Today marked day 5 of training camp for the Denver Broncos. It was the 3rd day in pads. By all accounts, it was an intense day at the office for our beloved boys in Orange and Blue.
Following a day where the Broncos got to practice in front of the fans at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, the team didn’t seemingly go through any fan withdrawals. On the contrary, today was one of the most explosive days at camp so far. Incendiary even. There were a couple of chippy scuffles. More on that later.
DeMarcus Ware was held out of practice today in a precautionary move by the coaching staff. He suffered a lower leg bruise yesterday and the team wants to play it safe with the Dallas Cowboys’ all-time leader in sacks. Coach Fox has gone on the record more than once saying that “it’s nothing serious”, so fret not. John Boyett, Greg Latta, and Jameson Konz were also held out of practice, all with minor injuries.
Quanterus Smith stepped up today, as he filled in for Ware at RDE. Via denverbroncos.com, the always excellent independent analyst, Andrew Mason, said this:
"“Smith generated pressure. He flashed his speed in the one-on-one period and shook off Julius Thomas to stifle a Ball run in his direction during a team period.”"
Since Smith had to be effectively redshirted his rookie season, we haven’t really had the opportunity to see how he looks 100% healthy. This bit of news is encouraging. I can’t wait to see him in the preseason. He possesses a rare skill set, with his explosive first step and an uncanny ability to bend around the edge.
We also learned that Smith was not the only DE to step up and shine in Ware’s absence. Rookie Kenny Anunike, from Duke University, also made his way into Mason’s notebook.
Anunike has been a very pleasant surprise in camp thus far. He’ll need to continue this trend of consistently flashing in camp if he hopes to make the final roster. With Ware, Derek Wolfe, Malik Jackson and Quanterus Smith all standing ahead of him on the depth chart, he faces an uphill battle. If he were to make the team, it would likely have to come at the expense of Smith, which means that we’re going to see these two go toe-to-toe over the coming weeks for that spot. The spirit of competition, right? Gotta love it.
I’ve been excited about Marvin Austin ever since the pre-draft process of 2011. I had hoped that year that the Broncos would select him. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Or was it? Austin has been flashing in Broncos camp every practice so far, and today was no exception.
I’d have to concur with my buddy, Bronco Mike. I’ve been saying this since the Broncos picked him up. If Austin can stay healthy, and that’s a big IF, then it’s only a short matter of time before his immense talent gets put on display out on the grass, which likely means that fan favorite, Mitch Unrein, will be on the outside looking in. Only time will tell.
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Lerentee McCray also had to redshirt his rookie year, due to injury. Similar to last training camp, McCray is flying around, making plays, but at a higher level this time. You can never have too many pass rushers and with Von Miller still recovering from his torn ACL, McCray’s emergence could prove to be timely and fruitful. In the same piece, Andrew Mason said this:
"“McCray got pressure on Manning early during the first team period of practice. He got around the left side of the offensive line, forcing backside pressure on the quarterback, who got the pass away to Ball just in time.”"
Safety, Duke Ihenacho, has continued his physical brand of play into camp. Today, Ronnie Hillman was on the losing end of a vicious Ihenacho hit that popped the 3rd year running back’s helmet clean off. Fortunately, Hillman was unharmed. Learning under T.J. Ward can only help Ihenacho. Especially on the mental side of the game, where he clearly struggled last year. With a healthy Quinton Carter and the fiery John Boyett, Ihenacho will have to show the coaching staff that he has progressed this year if he hopes to make the team again. I like his chances, but he’s no lock.
Speaking of Carter, he also delivered what Mason called “one of the most rattling collisions of camp” on poor Juwan Thompson. I’m so stoked to see the Predator back in action, after missing the last 2 years with a nagging knee injury. I’m looking forward to seeing him light dudes up in the preseason.
Sly Williams is continuing his dominant play. He is repeatedly blowing his opposing blocker off the snap and has been a regular visitor in the offense’s living room. He’s one of the players we at PO have been expecting to have a breakout season and it’s looking like he’s not going to disappoint us.
On the offensive side of the ball, Ronnie Hillman received some positive marks today, making it harder for his pesky detractors to clown on him. Don’t be surprised to see Hillman take control of the RB2 spot behind ball. He’s technically the most experienced back on the roster. The Broncos have also been giving him a look at returning kicks and punts. His speed and short area burst could come in handy on special teams, making him even more valuable to the team.
Isaiah Burse is also making himself very valuable to the team. He’s been flashing on both special teams as a returner and on offense. Don’t be surprised if the Broncos carry 6 WRs on the roster this year, including Burse.
Mason said that the intensity of today’s practice unfortunately had some negative effects. Some Bronco on Bronco crime. Said he:
"“During Monday’s practice, three donnybrooks flared among Broncos, beginning with a scrap between linebacker L.J. Fort and center Will Montgomery. A scrum that appeared to involve Derek Wolfe, Sione Fua, Ben Garland and others, and a final donnybrook during a short-yardage period closed out the practice, sending the Broncos into a welcomed day off to cool down.”"
In the dog days of training camp, and especially once the pads go on, scuffles like this are going to pop up. At least nothing serious went down. I’m looking at you, Steve Smith.
That’s it for today. As always, if you’re not reading Andrew Mason’s “5 Thoughts From Training Camp” articles, you’re doing yourself a disservice. He’s the best Broncos beat writer out there.
Tomorrow, the Broncos will get a much needed rest day. They will reconvene with another public practice at SAFAMH on Wednesday.
Oh, and this happened.