Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Denver Broncos Training Camp: Day 5 (Morning Practice)

A little late, I apologize- ran into some traffic, here's the highlights:

Rookie fullback Peyton Hillis, starting center Tom Nalen and tight end Chad Mustard (who's been out since team camp) were not suited today. Right guard Montrae Holland again spent time on the sideline with strength and conditioning coach Rich Tuten.

  • Fans who have followed should notice that the Broncos defense will in fact look towards the past with their new scheme. This means blitzing, especially from the edges, we've seen Champ Bailey come off the edge so quickly that had it been a game the quarterback may have been annihilated. Today it was Dre Bly's turn and while he gave his best effort to sack Jay Cutler, Cutler seemed to exhibit a thing or two that he's been working this off season- scrambling. Cutler broke past Bly with a spin move that was called canceled out by coaches who ruled the play a sack, based on the fact that defensive players are not allowed to hit the quarterback. Denver fans have a lot to look forward to though, as the bootleg is back and rookie fullback Peyton Hillis possesses two of the best hands in Denver.

  • Where the Broncos may be in trouble at their quarterback position is with their backup, Patrick Ramsey does not seem to be able to gel very well with the new guys. Over throwing backs in the flat and give me interceptions to the Denver defensive backs (one of which newly acquired safety Marlon McCree picked off).

  • As I mentioned earlier, Tom Nalen sat out and we got to see Casey Wiegmann at center with the first team. He did not disappoint, the offensive line, with only one single returning starter from last season (Chris Kuper) looked leaps and bounds better than they have over the last couple of days as a unit. Charging the way for Cutler to connect consistently during the eleven-on-eleven scrimmage, resulting in a touchdown pass, on a bootleg to wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Right tackle Ryan Harris continues to improve, making every day better than the last for him. That's the good news, the bad news (for Ryan Harris) is that Erik Pears and rookie tackle Tyler Polumbus are breathing heavily down his neck, both had very good days. At right guard Kuper was able to fend off defensive tackle DeWayne Robertson (whom has been a nightmare for Broncos interior linemen thus far). Though Robertson proved to be too much for Wiegmann once or twice. Rookie center/guard Kory Lichtensteiger also got a lot of work in and he looks good.

  • At tight end, Tony Scheffler and Nate Jackson lined up opposite each other, with Daniel Graham looking improved in the short passing game. The heavy involvement of Jackson over the last couple days may indicate depth chart movement at this position- meaning Jackson may have bumped Scheffler down. However, I don't see that being the case, as Scheffler has always been Cutler's favorite option on the field.

  • In the offensive backfield Michael Pittman played the entirety at fullback. Andre Hall was once again the best running back of the committee, catching and running better than the others. That is not to say that Selvin Young isn't still brilliant at running back, because he is. Hall's just looking better. Rookies Ryan Torain and Anthony Aldridge both continue to shine in training camp. Denver's offense seems to be using the running back more and more as a pass option than they have in recent years, one if not two of the backs in Denver could draw comparisons to great receiving backs of the past. Torain knocked over defensive end Elvis Dumervil in a pass block, while both Aldridge and last year's starting fullback Cecil Sapp struggled a bit with dropped balls that should have been caught. Where Sapp failed (catching passes), Pittman excelled and both quarterbacks (Cutler and Ramsey) used him as a constant option throughout the day. Sapp also drew the teeth of Mike Shanahan and running back coach Bobby Turner, over his apparent lack of focus.

  • At receiver both Brandon Marshall and Darrell Jackson looked great, though Jackson fumbled on a reverse from Cutler. Glenn Martinez may have surpassed Keary Colbert on the depth chart, as Martinez played predominantly with the second-team and Colbert played mostly with the third-team. The Martinez "**** in his hat," as Shanahan says, dropping a nice pass from Cutler that may have gone for a large gain, had Martinez caught the ball. Rookie Eddie RoyalBrandon Stokley were both very quiet, which may have had more to do with corner back Dre Bly stepping up his coverage game than the level either receiver is playing at.

  • Rookie Eddie Royal did do exceptionally well as a punt returner, Glenn Martinez and Marquay McDaniel also fielded punts. Punters Sam Paulescu and Brett Kern continue to go head-to-head with Paulescu's performance today, Kern may not be able to run away with the roster spot.

  • On the defensive line, Tim Crowder saw time with the first-team at defensive end and Alvin McKinley spent some time at defensive tackle. Defensive end Jarvis Moss also rotated with Elvis Dumervil and continues to dominate (despite a newspapers report that he was struggling). Crowder went head-to-head consistently with Ryan Harris and the two seemed to draw the best from each other. Ebenezer Ekuban maintains at first-team tackle, but I think that coaches are resting him, giving room for Josh Mallard to continue to dominate. Defensive tackles Kenny Peterson and Marcus Thomas both are doing very well, but mostly against second-team offensive linemen.

  • The linebackers, Niko Koutouvides is back "honing," (as Horvil Tiki would say, guy) the mike position for the first-team defense. Koutouvides got beat at times in coverage and Nate Webster continued to work on his camp highlight reel, while working with the second-team defense. Boss Bailey earned cheers from fans and coaches alike and DJ Williams, replaced punter Brett Kern with offensive lineman PJ Alexander as the leader of the stretches, drawing laughs from the team. Illustrating that there are more than a handful of leaders on the defensive side.

  • In the secondary, during eleven-on-eleven scrimmages, the Broncos have started to fore go the nickel formation, keeping three linebackers in, three corner backs and one safety. That safety is Hamza Abdullah, who has been everywhere during camp and does not look at risk of losing his safety position at camp. In this formation, Dre Bly is covering the slot receiver with Champ Bailey on one side and Domonique Foxworth manning the number two receiver. Foxworth is handling the number two receiver very well and in this contract year, he may earn the extension that he expressed interest in during interviews yesterday. Rookies Josh Barrett and Jack Williams continue to do very well. Barrett shut down a run in the backfield and Williams shut down none other than Brandon Marshall, leaping to break up a pass to Marshall during eleven-on-elevens.
The Afternoon Practice will is a walk through, so don't expect a ton of exciting news. Although, keep it here, we've got some stuff for you.
photo taken by Jake Grilley © DenverBroncos.com

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