Thursday morning’s practice was once again open to the public, and fans showed up in record number — the 5,034 in attendance set another Dove Valley record. It’s the third time an attendance record has been broken during this year’s training camp, and the fans in attendance certainly got a show.
Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas had two of the biggest highlights of the afternoon, which we’ll get to shortly.
First and foremost, we’ve got a new feature in the blogs, and it comes with a prize. Today’s trivia question is this: During team drills, who tipped a Peyton Manning pass to himself for a one-handed grab while on the run? The answer will be revealed in the comments section of the blog at 6 p.m. MDT. In the event of a tie, the winner will be selected at random from the correct responses.
Yesterday, Head Coach John Fox reported that wide receiver Eric Decker had a groin strain. On Thursday, Decker was back on the field in full pads.
Missing from practice were safety Quinton Carter (hamstring and knee) and wide receivers D’Andre Goodwin (foot) and Greg Orton (ankle). Wide receiver Tyler Grisham (knee), running back Ronnie Hillman (hamstring) and tackle Orlando Franklin (concussion) were all on the practice field wearing shorts, but did not participate.
Newly signed wide receiver Cameron Kenney, wearing No. 19, participated in his first practice.
- There were plenty of playmakers during Thursday’s session, but we’ll start with Thomas. In the first team drill of the morning, Thomas caught a Manning pass on the sideline while on his knees. The very next play was another connection from Manning to Thomas on the sideline. This time, Thomas was on his feet, and he quickly used them to juke a defender and then stiff-arm another to the ground en route to what would have been a long touchdown.
- In the next team drill, Manning and Thomas were at it again. After taking the snap, Manning dropped back and fired a pass deep down the middle of the field for Thomas. Safety Rahim Moore was right there in coverage and cornerback Drayton Florence was closing fast, but Thomas leaped up and over Moore to bring down the ball, running the rest of the way for the score. When he got to the back of the end zone, Thomas high-fived a group of young fans. On his way back to the sideline, he was met by cornerback Champ Bailey for another five, and Manning congratulated the receiver with a helmet tap on the sideline.
- Running back Willis McGahee had a couple highlight plays as well, the first of which was a solid run to his right off a pitch. The second came on a screen pass. The veteran back grabbed the ball and took off downfield behind some key blocks from the offensive line for a big gain.
- Defensive end Elvis Dumervil had a “sack” on Manning during team drills, but the play was allowed to continue and Manning still let a pass fly toward Thomas, but Bailey was in tight coverage and forced the incompletion.
- Quarterback Adam Weber made his reps count on Thursday, first lofting a deep pass through coverage into the waiting hands of wide receiver Gerell Robinson for a big gain. At the very end of practice during a red-zone drill, Weber found a leaping Joel Dreessen in the back corner of the end zone for a touchdown that drew cheers from both the crowd and the offense.
- In the same red-zone drill, Manning found another tight end, Jacob Tamme, for a touchdown.
- Running back Xavier Omon had a highlight of his own early in team drills, running through two tackles and spinning out of another for a long gain that got the crowd riled up.
- Wide receiver Jason Hill caught a laser pass from quarterback Brock Osweiler in team drills, quickly reaching above his head while on the run.
PEYTON THE PRANKSTER
In between drills, Manning grabbed two water bottles to bring to the crowd. Little did the fans know, he loosened up the cap on one of them.
So he threw one bottle to a young fan and demonstrated that he should tilt his head all the way back and take a sip. He did, the crowd cheered, and the fan threw the bottle back. Then Peyton handed the rigged bottle to another young fan — and he got doused.
Andrew, 11, laughed right away.
“That was fun,” he smiled. “It was refreshing.”
“I’ll remember that until I’m 78.”
- Referees watched Thursday’s morning session, signaling when players scored touchdowns and even throwing an occasional flag.
- During special teams drills, cornerback Chris Harris sprinted downfield and leaped in the air to bat a ball away from the end zone and avoid a touchback. When it was cornerback Joshua Moore’s turn, the ball bounced into the end zone, leading Assistant Special Teams Coach Keith Burns to remind him, “You’ve gotta get there first, then look for the ball.”
- Defensive end Jason Hunter got reps with the first-unit D-line for the second straight practice. Defensive tackle Justin Bannan was also back with the ones, alongside fellow defensive tackle Ty Warren.
- As a whole, the offensive line seemed to win Thursday’s one-on-one session against the defensive line, but defensive end Ben Garland still managed a big highlight for the D. He bullied his way past rookie guard/center Philip Blake into the backfield, drawing praise from his defensive teammates.
The team is back on the field for a walkthrough session open only to media this evening. The next practice free and open to the public is scheduled for Friday afternoon at 2:20 p.m. MDT. Gates open an hour prior.
Click below for today’s photo gallery.
Tags: Training Camp 2012