To set the scene for this morning, there wasn’t a cloud in the Colorado sky. Small planes meandered overhead waiting their turn to land at the Centennial airport. The smell of freshly manicured turf and gasoline coming from the Jugs machine reminded me of any typical Saturday morning when residents of any neighborhood in any small town in this country fire up their lawnmowers. This, however, was not any typical day as I walked into the front office of the Denver Broncos Headquarters at Dove Valley.
Placed behind the receptionist’s desk was a giant picture of Invesco Field. As I walked in, plaques and trophies could be seen on the right while a picture of Broncos owner, Pat Bowlen, was to the left. Entering the Broncos headquarters for the first time made me feel like Dorothy knocking at the large door in the city of OZ. There was no yellow orange brick road leading to the building, but there certainly was a special aura that only surrounds winning teams.
For the first time, I stood opposite of where the fans sit on the grassy knoll. I watched as players exited the facility, stepping out onto the practice field for the first of two practices of the day. Mario Haggan jumped out of the orange door and posed a little for the cameras. Defensive coordinator, Don “Wink” Martindale, walked passed and said “It’s another beautiful day in Colorado.” Yes, yes it is coach!
As players took the field, I noted who was missing. Brian Dawkins, Brandon Stokley, and Champ Bailey were given the morning off. This week’s usual suspects who were out because of injury include Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, and of course, Jarvis Moss and Elvis Dumervil.
I also noticed that a new guy who used to wear the hated silver and black Raiders colors was called in by the Broncos front office for reinforcements at running back. Justin Fargas had many big games against the Broncos, and now he’s crossed the Mile High line into thin air and is ready to help the team.
D.J. Williams has traded in his blue jersey for an orange jersey. No, he’s not helping our trio of QBs. He’s a “non-contact” player meaning that other players can’t hit him.
Before basic warm-up drills, the guys engage in positional drills. Receivers are running their routes, defensive linemen line up against upside down garbage cans, and QBs get their arms loose with short passes to the equipment guys.
The team then comes together for warm-up drills. Today’s music selection is a rap flavored playlist which excited some players so much that they beak into dance. Rich Tuten, the Broncos strength and conditioning coach screams out directions through an orange cone. The team does 40 yards worth of butt kicks, high knees, grapevine shuffle, lunges, and running before they line up down the field to stretch.
Trainers help certain players with stretching while others just stretch on their own. It seems that every practice Kyle Orton, Jabar Gaffney, Eddie Royal, Brandon Lloyd, and usually Brandon Stokley stretch in a circle together, showing their camaraderie.
The team breaks up into positional drills once again as the receivers run longer and harder patterns, the linebackers participate in a strip drill, and running backs hit the blocking pads with the force of a semi-truck all while keeping their legs moving and their hips downfield.
To my right, I notice ESPN’s John Clayton is covering the team. He’s chatting it up with some Denver Post reporters and Jim Saccomano.
Next thing I know, the “Med Bed” revs its engine behind me and heads out to the sideline. All heads turn and hearts skip a few beats as we wait to see who the next injured player is. As far as I’m concerned, the Med Bed is the equivalent to an ambulance. They should probably put sirens and lights on the small cart because whenever it makes an appearance, heads turn. The cart was on its way to pick up tight end Marquez Branson. Branson appeared to have a right leg injury and had to be taken off the field by the Med-Bed, and then helped into the training facility. I will post further details about the injury as the team knows more.
Speaking of injuries, Robert Ayers also left the practice field with an arm injury. His condition does not seem as serious, however, and he spoke to the media after practice.
According to the players who spoke after practice, this one was not one of their better practices.
In 7-on-7 drills, Andre Goodman broke up two passes in a row. Tony Carter broke up a pass and David Burton broke up two of his own. I’m sure this was a disappointment for all of the QBs since there was no defensive pressure for them to deal with.
Kyle Orton did throw a couple of touchdowns to Matthew Willis and Brandon Lloyd. Brady Quinn had a nice toss to Daniel Graham for six points.
Next, the team moved on to 11-on-11 play. From the 20 yard line, Andre Goodman broke up another Orton pass, but then Orton hit Lloyd in the endzone for a score. On one play, it looked like Eddie Royal was about to score until Nate Jones jumped in front to break up the pass. Towards the end of the practice segment, rookie Perrish Cox made the play of the day when he intercepted Orton and went in for six.
The offense did sprints to close out practice.
The dog-days of camp are well underway. Reportedly, the team will begin it’s preparation for Sunday’s first preseason game against the Bengals tomorrow afternoon.
I will post much more from this morning’s practice including more photos and interview quotes. I will also be at this evenings practice, so stay tuned in for the rest of the day.
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