Posted Wed Aug 1st by Monty
The Denver Broncos predicted the weather would make their 2:20 p.m. practice impossible, so they moved it up four hours and closed it to the public. It turned out to be an inspired, even clairvoyant move: the clouds opened up with rain and lightning just as Coach John Fox and company concluded practice at 1:15 p.m., sending the players running to the locker room after a successful first day back at the fields of Dove Valley.
It was too bad the fans were not allowed to view this practice — the Broncos enjoyed their first true two-minute drill under Peyton Manning, which was easily the highlight of ALL of training camp so far.
Safety Quinton Carter (hamstring) and offensive tackle Orlando Franklin (concussion) continued to miss practice. Joshua Moore (hamstring) was limited. During practice, the Broncos lost three wide receivers: Eric Decker (groin strain), Greg Orton (ankle), and D’Andre Goodwin (ankle). Running back Ronnie Hillman (hamstring) also went to the sidelines. Of all of these injuries, I only saw Orton actually leave the field to the locker room; Goodwin and Decker went to the sidelines and missed reps. Didn’t see Hillman.
60 YARDS. SEVEN POINTS. SEVENTY SECONDS.
The full rundown can be found here, but Peyton Manning’s execution of the Broncos’ two-minute drill was true wonder to behold. Between his 4th and 10 pass to Brandon Stokley and Demaryius Thomas‘ sideline sprint to the one-yard line, there’s reason to believe this new Broncos offense will be able to accomplish anything.
Two other quarterbacks were also given the opportunity to run the offense to victory or suffer in defeat under that exact same game scenario: Caleb Hanie and Adam Weber.
Hanie was indecisive and looked uncomfortable in the pocket. He couldn’t convert his first set of four downs, completing one pass for a few yards to D’Andre Goodwin (Goodwin was injured on hte play) before ultimately going four and out. Broncos coaches let the offensive series continue under Hanie with a new set of downs anyway, but the session did not improve. Hanie was sacked by Jason Hunter on first down, then Hunter returned to get a hand on a Hanie deep ball the next down, which knuckle-balled to an incompletion. His next throw was deep and on target to Virgil Green, but the tight end was double covered, and it was knocked away as Green jumped in the air to grab it. On fourth down, Hanie was intercepted by
Weber was better than Hanie, but still a ways behind Peyton. The second-year QB ran for a first down on third and six, wisely getting out of bounds at the 41 yard line, gaining 15 yards on the play. An incompletion later, Weber hit Jeremiah Johnson for 13 yards, but the running back forgot to get out of bounds. Tick tick tick. With 3.8 seconds left, Weber launched a hail mary into the end zone from the 28 yard-line that was intercepted by Syd’Quan Thompson.
JASON HUNTER JOCKEYS FOR POSITION
I mentioned Hunter’s impressive work in the two-minute drill against the Hanie-led offense; results like that were probably what earned the veteran a spot on the first-team defensive line Wednesday. Hunter replaced Robert Ayers at left defensive end for much of practice.
“Right now, this early in camp, I’m just working. That’s all I can do every day,” Hunter told The Denver Post. “They shuffle the roster around, and I don’t really know what that means, but I know I was fortunate to get some reps with the (starters), so I’m just going to use that as a tool to get better.”
For his part, Ayers didn’t take the demotion lying down. He added a sack with the second team to make sure he was still in the Broncos’ first team conversation.
GOOD DAY FOR DAVID BRUTON
Safety David Bruton repeatedly made it into my notebook Wednesday afternoon, and for the right reasons. He was involved in a number of good breakups in team work, and I didn’t note him getting beat in one-on-one’s once.
For some reason I remember him getting an interception today as well, though after two read-throughs I couldn’t find that in my notebook. He did break up Caleb Hanie’s last pass of the day, a dart to the back of the end zone in red zone work. Bruton was five yards ahead of Hanie’s target in the end zone but sent the football skyward. He also kept Peyton Manning from being perfect, about which you can read in the next section.
MANNING, OFFENSE NEARLY PERFECT IN ONE-ON-ONE’S
The receiver/defensive back one-on-one’s continued, and Manning rotated in and out of the quarterback spot to take a total of ten snaps from the 35-yard line. Demaryius Thomas and Brandon Stokley got the offense in an early groove, before Matthew Willis absolutely torched rookie Omar Bolden. Then Thomas went deep on a fly route, getting past Ramzee Robinson by more than a step to haul in Manning’s perfect pass in the end zone.
Stokley ran a wheel route but was well-covered by Tracy Porter; it didn’t matter, Manning’s ball was so well thrown it virtually went through Porter’s hands before finding its way into Stokley’s. Andre Caldwell got the best of Tony Carter before Manning lined up for his 10th and final pass of the period.
That pass was a shallow cross by Matthew Willis. David Bruton came in and broke it up expertly. Told you he was having a good day.
- Gotta love a good one-handed catch. Tight end Jacob Tamme used his left hand to snatch a Manning pass in the end zone early in practice. Later, in team work, Lance Ball reached back on an oh-so-slightly underthrown Manning ball to snare it with one hand, then run uphill.
- Also gotta love a good pancake block, like the one center J.D. Walton delivered to Mitch Unrein. The 291-pound defensive tackle didn’t know what hit him.
- Brock Osweiler saw a lot less work today. I wonder if the Broncos are intentionally trying to limit his snaps, a reaction to the way the media has been embracing him as the #2 QB.
- Wonder what it’s like to get encouragement from PFM? I do too, but rookie tight end Anthony Miller doesn’t. The Cal rookie grabbed a Manning pass in the corner of the end zone, right where the signal caller directed him, as Manning shouted, “There we go Anthony!”
VIDEO AND PHOTO GALLERY
Photos and videos of Wednesday’s practice available on our Facebook page, including a video showing rookie Derek Wolfe in action and safety Mike Adams talking about Peyton Manning running the two-minute drill.
The next practice (weather permitting) will be open to the public Thursday at 8:50 a.m. See ya there!