front of the end zone.
- During 9-on-7 drills, defensive tackle Ty Warren stuffed a run at the line of scrimmage, drawing praise from the defensive sideline. Later in the drill, running back Xavier Omon busted a run up the middle, breaking several tackles and garnering cheers from the crowd in the process.
- In the second set of team drills, Manning’s first pass was to a wide open Joel Dreessen up the middle of the field for a big gain.
- Safety Rahim Moore made one of the best breakups of the morning, slapping the ball out of wide receiver Matthew Willis’ hands at the last second on a pass that would’ve netted a big gain for the offense.
- Moore’s competition for best pass breakup came via safety Rafael Bush, and later cornerback Tony Carter. On a pass aimed at wide receiver Brandon Stokley on the sideline, Bush gave a full-out dive to force an incompletion, and Assistant Secondary Coach Sam Garnes ran onto the field to congratulate him with a big helmet slap. As for Carter, he leaped to swat the ball away at its highest point after Hanie was about to connect with wide receiver Andre Caldwell on a deep bomb to the end zone.
- Caldwell was active during team drills, hauling in a sideline catch and then running the ball on an end-around on the very next play.
- The defense had a big day at practice, generating a good amount of pressure throughout the session. Both Mitch Unrein and Jason Hunter nearly had “sacks,” (keep in mind, quarterbacks are off limits), and linebacker Von Miller chased Manning out of the backfield on another play, forcing the four-time NFL MVP to throw the ball away.
- Early in practice, the defensive line ran through a drill where one lineman acted as a running back and the other’s job was to make the tackle. Throughout, the linemen seemed to enjoy playing on offense just as much as making the big hit. Defensive tackle Sealver Siliga juked out defensive end Jason Hunter pretty badly, which inspired the rest of the group. Defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson was next up with the football, throwing in a few stutter steps and yelling out “Mike Vick!”
- During the last team period of practice, Manning didn’t participate with the first-team offense, instead watching from the sideline. Fox said it was a “special period” that was “more of a service to the defense.” Manning stayed involved, however, shouting toward the huddle, “Full speed, offense! Let’s go!”
- Broncos alumni continue to head out to Dove Valley during training camp. Watching Saturday’s practice was former Broncos player-coach Jimmy Spencer. A cornerback in Denver from 2000-03, Spencer pulled double-duty in his final season in Denver, also handling assistant defensive backs coach duties.
Nicknamed “Teach,” Spencer was Denver’s defensive backs coach one his playing days were over in 2004, and also served as assistant defensive backs coach again in 2005 and 2006.
- On a running play, it was Willis who drew the most praise, as Wide Receivers Coach Tyke Tolbert shouted “Atta way, Willis!” when the receiver made a key block.
- During team drills, the offense looked to cross up the defense on a handful of plays, calling two direct snaps and one flea flicker.
The Broncos are back on the field this evening for a walkthrough open only to media, then have a day off on Sunday. But the squad hits the practice fields at Dove Valley again Monday morning for a practice session free and open to the public. UPDATE: It is scheduled to begin at 10:35 a.m., and gates open an hour prior.
Click below for a photo gallery from Saturday’s practice.
Tags: Training Camp 2012