A forecast of inclement weather forced the Broncos to cancel Wednesday’s public practice and move the session up a few hours.
The media-only practice ended just in time, as a torrential downpour began just as Head Coach John Fox blew his whistle to signal the end of the session.
But the Broncos were still able to get in a full, productive session at the new start time of 10:35 a.m. MDT. Without further ado, here is a recap of the practice.
Safety Quinton Carter (hamstring and knee), tackle Orlando Franklin (concussion) and cornerback Joshua Moore (hamstring) did not participate in practice. Fox said that during practice, wide receiver Eric Decker strained his groin, running back Ronnie Hillman injured his hamstring and wide receivers D’Andre Goodwin and Greg Orton suffered ankle injuries.
- One of the first drills of practice involved one linebacker acting as a ball carrier as another lined up him for a big hit. Assistant Secondary Coach Sam Garnes oversaw the drill and didn’t like what he saw in the first few reps. “I haven’t heard a pop yet!” he shouted. Then Von Miller ran through the drill and delivered a nice pad-popping hit, which drew a, “Yes sir, five-eight!” from Garnes.
- Wednesday brought with it a new drill that involved running backs working on blocking, attempting to keep linebackers away from the quarterback. Instead of another running back acting as the quarterback, Peyton Manning stood in the pocket to add an element of evasion to the drill. On a few occasions, Manning stepped up in the pocket to avoid any potential pressure and give the win to the running back, but one notable win for the defense came courtesy of Joe Mays, who got past Knowshon Moreno and put both hands in the air right in front of Manning’s face to signify the sack.
- During one-on-ones between offensive and defensive linemen, defensive end Jason Hunter had the standout rep, flattening tackle Adam Grant en route to the backfield. That drew some cheers of “Woo!” from his fellow D-linemen. On the offensive side, guard Chris Kuper impressed in his reps.
- The defense handled a 9-on-7 drill, which focuses solely on running plays, for the second straight day. On the first play, the defense — led by defensive tackle Justin Bannan — stuffed a play in the backfield, and Defensive Line Coach Jay Rodgers ran onto the field to give Bannan a slap on the rear end.
- On one of the running plays in the 9-on-7 drill, Hillman found a hole in the defense and bursted through it, only to get thrown to the ground by linebacker Wesley Woodyard.
- Manning’s chemistry with wide receiver Brandon Stokley continued to show itself on Wednesday, as the veteran ran a crisp route to get past cornerback Tracy Porter deep for a touchdown during one-on-ones.
- Running back Xavier Omon had a nice run during 9-on-7s, bursting into the secondary and laying a hit on new safety Anthony Perkins. Moreno met Omon on his way back to the sideline with a hard high five.
- During team drills, Manning faked a bubble screen on his left to Stokley, who leaped in the air to sell the pass, then fired back to his right toward Lance Ball. The running back reeled in the pass with one hand and then followed his blockers upfield for a nice gain.
- Two other standout plays from team drills included a nice run up the middle of the line by Mario Fannin, and a breakup by cornerback Champ Bailey, when he sprinted to swat a Manning pass out of the hands of wide receiver Andre Caldwell.
The second-to-last team session of practice was a two-minute drill — or more like a 1:10 drill. The offense started with 1:10 left on the clock at its own 40-yard line, down six points — 20-14.
Manning thrived in the situation, as he has his entire career. His first big play was a long strike down the field to Stokley. Manning stepped up in the pocket and hit the receiver in the chest at the opposing 34-yard line.
After running to the line, he hit wide receiver Demaryius Thomas down the left sideline for what looked like a 34-yard touchdown — but the coaches ruled the receiver out at the 2-yard line. So the offense ran up to the line again and Manning tried to loft a quick pass to Thomas in the back corner of the end zone, but Porter swatted it away with seven seconds left on the clock.
With the clock stopped, Manning called the play as he stepped up to the line. He dropped back and hit Stokley for the game-tying touchdown with three seconds left, drawing cheers from the offensive sideline.
Next up was quarterback Caleb Hanie. His drive started with a 6-yard sack courtesy of rookie defensive lineman Derek Wolfe, setting back the offense. Hanie quickly hit Moreno for a 10-yard gain on a screen, but the clock continued to run. A 5-yard completion to Goodwin set up fourth-and-1, and another catch by wide receiver Matthew Willis gave the offense a first down. Three straight incompletions — including one throw-away as the defense nearly had a sack — set up fourth-and-10 with 10.5 seconds left. Hanie dropped back and let a pass fly downfield, but it fell incomplete for a turnover on downs.
Finally, quarterback Adam Weber led the last round of the drill. His highlight including a long scramble to the opposite 41-yard line, and the drive came down to one final play with 3.8 seconds left on the clock and the ball on the 28-yard line. Weber fired toward the end zone, but cornerback Drayton Florence came away with an interception to seal the game and give the defense a win in two of the three two-minute drills.
The team finished practice with a full-team drill in the red zone. The first three plays of Manning’s reps were plenty interesting. It started with a leaping interception by safety Mike Adams in the end zone. The very next play was a touchdown grab by tight end Joel Dreessen in the back of the end zone, then the third play was blown dead due to a sack by Wolfe.
There were two direct snaps to running backs during the red-zone portion, including one to Willis McGahee that was stopped short of the goal line by Woodyard and Bailey and another to Lance Ball that was stopped by linebacker Nate Irving.
The last notable play of the session was a leaping pass breakup by safety David Bruton, which Woodyard loved. “I see you, Dave!” he shouted.
- Before the stretch portion of practice, offensive tackle Tony Hills lined up alongside defensive linemen and hit a blocking sled. It stood out because he was wearing a white, offense jersey while the defense was wearing orange.
- Broncos owner Pat Bowlen watched portions of practice from the sideline.
- During the 9-on-7 drill, rookie defensive end Malik Jackson also lined up inside at tackle. Jason Hunter saw some first-unit reps at defensive end during that drill as well as full-team drills.
The Broncos are back on the field Thursday morning at 8:50 a.m. for a practice free and open to the public. Gates open an hour prior to the start of the session.
Tags: Training Camp 2012