Aug 2, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) and linebacker Shaquil Barrett (48) warm up prior to the start of a scrimmage at Sports Authority Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
The Denver Broncos are hosting the Houston Texans for intrasquad practices this week in preparation for their game on Saturday night.
We knew both teams featured great pass rush tandems, the Broncos with Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware and the Texans with J.J. Watt and rookie Jadeveon Clowney. But after day one of the joint practices, it was the Broncos’ pass rush that stood out, and in a big way.
Led by a recovering Von Miller, the pass rush was almost uncontrollably good, per the team’s official site report of practice.
"The Broncos unit that shined brightest had to be the pass rush, led by an increasingly agile Von Miller. He won both of his 1-on-1 matchups in pass rush drills and provided pressure throughout the team periods. The Texans sent myriad blocking schemes at Miller without much success, as No. 58 found his way to Ryan Fitzpatrick with speed and power on multiple occasions.On the other side,DeMarcus Ware was pretty terrifying as well, getting past 2012 All-Pro tackle Duane Brown a few times for “sacks” of Fitzpatrick. During the Texans’ 2-minute drill specifically, Ware just missed a sack on the first play before picking one up two plays later.Not to be forgotten Derek Wolfe harassed Fitzpatrick throughout team periods, sacking him on his first play of the day and batting down a pass during the Texans’ 2-minute drill.Malik Jackson flashed as well, winning both of his 1-on-1s, and Lerentee McCray and Quanterus Smitheach had a likely sack late in team drills. Shaquil Barrett used a nice move in 1-on-1s, giving Texans tackle Derek Newton a strong shove to the chest before blowing past him inside."
For those keeping track at home, that’s nearly the entire unit making plays. Shockingly, there’s no mention of Marvin Austin…
So what does this mean for the Broncos? Well, the teams were not wearing pads, which is significant. Any one-on-one drill without pads would probably favor the faster defensive linemen, though it sounds as though the Broncos’ offensive line held their own against the Texans’ star pass rushers.
We all knew the Broncos would have an improved pass rush with the kind of depth the boast up front, but they must have made life really difficult on the Texans, in what sounds like a polar opposite caliber of practice than Peyton Manning said the offense had on Tuesday.
With this many playmakers up front, it’s not unreasonable to expect the Broncos will have a real chance to break the team’s single season sack record as well as potentially the NFL’s single season record. They have to continue working everyday, but reading these types of reports is definitely an encouragement, even if the players weren’t in pads.