For the third straight day, the Broncos ran onto the practice fields at Dove Valley wearing full pads. And for the third straight day, the team had a fast, physical, productive practice.
Without further ado, let’s get to Monday morning’s practice recap.
Safety Quinton Carter (knee) and tackle Orlando Franklin (concussion) did not participate in Monday’s practice. Defensive tackle Justin Bannan (calf) was on the field for the session, but was just observing in shorts and his jersey. Cornerback Joshua Moore left practice with a right hamstring injury. Cornerback Omar Bolden got “dinged,” Head Coach John Fox said, and the team will evaluate him.
Defensive end Jamie Blatnick (ankle) practiced for the first time during camp.
Chris Kuper continued taking more and more reps with the first-unit offensive line. For the majority of practice, he was in at right guard.
- Wide receiver Brandon Stokley got his day started off right. During individual drills — even before the stretch period — he made a nice grab that warranted a high-five from Demaryius Thomas and a cheer from the crowd. But that was hardly his only highlight.
During one-on-ones between receivers and cornerbacks, quarterback Peyton Manning found Stokley for two quick catches. When the offense switched to 7-on-7s, Manning found Stokley two more times back-to-back, including a diving catch on the sideline that garnered more cheers. His other notable catch of the day came during team drills. Manning dropped back and was immediately under pressure as the defense came with a blitz. The veteran quarterback got the ball away, sending it directly into Stokley’s arms in the end zone for a touchdown — much to the delight of the crowd, and the rest of the offense.
- While the receivers and cornerbacks worked one-on-one, the rest of the offense and defense focused on running plays at the other end of the field. The defense dominated the drill, never allowing a run of more than a few yards and occasionally laying big hits on the running backs in the backfield. Defensive end Jason Hunter was especially fired up throughout the drill, which brought on a bit of pushing between the offensive and defensive lines after one rep.
- The defense continued to shine during team drills, as defensive end Jeremy Beal sniffed out an end-around to wide receiver Andre Caldwell in the backfield. Later in practice, cornerback Tracy Porter did the same, bringing down wide receiver Eric Decker in the backfield on another end-around.
- Wide receiver Tyler Grisham had a nice practice — starting during the first team drill, when quarterback Brock Osweiler evaded pressure in the pocket and fired a completion to the second-year receiver out of Clemson. Later, during one-on-ones, Grisham had arguably the catch of the day on a ball thrown by quarterback Adam Weber. He reeled it in over his shoulder as he slid down into the end zone.
- On Manning’s second throw of one-on-ones between WRs and CBs, he pump faked to Decker, who ran a double-move and found himself streaking toward the end zone. Manning let the pass fly — but it fell through Decker’s hands at about the 5-yard line. The receiver was visibly angry at himself, but quickly made up for the error. During team drills, Manning dropped back and fired a deep pass down the middle of the field toward Decker. The third-year receiver hauled it in between Porter and safety Rahim Moore for a huge gain, drawing the loudest cheers of the day from the crowd.
- Right after Manning’s long completion to Decker, he looked for running back Lance Ball out of the backfield. Ball was tightly covered, and Manning nearly laid the ball perfectly into his hands on the sideline, but Moore lowered his shoulder for one of the biggest hits of the day to ensure an incompletion. After the play, Moore helped Ball off the ground and both players jogged back to the huddle.
- Cornerback Syd’Quan Thompson stood out for a couple of pass breakups, one on a big hit during one-on-ones, and another during 7-on-7s, when he batted away a pass that brought on praise from Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio.
- During team drills, running back Willis McGahee snuck out of the backfield and Manning found him wide open for a touchdown.
- Quarterback Brock Osweiler found Caldwell for back-to-back completions during team drills, one of which went for a touchdown. The rookie showed his appreciation by running to meet the receiver on his way back to the huddle, giving him a slap on the rear end.
- During the last team drill session of the day, rookie running back Ronnie Hillman made a few nice moves to find a hole in the defense and burst through it. The offensive sideline roared its approval.
- Several players worked with Assistant Special Teams Coach Keith Burns on downing punts inside the 10-yard line. First, Burns threw a football high in the air, and two players would make sure it was corralled inside the 10. Next, he rolled a soccer ball from the 5-yard line, and players had to sprint and tap the ball back away from the end zone before a touchback was called. Later in practice, he bounced the soccer ball at the 1-yard line, and one player’s job was to leap and tip it away from the end zone while another caught it inside the 5.
- During one-on-ones between the defensive and offensive lines, several players stood out. The first was defensive end Robert Ayers, who made a quick inside move on tackle Chris Clark to get to the quarterback. Next was tackle Ryan Harris, who stood his ground and prevented linebacker Von Miller from getting into the backfield. Rookie defensive end Malik Jackson had a nice drill, getting into the backfield on three consecutive reps.
- One of the more entertaining, back-and-forth exchanges of the drill came in the matchup between defensive end Cyril Obiozor and tackle Adam Grant. On the first attempt, Grant kept Obiozor in check, but the coaches asked for a redo. On the second attempt, Obiozor won handily, putting both hands on the “quarterback” for a sack. Right away, the two lined up for a third attempt, and this time Grant gave Obiozor a hard shove at the point of impact, knocking the end back and giving the win to the offensive line.
- During the same drill, rookie center/guard Philip Blake matched up against defensive tackle Mitch Unrein. On the first matchup, Unrein bull-rushed past Blake into the backfield. After the play, Offensive Line Coach Dave Magazu walked up to Blake for a quick chat, presumably giving him pointers. Immediately the two players lined up again, and on the second rep Blake held his ground, drawing praise from Magazu.
- Thompson, Porter, Drayton Florence and Tony Carter all took reps fielding punts.
- Manning displayed his attention to detail during team drills, when he hit running back Knowshon Moreno out of the backfield for a nice gain. After the play, he walked back to the sideline and seemed upset with how the play unfolded. Even on a positive gain, the quarterback wanted it better.
- In one end zone, there is a VIP tent for guests of players and staff members. Hanging on the side of the tent on Monday was a play clock, and the quarterbacks kept an eye on it throughout team drills heading in that direction.
The team is back on the field for a closed walkthrough session Monday evening, then players have Tuesday off from practice. Things kick back up again Wednesday with an afternoon practice starting at 2:20 p.m. MDT. The session is free and open to the public, and gates open an hour prior.
Click below for the photo gallery from Monday’s practice.