I arrived to my spot at the top of the Field 2 berm a little later than usual due to massive traffic on southbound Parker Road due to summer construction work. Thankfully, I did not miss any of yesterday’s action, as I arrived just as the players were midway through stretching. The sun beaming down made it much hotter than it actually was.
There were also a lot of individuals in attendance wearing other teams’ gear, including Chiefs, Steelers, and Vikings garb. I could somewhat understand why some Vikings’ fans were in attendance with the upcoming preseason game, but the others either wanted to troll, to scout a 2018 opponent, or legitimately like any professional football that they can witness in person.
DEFENSIVE OBSERVATIONS AND THOUGHTS
The Broncos showcased various overload and all-out blitz looks. One in particular featured Justin Simmons on the right edge next to Bradley Chubb. On the play, Case Keenum eluded the heavy rush on the play to find Courtland Sutton on a quick out route.
I focused mostly on the backup cornerbacks and Josey Jewell yesterday, as Jewell did not practice at the previous training camp session that I attended. I came away impressed with Isaac Yiadom. He plays with great technique and will be a very good special teams player. . . . Jordan Moore displayed excellent coverage in breaking up a Lynch pass intended for Sutton. I also think that C.J. Smith has a real chance of making the team, especially if Tramaine Brock’s hamstring injury persists. . . . After practice, all of the cornerbacks spent time on a separate field with the JUGS machine catching would-be interceptions.
Jewell was sound. On the plays that he was in, he read his keys well and as advertised, excelled in diagnostics.
OFFENSIVE OBSERVATIONS AND THOUGHTS
The Broncos worked extensively on red zone and goal line packages today. The Broncos also lined up plenty in both shotgun and spread formations. The Broncos worked in plenty of outside and zone runs, lead draws, along with angle, gap, and power looks. The Broncos also featured various six-man and seven-man offensive line looks—a Bill Musgrave staple. The Broncos’ offense demonstrated significant motion, including splitting running backs out wide, a jet sweep, and fake jet sweep movement to fool the defense. The Broncos also focused on moving pocket plays and sprint outs by the quarterbacks.
In my humble opinion, none of the running backs have separated themselves from the pack. The preseason games will be critical in that regard. I will say that as of now, my favorite runner and receiver out of the backfield is De’Angelo Henderson.
Jeff Heuerman and Troy Fumagalli did not practice. Heuerman caught passes on a separate field from the JUGS machine.
Overall, Case Keenum had another great practice. Both Paxton Lynch and Chad Kelly had up-and-down sessions.
Keenum’s second pass of the day was deflected at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by Chris Harris. Keenum hit Demaryius Thomas with precision on an out route early in practice. Keenum showed good movement to his left to extend a play when no one was open before dumping the ball off to Devontae Booker in the flat. . . . Keenum hit River Cracraft on a beautiful seam route with Bradley Roby in coverage. Keenum and Cracraft had bad timing or miscommunication on an option route that fell incomplete. . . . On a corner route, Keenum dropped a pass in the bucket over the top of coverage to John Diarse, but Diarse allowed the pass to bounce off his hands. Diarse later atoned for his mistake in one of the Plays of the Day listed below. . . . Keenum continues to show great rapport with Sutton and Emmanuel Sanders. Keenum hit Sanders in stride on a shallow crosser and a deep slant to Sutton.
Lynch’s best throws were on a quick out route to Cracraft, where Cracraft then scooted down the sideline for a solid gain and on a deep flag route to Hamilton. Lynch’s worst throw of the day was on a deep post intended for McKenzie, where Lynch did not look off Dymonte Thomas, who was playing the deep middle. Thomas intercepted the pass with ease.
Kelly connected with Jordan Leslie on three consecutive out routes at one point of practice. Kelly had two consecutive bad throws, where he overthrew a wide-open McKenzie on a crossing route that would have gone for 50+ yards and a possible score, as well as a deep cross to Corey Brown, who was double covered.
RED ZONE WORK
Keenum’s First Red Zone Series
- On 1st down from the 20, the Broncos ran an inside zone play to Royce Freeman for a gain of ten yards.
- On 1st down from the 10, the Broncos ran a power run with Connor McGovern pulling for a gain of four yards.
- On 2nd down from the 6, the Broncos lined up in the shotgun formation. Keenum found Courtland Sutton in the corner on a jump ball. Sutton came down the ball, but was pushed out of bounds before he could establish his feet in play. Defensive pass interference was called on the play.
- Following the defensive penalty, the Broncos ran an inside angle/gap play to Booker for a touchdown.
- On 1st down from the 20, John Diarse came down with a ball slightly thrown by Keenum on a slant route.
Keenum’s Second Red Zone Series
- On 1st down from the 20, John Diarse made a great adjustment on slant route pass which was thrown a bit high. The play went for five yards.
- On 2nd down from the 15, the Broncos ran an inside gap/angle blocked running play to Booker for five yards.
- On 1st down inside the 10, Keenum hit Freeman for two yards on a swing pass.
- On 2nd down, Keenum threaded the needle to find a blanketed Cracraft, who fought off Chris Harris in the back of the end zone for a touchdown.
Lynch’s First Red Zone Series
- On 1st down from the 20, the Broncos ran an outside zone play to De’Angelo Henderson for a gain of nine yards.
- On 1st down from the 9, the Broncos ran an outside zone play to Phillip Lindsay, who would have been stopped for a minimal gain in a real game.
- On 2nd down, the Broncos ran an inside handoff from a shotgun/spread formation to Dave Williams for a gain of six yards.
- On 3rd down from the spread formation, the Broncos motioned the running back out of the backfield. Lynch found DaeSean Hamilton on a quick out for what may have gone for a touchdown in a real game.
Lynch’s Second Red Zone Series
- On 1st down from the 20, the Broncos ran an outside zone play to Booker for five yards.
- On second down from the 15, the Broncos called another halfback screen pass to Henderson. The play was there to be made, but Lynch overthrew the intended receiver.
- On the next play, Lynch had Austin Traylor open on a seam route in the end zone, but the passed sailed over Traylor’s head.
- On Lynch’s final play, he attempted to connect with Brown, but the pass was broken up a defensive back.
Kelly’s First Red Zone Series
- On 1st down from the 20, the Broncos ran a slow halfback screen to Henderson. The play went for 12 yards. It more than likely goes for a touchdown, if Kelly had allowed the play to set up better.
- On 1st down from the 8, the Broncos called Lindsay’s number for an outside zone run which gained four yards.
- On 2nd down, Kelly’s pass to Philly Brown on a slant route was broken up.
- On 3rd down, the Broncos went five wide again by motioning the running back out wide. Kelly took the snap from shotgun and ran for a touchdown on a quarterback draw play (2:15:00 of the video clip).
Kelly’s Second Red Zone Series
- On 1st down from the 20, Kelly looked off the safeties to connect with a wide open McKenzie in the end zone for a touchdown. The pass was a bit high, but McKenzie was so wide open, it did not matter.
- On Kelly’s next play, he expertly set up a middle screen pass to Lindsay for a gain of ten yards.
- From the ten-yard line, the Broncos then ran a power play to Freeman with J.J. Dielman pulling from a guard spot for four yards.
- On Kelly’s last play, C.J. Smith broke up an out route intended for Brown.
GOAL LINE WORK
- From the two-yard line, the Broncos called an angle/gap middle run.
- From the one-yard line, the Broncos ran an inside zone play.
- From the two-yard line, the Broncos ran a fake outside run, with Keenum booting to the opposite side where he found Traylor in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown.
- From the two-yard line, the Broncos ran another angle/gap play up the middle.
- From the one-yard line, the Broncos ran an outside zone play with Andy Janovich lead blocking.
- From the two-yard line, the Broncos faked an inside zone run, with Lynch rolling playside for a short touchdown flip to Brian Parker.
- From the two-yard line, the Broncos ran an angle/gap block up the middle.
- From the one-yard line, the Broncos then ran two consecutive inside zone plays.
- From the two-yard line, the Broncos ran an outside zone play.
- From the two-yard line, the Broncos ran a power play to Booker with Ron Leary pulling and Janovich blocking behind Leary through the gap.
- From the two-yard line, Keenum made his worst decision of the day. He rolled right and threw across is body and almost had the ball intercepted by Zach Kerr who had dropped into coverage.
- From the two-yard line, Lynch threw a jump ball to McKenzie in the back corner of the end zone. McKenzie almost came down with the pass, but throwing jump balls to the smallest player on roster is an odd call. Let’s hope that was miscommunication and/or not in the actual playbook.
- From the two-yard line, the Broncos called a fake lead draw, with a slant to Jake Butt. The ball fell incomplete, but defensive pass interference was called on the play.
- The Broncos concluded goal line work from the two-yard line with a power run, where Jeremiah Poutasi pulled from a guard spot.
SPECIAL TEAMS OBSERVATIONS AND THOUGHTS
The Broncos worked exclusively on the punt return game on Thursday. McKenzie fielded over ten punts cleanly with no muffs. Lindsay let one punt bounce, which touched him and was recovered by the kicking team. Hamilton fielded seven punts cleanly with one muff. Cracraft fielded all six punts cleanly. Tim Patrick caught two punts with no muffs. McKenzie, Lindsay, and Hamilton all stayed well after practice to field additional punts. As of now, McKenzie looks like the best punt returner, but again, McKenzie needs to cleanly field punts in actual regular season games to see if his butterfingers are a thing of the past.
Tom McMahon also had his special teams unit working on keeping the ball out of the end zone on punts. This included work with a kick or dodge ball. McMahon brings a controlled, tempered energy.
PLAYS OF THE DAY
- With jet sweep motion which distracted the defense, Keenum found John Diarse down the seam on a perfectly thrown ball for a fifty-yard touchdown.
- Keenum’s seam route connection to Cracraft.
- Harris’s interception of a Keenum pass deflected at the line of scrimmage.