At the first day of training camp on Thursday, there was a discernible energy floating around Dove Valley. Perhaps it was the record 4,372 fans who endured the July heat to get their first glance of offseason acquisition bombshell Peyton Manning. Perhaps it was the reciprocal show of enthusiasm from the players – at one point new Bronco Andre Caldwell badly beat bubble player Tony Carter during one-on-one passing drill and proceeded to linger in the endzone, hamming up the first unofficial touchdown of the season. Perhaps the magic of last year has renewed fans’ passion for their Denver Broncos. Whatever the reason, football is back and the Denver Broncos are ready to defend their AFC West title.
In case you weren’t able to make it to the team facility to get your fix, here are a couple of quick notes from the first day of Training Camp 2012:
Tempo: Despite the heat, that aforementioned energy led to a great tempo during practice. Players were moving so seamlessly in and out of drills that the session ended six minutes early. Coach John Fox mentioned that practices are based on a preset to-do list, not necessarily an end time.
Quarterbacks: Manning was just as advertised. He was fast-paced and he was accurate. It is, of course, way too early to judge his overall health and rust factor, but today was an excellent foundation. Many of today’s passes were short to intermediate, so it’s tough to tell who of Caleb Hannie, Brock Osweiler, and Adam Weber will challenge for the backup role.
Injuries: Receiver Brandon Stokley did not attend practice with flu-like symptoms. Knowshon Moreno and Chris Kuper are the two most notables coming off substantial injuries; both practiced on a limited based, but their mere presence this early in the season is an encouraging sign.
Weakside Linebacker: D.J. Williams is the kind of player you want on your football team. He been the team leader in tackles since 2009 and a former defensive captain. There is no doubt that the Broncos’ defense is better with him on the field. The only variable is whether his antics will preclude him from being there. Williams will serve a six-game suspension to start the season for the use of performance enhancing substances. Fox wasted no time in prepping Jack Del Rio‘s defense for this upheaval and put Wesley Woodyard on the first-team defense. Williams wasn’t really even involved with the second-team defense, often getting his conditioning work in by mimicking plays.
Return Game: With Eric Page‘s torn ACL resulting in him being waived from the team, Tracy Porter, Drayton Florence, Syd’Quan Thompson, and Eric Decker took repetitions returning punts. Don’t be surprised to see one of the litany of cornerbacks on the Broncos’ roster stick around specifically to handle returns.
Here are a couple pictures from today’s practice:
Friday’s practice is open to the public and will run from 2:20-5:00pm at Dove Valley.