The eyes couldn’t help but wander to the sidelines on Friday morning, as the roster of players missing from the session was as notable as those who remained on the field. Here’s a rundown:
… Head Coach Mike Shanahan said that Warrick Holdman was held at Sky Ridge Medical Center overnight and had some numbness on Friday morning. “The doctors thought that he would be released at 10 or 11 a.m. this morning,” Shanahan said …
… Guard Ben Hamilton “got dinged a little bit” on Thursday and was in uniform Friday, but did not take part in any of the team sessions. “Knowing Ben, he should be ready to go tomorrow,” Shanahan said …
… Javon Walker became the latest wide receiver to encounter an infirmity when he pulled up holding his upper left leg while running a pass route during two-minute drill work midway through the session. Walker remained on the field for two more snaps and then went to the sidelines. He did not return for the remainder of the day. “He got a little tightness,” Shanahan said. “I wasn’t sure if he cramped up, but he didn’t pull anything. It just got a little tight, so we kept him out.” …
… Wide receiver remains the hardest-hit unit of the Broncos. Brandon Stokley sat out with a right thigh injury, Glenn Martinez missed a second consecutive day of work with a thigh injury, while Marquay McDaniel’s absence extended to three days due to a strained hamstring. By the end of practice Friday morning, the Broncos only had five healthy wide receivers — Quincy Morgan, Domenik Hixon, David Terrell, Brian Clark and David Kircus — and Hixon missed an afternoon practice this week with a separated shoulder. The absences, however, did not greatly affect the practice pattern.
“Sometimes, when you’re going three-wide or four-wide, you can’t do it, so you put a tight end in there, and you still get the same work done from a defensive perspective and you’re really running the same plays from an offensive perspective,” Shanahan said. “It’s just a different person playing that position, but you should be able to get the same amount of work done.”
Perhaps the primary beneficiary of that has been tight end Nate Jackson, who was a wide receiver before switching positions in 2005.
“He’s been very consistent and he’s gotten better in the blocking game and obviously he’s made some big-time catches,” Shanahan said. “He’s looked very good.”
… Tight end was another compromised position, with Chad Mustard and Teyo Johnson both sitting out with right hamstring and left calf injuries, respectively. They joined Tony Scheffler on the sidelines; he’s been on the physically-unable-to-perform list since the start of training camp …
… Fulback Paul Smith also sat out with a groin injury …
… There was good news for the Broncos on the injury front. Defensive tackles Marcus Thomas and Sam Adams returned to action after missing Thursday’s work with right calf and right knee injuries, respectively. Adams said the knee “felt like a million bucks” following the practice.
NOTES FROM THE MORNING:
POINTS OF EMPHASIS: The Broncos continued to work on their hurry-up offense, giving the offense a minute on the clock and the ball at the 50-yard line, with the task being to get into field-goal range. The first-team offense succeeded, thanks mainly to a 14-yard Jay Cutler-to-Brian Clark connection. Jason Elam subsequently drilled a 46-yard field goal. The second-team offense turned the ball over on downs after getting into a fourth-and-15 situation … The special teams also got in some work on field goals, although two Elam attempts slammed into an upright.
WHO’S WHERE? Jimmy Kennedy spelled Gerard Warren in the base defensive package for a few series, but Warren had the balance of the work with the first team. The remainder of the base first-unit line remained unchanged, with Warren and Kennedy joined by Sam Adams at tackle and ends Ebenezer Ekuban and John Engelberger … Nate Webster was back at strongside linebacker … The second-team base defense included three rookies: ends Tim Crowder and Jarvis Moss and tackle Marcus Thomas. Amon Gordon rounded out the quartet … Steve Cargile rotated in for Curome Cox with the second unit during the first period of team drills … With Hamilton injured, Chris Myers took his spot at left guard with the first team … Domonique Foxworth spelled Dre’ Bly for a few plays on the first unit in team drills.
ALMOST, BUT NOT QUITE: Jeff Shoate continued to show aggression in his coverage, getting his hands on consecutive passes during team work. Unfortunately for the three-year veteran, he could not hang on to either toss. “I’m focusing on the defense, I’m doing so well with that, I need to put the effort into finishing the play off too,” Shoate said. “I’m definitely pleased with my play, because I’m in position to make the plays. That’s the hardest part of this game, being in position, knowing what you’re doing, and not letting the offense make the play. For me it’s just finishing the play off, making that big play for the defense and for the team to win it in the end, but I’m definitely happy with my play right now.”
Shoate was nevertheless frustated after the second near miss; he kicked the ball about 15 yards back to the line of scrimmage in frustration. Nick Ferguson, meanwhile, tossed a helmet from the sidelines.
STANDOUT PLAYS: Kennedy got a hand on one of Patrick Ramsey’s passes; the play ended incomplete after Ramsey spiked the errant football to the ground … Jay Cutler and Javon Walker hooked up on a gorgeous pass that was reminiscent of their touchdown connection against the Bengals last Christmas Eve; Walker got past Champ Bailey to make the play … Andre Hall continued to show some burst, particularly on receptions. He had one play where he took a short pass in the backfield from Preston Parsons, eluded Demetrin Veal and shot upfield … Nate Jackson made several fine catches during team and seven-on-seven work … Hamza Abdullah burst into the backfield on a safety blitz for what would have been a sack in a game situation. “Way to come off that edge right there,” exhorted assistant head coach Jim Bates, adding counsel that Abdullah needed to lower his shoulder … Dre’ Bly intercepted a pass intended for David Kircus in one-on-one work.
Special teams this afternoon. Until the next post, vaya con Dios.