Posted Tue Aug 4th by Monty
Denver Broncos training camp… News and notes from the Tuesday practice.
The most notable attendee at training camp today wasn’t Robert Ayers or Jarvis Moss (although both were in attendance)… it was referee Ed Hochuli. The controversial figure between Denver and San Diego fans is visiting the Broncos, along with the rest of his three-man crew, to ref scrimmages and discuss rule changes to the players and media. That should cause quite a stir over by the sea.
Meanwhile, Brandon Marshall was absent again, along with Mr. Holdout Knowshon Moreno. Nick Greisen was placed on IR, and the Broncos resigned LB Braxton Kelley from Kentucky to fill his roster spot. Nic Clemons is still missing time after being injured a few days back, but the fact that Clemons was injured long before Greisen and Clemons isn’t on IR is a good sign for the DT.
I’m going to talk about the defense first today, because everyone wants to hear about Robert Ayers and Jarvis Moss, and because, frankly, the defense was more exciting.
MVP: Jack Williams
Jack Mutha F’in Williams. What a day for 26. The 2008 4th round draft pick had an interception, a handful of batted-down balls, and another interception in the end zone during two-minute/eleven-on-eleven drills that he took 99 yards down the right sideline to the house. When I tell you it looked exactly like Champ Bailey‘s infamous interception against Tom Brady during the 2005 postseason, know I mean it.
Williams has earned it. I had written down twice – but yet to fit it into a report – that Williams was the first guy on the practice field. He’s been out there several minutes before even the second guy, stretching, running, and doing all the little things right to improve himself. Today he reaped the rewards of those efforts. Sharing time with rookie Alphonso Smith as the starting nickelback, if Williams continues to do the little things he may unseat the second rounder this season.
Onto our first rounder, Robert Ayers. Head Coach Josh McDaniels said it best… “He doesn’t know what to do half the time yet. He’s very physical (but) got a long way to go.” I swear, I think the coach was peeking off my notebook while the media surrounded him; I came to the same conclusion. He looked lost out there – a lot.
Ayers lined up at both right outside linebacker (behind starter Elvis Dumervil) and left outside linebacker (both with the first and second team). By the end of the practice it seemed he had settled into first-team LOLB, unseating Darrell Reid from that spot, at least in those drills. At one point I also saw he and Dumervil both on the right-side, switching around a bit – don’t know if this was intentional or not – but ultimately Doom put his hand on the ground and lined up at end while Ayers was outside. Interesting.
It wasn’t all bad, and McDaniels was perfectly accurate in mentioning his physicality. He had back-to-back plays in team scrimmages where #56 looked unstoppable. Lining up at left outside linebacker, Ayers came cleanly off right tackle and would have sacked Chris Simms if contact were allowed. Instead, he put his hands up and ate a football. Blocked pass. On the very next play, Kyle Orton and the 1’s came up and Ayers stayed on the field. He destroyed – and I mean, destroyed – right tackle Ryan Harris. Harris was put on his butt the moment the two connected. It didn’t result in a sack – by the time Ayers continued his approach the ball was released – but watching an All-Pro caliber right tackle get dominated like that was an eyebrow-raising event.
Jarvis Moss returned today as well, a day later than to be expected. Moss was resigned to the third team after what I’ll call “his little stunt,” but physically he still looks impressive. Stepping back into coverage, which is supposed to be the most difficult part of a defensive end converting to linebacker, comes naturally to him. Pass rushing, especially after the blocker’s engaged, does not. Since that’s all he would be doing at DE, I think Moss moving to LB is encouraging. It gives him more options to use his physicality and versatility, and he definitely has the potential to get past the o-line when he’s starting three yards away from them. Keep at it, JM; I think this move could do wonders for you.
I watched the DL vs. OL one-on-one drills closely again. Seth Olsen had a hard time in these drills, and just flat out missed his block twice. Tim Crowder beat his man on more than one occasion and looked good; at one point he twisted Brandon Gorin around and another, he received praise from the coaches for the leverage he used and power in which he pushed Clint Oldenburg. Starters rarely meet face to face in these drills, but Kenny Peterson handled Ben Hamilton and Dumervil and Ryan Clady ended in a wash.
I noticed another one of the “little things” from another player – McBean. McBean is always among the first in line for every d-line drill. Sometimes these drills happen so fast the guys in the back don’t even get to do them, and you get the sense that some of them, like Marcus Thomas, are perfectly happy being last in line and missing another reason to move their legs. McBean shows that he wants it, and so I’m rooting for him.
MVP: Kyle Orton
After Orton’s interception to end the game, I didn’t want to give this award to him again, but there really wasn’t anyone else to give it to so Orton gets it by default. The Broncos ran several eleven-on-eleven drills; like most every practice, they employ about 90% pass plays. Orton was solid – very, very solid. After a good 20 minutes of impressive red zone work (Orton probably threw about 8 touchdowns from the 10-15 yard line), they went to a two-minute drill from deep in enemy territory. Orton executed the offense flawlessly – all passes – until they were only a few yards from the end zone. He threw six perfect passes, going 4 for 6 – one incomplete was a drop and the other a pass interference (the refs were there and called it as such) – before throwing the interception. He stood better in the pocket, despite the o-line struggling all day, and he had a few nice rollouts to boot. He’s clearly the starter, as his backups both had very weak performances.
The offensive line got worked a bit today. Harris got knocked on his butt by someone who hadn’t practiced in months, Ryan Clady had his hands full with Elvis Dumervil and the inside guys were put on skates often. But what really scares me is the backup o-line; there is no one there I feel really comfortable with. At one point Chris Simms was sacked on back-to-back plays lining up behind the second string (once by Moss, once by ILB Mario Haggan). Our o-line depth, or lack thereof, scares me.
Eddie Royal, Peyton Hillis and Jabar Gaffney continue to make plays. At this point, and without BMarsh out there, I’d say they’re our biggest threats, and in that order.
To end the practice, coach had the entire offense run sprints alone. The defense was excused. I told you the defense was more exciting.
The Broncos practice twice tomorrow, but the morning session is closed to the public; media only. BroncoTalk will be there, so check back here for the full report!