Posted Sun Aug 1st by Monty
“BT Camp Scout” is a new feature I’m trying this year. Basically, while I’m covering camp, you can expect quotes, audio/video, and a general practice report at the end of each session — same as last year. But this is where I’ll dig into deeper notes of interest. I’ll talk about drills, who looked good, who didn’t; who hustled, who didn’t; and give away daily stud/dud awards. This is the stuff you won’t find anywhere else.
It’s 8:15 a.m., fifteen minutes before the Denver Broncos unofficially begin their 2010 season, and Kyle Orton, Brady Quinn, and Tim Tebow are all on the field. There’s no sign of tension after the offseason controversy involved in the drafting of Tebow, the trading for Quinn, or the contract status of Orton; all three know their place, but seeing them all out working early is a sign that none are prepared to relinquish valuable practice reps, let alone the attention of those coaches who would decide their fate.
As various receivers and tight ends toss footballs between the three quarterbacks, defensive lineman Ben Garland stretches on the east field alone. Garland, who has pledged himself to the Air Force and will leave camp to report if and when called, was making an early statement he would echo throughout practice: one of hard work, hustle, and noticeably good effort on every drill and every play.
Overall, as a team, the Broncos mirrored Garland’s effort in Day One. If there was one theme to the first day of practice, it was of hustle and effort, moreso than I can remember in last year’s camp opener.
It isn’t long before the players are warming up to the tunes of Weezer and U2, among others, and soon they begin positional drills.
Between the quarterbacks, Kyle Orton showed why he’s the starter. His release was the fastest, he was accurate, and he boasted his underrated arm strength a number of times. Quinn was only so-so and seemed to take a few throws off. In the p.m. practice he also held onto the football too long a few times. Not the most impressive practice for #9.
Tebow demonstrated a strong arm, and he was consistently accurate. The issue is his wind-up: it’s painfully slow. He also struggled holding onto the football during team drills, and he tucked the ball under his arm and scrambled far more than one would like to see. These plays may dazzle and excite the crowd, but, raucous applause or not, it behooves the rookie to stay in the pocket and work on throwing the football.
I watched the running backs attack the sled while limited to making contact with their shoulder. Knowshon Moreno stood out, until 5’10” Toney Baker came and destroyed every other player’s previous marks. “I want to hear metal!”, the assistant coach screamed at his running backs, referring to the sound the sled makes when hit with enough force. Baker answered his coach’s call with sled-smacking power, to the coach’s cheers.
Little note, but an important one: at the end of both practices, Tebow was determined to finish each and every gasser in front of the pack. It’s impossible not to appreciate the kid’s consistent effort and the message it sends the rest of his teammates.
With Moreno and Buckhalter MIA in the afternoon, I paid a bit closer attention to the four gents vying for their practice reps: Bruce Hall, Lance Ball, and Toney Baker, and Kolby Smith. Baker looked the strongest and by far the most physical. Smith had a strong practice — I liked his vision and determination when hitting the hole in team drills, while Ball showed a bit of impressive shiftiness.
The starting offensive line, from left to right, were Tyler Polumbus (LT), Zane Beadles (LG), J.D. Walton (C), Seth Olsen (RG), and Ryan Harris (RT). They were inconsistent in team drills, and Beadles had a particularly rough going, getting pushed to the ground on more than one occassion. I’ll be keeping a closer eye on this unit tomorrow.
The one-on-one blocking drills featuring offensive skill position players (running backs, tight ends, and wide receivers) were fun to watch. For the most part, the linebackers drilled through their opposing blocker with ease. Even Daniel Graham, a notoriously good blocker, was getting abused (and against Robert Ayers no less, who looked good). Things got interesting when the offensive player was able to make stand.
Tight end Richard Quinn did so consistently against a number of players. He’s a wild blocker — his arms flail a bit and he boasts some crazy footwork — but it got the job done. Running back Toney Baker also had a few nice blocks here.
Stud of the Day
WR Matthew Willis. Willis’ three big morning catches, one from each quarterback, highlighted the day’s events, and he looked strong in the afternoon practice as well.
The Broncos practice at 2:30 p.m. Monday, which is free and open to the public. We’ll see you then.