Saturday, July 26, 2008

Training Camp: Day 2 (Afternoon Report)

The afternoon practice focused on special teams, last year there tended to not be a lot of focus on special teams. Did we even have special teams last year?

Out are Jason Elam, Todd Sauerbrun and kick returner (now Super Bowl ring owner) Dominik Hixon. Returning is Special Teams Coordinator Scott O'Brien, for his second season with Denver. O'Brien is regarded as one of the best special teams coordinators in the NFL and was honored in 1994 as Special Teams Coach of the Year (voted on by other NFL coaches). Under O'Brien six players have earned a total of ten trips to the Pro Bowl.

So what the hell went wrong last season? I'm not sure...

Denver seems to have imploded, if you ask an average fan and it was right around the game against Chicago when the stadium caved in on itself. Are we being realistic though? How many games did special teams win for Denver last season? I'm just counting off the top of my head, but I've got at least four and five if you want to say that a field goal got us into overtime with Green Bay. "Toro!" anyone remember that call? That was the special teams hauling ass at the last minute to pound out the NFL's version of a buzzer beater.

Yes, losing Sauerbrun and Elam stings, but Sauerbrun was a scorn NFL punter and Elam was willing to leave despite Denver offering him three-million dollars this season to stay. So Denver's getting younger. Ditching Garrett Hartley, to sign some draft picks and going full-steam into the season with one unproven kicker in Matt Prater (who was five of six today).

So take a look at the depth the Broncos are most likely carrying into the season this year, there are extra linebackers, corner backs, safeties, running backs and linemen. Take a look at some of Denver's draft picks: KR/PR (second round), lineman (fourth round), corner back (fourth round), linebacker (sixth round), safety (seventh round) and fullback (seventh round). Not to mention the undrafted free agent pickups. All of those picks figure to get a lot of their playing time this season on special teams.

Now get this, we're not through with O'Brien's past accolades, three of the eleven players that have scored multiple touchdowns in an NFL game have been coached by O'Brien (Eric Metcalf, Jermaine Lewis and Steve Smith). There's more to that little tidbit, in Baltimore in 1998, under O'Brien, two different returners (Corey Harris and Patrick Johnson) scored on back-to-back returns. Let's go back to a former student of O'Brien's though, Steve Smith, anyone draw any comparisons between Smith and a new Bronco rookie kick returner? Me either, I was just asking...

Onto Day 2 afternoon notes:
  • Eddie Royal continues to impress just about everyone at all. Mike Shanahan says that, "It doesn't take long to realize that he'll become a top notch receiver as well as an excellent returner." Then Royal himself spoke, "It is great to hear that, but you always know that you have to get better," he said. "I want to be one of the best receivers in the league, one of the best to ever play the game, so I always have to work harder and harder."

  • Andre Hall scored a touchdown on one of the scoop-and-score exercises.

  • The Rocky Mountain News is reporting that veteran corner back Tyrone Poole was in this morning for a workout. Poole has not played since 2006 and played for Denver in 2002, Shanahan likes to bring on older players in camp to guide younger players along. For example, Jerry Rice retired as a Bronco.
That's it everyone, be back tomorrow with Day 3 updates. However, not done for tonight, make sure to check out Sam's finale to the 2009 Draft, which will be revisited often throughout the upcoming season.

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