The Denver Broncos wrapped up their training camp Thursday without one of their biggest stars on the field.
While Von Miller was meeting with the NFL Players Association about his four-game suspension in Washington D.C., life went on for the Broncos.
With Miller out, Nate Irving lined up at strong side linebacker while Stewart Bradley remained at middle linebacker in the base defense.
Even though a record setting 86,364 fans came out to camp this year (as opposed to 18,671 in 2005), the Broncos needed some extra energy and noise to simulate a hostile road game environment. That’s why they brought out the speakers during 11-on-11 drills.
“You cannot duplicate what we are going to hear Saturday in Seattle,” Peyton Manning said. “But, you try to make it as irritating and as frustrating as it possibly can be out here at practice. So when you get to the games you say, I have worked through this before, this is why we have hand signals and the lineman sometimes are having to read lips at times because it is so loud.”
During a stretch when the speakers were on, Manning went 6-for-6. Then things got more difficult for him. From the 4-yard line, Manning was adjusting the play at the line of scrimmage, but couldn’t get it off in time. That’s when he signaled for a timeout. The first play after the timeout saw Manning throwing a pick into the arms of Champ Bailey in the end zone on a pass intended for Eric Decker.
That brought Brock Osweiler and the two’s out for the same goal line-type situation. In consecutive plays, Trindon Holliday caught a touchdown pass.
Holliday played quite a bit with the first team today, both at receiver and at running back. That’s because up and coming undrafted rookie C.J. Anderson went down with a right leg injury during 11-on-11 drills. He was carted off the field and not putting any weight on the leg.
“It’s tough,” Ronnie Hillman said. “You don’t want anything like that to happen to any of your guys…Hopefully he’s OK and everything is negative [with the tests]. But it hurts the room; it hurts to see one of your guys go down.”
It was an unfortunate situation because Knowshon Moreno was held out of practice for the past two days (bruised knee) and Jeremiah Johnson has also been on the sidelines. That means that Anderson would have seen a lot more action against Seattle, playing directly behind Hillman and Montee Ball.
Overall the Broncos are happy that camp is over.
“Honestly, sleeping in my bed,” Bailey said of what the best part about training camp being over is. “That’s probably the biggest difference. The work still goes on; we just don’t have late days like we’ve had.”
“I think the best part is knowing that we got a lot of good work accomplished,” Manning said. “It has been a physical camp. We are in full pads just about every day, which certainly can take a toll physically on players, but guys have pushed and worked through that…But I think having a sense of accomplishment is probably one of the better things.”
That and throwing footballs at your tight end while he’s in the sideline port-a-potty. That’s what happened to Julius Thomas when he stepped inside. All four quarterback (Manning, Osweiler, Zac Dysert, and Ryan Katz) ran over throwing balls. They had been waiting to do that to someone all throughout camp.
The Broncos have one more evening walkthrough (closed to the public) before flying to Seattle on Friday.