Those who have followed the Denver Broncos all their lives have seen hundreds of special moments throughout the history of the franchise. Still, there was something extraordinary about seeing Peyton Manning run onto Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium in a Broncos uniform for the first time. Even fans raised on Mile High Magic and John Elway comebacks couldn’t help but be moved by what took place at the annual scrimmage on Saturday. A record 41,304 fans packed into the stadium which forced the opening of the middle bowl to handle the overflow. There were several loud roars and reasons for fans to cheer, but the loudest and longest occurred during Manning’s grand entrance. You would be hard pressed to find fans that didn’t get goose bumps at that moment. It signaled the beginning of an exciting journey that is going to last until Manning decides to hang them up, and Broncos Country is ready for the ride.
Manning may have been the headliner, but there were several other things worth talking about by the time the crowd headed for the exits. Here are some thoughts on the Broncos scrimmage:
- Willis McGahee was in full-on Beast Mode. It may have been his first real action of the preseason but he looked to be in regular season form already. He had a couple of tough runs for big yardage where he either dragged tacklers along or went right over them. If McGahee hadn’t already introduced himself to Drayton Florence earlier in camp, he certainly did it with his stiff arm on Saturday.
- The offense took a little time to get started, but by the time Manning was finished he led the Broncos offense on an impressive touchdown drive that culminated with a nice grab by Eric Decker. The touchdown play was vintage Manning. On third-and-six from the 9-yard line he was shouting directions to his teammates until the last second and delivered a beautiful back shoulder pass to the left corner of the end zone. Decker adjusted to the ball, hauled it in, and touched off another celebration from the big crowd.
- The first and second defensive units both put a ton of pressure on the quarterbacks. The biggest concern from the entire scrimmage was how much pressure the starting offensive line allowed on Manning by the second team defensive line. Pass protection should be a focal point in the meeting rooms going forward during camp. The Broncos need Manning upright if he is going to be effective.
- It was interesting that Caleb Hanie took the second team reps at quarterback, but it made more sense after Brock Osweiler took the field. Osweiler looked raw, but as with every rookie he probably should at this point. I still fully expect him to move into the backup role by the time the season rolls around.
- Quarterback Adam Weber turned my head a few times. He threw the ball with authority and had a nifty scramble that exhibited his elusiveness. I’m interested to see what happens with Weber during the rest of camp.
- The first team defense looked nasty during their live reps. They completely bottled up the offense, put constant pressure on the quarterback during passing plays, and did a good job of gang tackling. Elvis Dumervil had the signature moment with a sack that was helped along by some penetration by Von Miller.
- At defensive tackle (possibly the most interesting position to watch during training camp), Ty Warren started with the first team and played well. He is trying to bounce back from consecutive missed seasons due to injuries and got off to a fast start. He would have registered a sack against Hanie but the quarterbacks were off limits on Saturday.
- Broncos Country brought it as always! Denver fans never cease to amaze me but the sight of 41,000 plus fans at a glorified practice was very impressive. If Saturday was any indication the season opener against Pittsburgh is going to be something to be remembered.
- The Broncos may have some issues to work out still, but regardless of what happens the rest of the year this team is in good shape as long as Manning is behind center. His arm looks fine and at this point it’s hard to see any lingering effects from his neck injury.
- Denver’s first preseason game is Thursday against the Chicago Bears. With as many new faces as the Broncos have on their roster these games are extremely important and each one is going to tell us quite a bit about what we can expect in 2012. Hit me up on Twitter and let’s chat during the games in real time!
Tags: Adam Weber Brock Osweiler Broncos Country Caleb Hanie Denver Broncos Drayton Florence Dumervil Elvis Dumervil Eric Decker John Elway Mile High Magic Mile High Monday NFL Peyton Manning Sports Authority Field At Mile High Stadium Von Miller Willis Mcgahee