Day 13 of Denver Broncos’ Training Camp had its ups and downs. There were some dynamic plays, and there were some really sloppy plays. The story of the day was the fight between Emmanuel Sanders and Courtland Sutton, which I did not witness. According to those who were within earshot, Sanders was upset with Sutton for chastising teammates concerning mistakes and sloppiness at practice when Sutton was part of that problem. Allegedly, Sanders also told Sutton that he hasn’t proven himself in the league yet. Most of the players interviewed after practice view the matter as a non-issue.
Concerning the Sanders-Sutton altercation, Vic Fangio said, “Not good. Can’t happen. Shouldn’t happen.” When Brandon Stokley inquired further about whether the dustup was cause for long-term concern, Fangio went on to say, “I don’t think so. As you well know, being an ex-receiver, there’s a bunch of divas in there. . . . Hopefully it’s just a rare episode. If it continues, then it’s a problem.”
For the last third of practice, I had the privilege to meet and sit with the man—Nick—who has made Thin Air possible. Nick was kind enough to show me some photos from his trip to see Pat Bowlen and Champ Bailey enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I am really looking forward to his forthcoming article on his Canton experience. Andrew Mason also gave Nick a shout-out on Twitter for sporting a Ryan Clady jersey to the practice session.
Following their stretching, the Broncos worked on kick coverage and blocking and positional work. Before convening with their position group, Von Miller and Bradley Chubb went over some matters with outside linebackers coach, Brandon Staley. At this juncture of practice, Devontae Jackson, River Cracraft, Devontae Booker, and Brendan Langley all cleanly fielded kicks.
POSITIONAL GROUP PERIOD OBSERVATIONS
On one of the offense’s first positional plays, Rich Scangarello had Phillip Lindsay lined up in the slot, with Royce Freeman out wide. Freeman motioned into the backfield presnap, before Joe Flacco threw a quick bubble screen to Lindsay. . . . The wide receivers and running backs worked extensively on crossing routes. . . . I had a really good view from where I was sitting of the outside linebackers during this session. They worked on being disciplined in watching the ball pre-snap and not being fooled by a quarterback’s dummy calls and cadence. The outside linebackers also worked on maintaining the edge and being disciplined in pursuit off of play action. Finally, the outside linebackers performed some coverage drop drills. At one point, Miller had a nice one-handed stab of a pass. The crowd did not react to the play to his displeasure. Miller turned around to stare down the crowd before they obliged with a loud roar of applause. . . . The defensive backs worked on a tackling dummy while practicing the ball punch-out motion during their positional period.
RECEIVERS VERSUS DEFENSIVE BACKS IN POSITIONAL PERIOD
- In this period, the wide receivers worked against the defensive backs on routes ran from the opponent’s five-yard line.
- Isaac Yiadom batted down a slant intended for Brendan Langley.
- A ball, that was a little high, bounced off of DaeSean Hamilton’s hands on a slant.
- Kevin Hogan completed a pass to Kelvin McKnight on a scissors pattern at the front of the end zone.
- Drew Lock completed a touchdown to Trinity Benson on a slant route at the front of the end zone.
- DaeSean Hamilton caught consecutive touchdowns—one on a slant pattern and the other on a corner route. Hamilton’s route running was exceptional, particularly on the second touchdown.
- McKnight made a beautiful catch in the back corner of the end zone on a scissors route.
- Courtland Sutton caught on touchdown on a slant in the end zone which he punctuated by slamming the ball over the goal posts.
- Lock made a very nice throw by placing the ball low in a spot that only River Cracraft could get to on a touchdown at the front of the end zone.
11-ON-11 TEAM PERIOD
- According to The Denver Post‘s Ryan O’Halloran, the Broncos ran 90 11-on-11 plays yesterday. Joe Flacco had 42 snaps, Drew Lock had 28, and Kevin Hogan and Brett Rypien both had 10 snaps apiece.
- The Broncos ran a pin-and-pull play to Royce Freeman for a couple of yards. The nose tackle lined up in a 0 Technique on this play.
- Phillip Lindsay had a nice gain on a power play where Dalton Risner pulled. The nose tackle was again lined in a 0 Technique on this play. I noticed that Keishawn Bierria and Josh Watson received first team snaps at inside linebacker on this play.
- The Broncos ran an outside zone to Lindsay. This time, the nose tackle was lined up in a 1 Technique or Shade.
- Joe Flacco completed a short out route to River Cracraft.
- The Broncos ran an inside zone play to Devontae Booker for minimal gain. The nose tackle was lined up in a 1 Technique on this play.
- Freeman’s number was called on an angle block play for a couple of yards, with the nose tackle aligned at the 0 Technique.
- This had the makings of a great play. Kevin Hogan ran a deceptively good play fake of an outside zone, and then dropped a dime over coverage to Juwann Winfree who dropped the ball as he dove for the catch.
- A shotgun snap by Austin Schlottmann sailed over Kevin Hogan’s head. Hogan was able to recover the ball, however.
- Flacco had a good play action fake, and then zipped a perfect throw to Sutton on a crossing route.
- Flacco faked an outside zone run, with Sanders being unaccounted for behind the line of scrimmage, which allowed him to get open down the sideline for a completion.
- Flacco dumped off a short pass to Freeman in the flat.
- Lindsay with a gap run up the middle for a decent gain.
- Lock play action faked an outside zone run with a roll out bootleg before completing a pass to Austin Fort.
- Theo Riddick had a short gain on an inside zone run.
- The Broncos pulled a guard on a power play that Khalfani Muhammad found a crease on up the middle.
- Dave Williams had a short gain on an ISO run.
- Lock sailed a throw out-of-bounds to Nick Williams.
- Lock completed a throw to Devontae Jackson. Before the play, Jackson motioned out wide before running a crossing pattern.
- Hogan completed a nice pitch-and-catch to Riddick on a running back choice route.
- Troy Fumagalli dropped a very catchable pass on a slant route.
- Following Fumagalli’s drop, Vic Fangio huddled the team up around 10:33 a.m. MDT.
- After huddling up, the Broncos began running plays from deep inside their own terrority.
- From the two-yard line and in an I-formation, the Broncos ran a gap run to Khalfani Muhammad for a ten-yard gain.
- In a five-wide set, Lock would have been sacked by Dekoda Watson, as he powered his way past Elijah Wilkinson.
- From the five-yard line, Lock was flanked by Riddick and Freeman. Lock threw a crossing route that that should have been intercepted by De’vante Bausby. Bausby showed contrition by doing pushups.
- From the two-yard line, Flacco motioned Fort in to be the fullback before completing a throw on a passing route. Bradley Chubb provided pressure on the play.
- From the five-yard line, Flacco connected with Freeman on a tunnel screen for a good gain.
- From the two-yard line, Brett Rypien motioned Jackson out wide. This play stood no chance, as the pocket collapsed and Rypien fell down.
- From under the center, the Broncos were in a tightside weakside bunch formation. Rypien motioned one of the receivers to the other side before Booker had a gap run for a minimal gain.
- From the shotgun, Rypien had a very good throw and completion to Fred Brown on an out route.
11-ON-11 RED ZONE WORK
- From the shotgun, Flacco motioned Noah Fant to his side, with Theo Riddick already lined up to Flacco’s other side. Flacco thought that Riddick was coming open on a slant, but Kareem Jackson swooped in for what would have been a pick-six.
- From under center, the Broncos ran an inside zone play to Freeman for a minimal gain.
- Flacco lined up in the shotgun, but my view was obstructed on this play by some fans who stood up to leave.
- From under center, the Broncos attempted a wide zone run to Dave Williams, which was dissected and closed on quickly by A.J. Johnson.
- From under center, Hogan motioned out Booker to the slot. Following the snap, Booker meander his way towards the guard and center like he was going to receive a shovel pass. He kept running through that opening towards the sideline at a diagonal before Hogan found him for a completion. This was a really creative play design.
- From the shotgun, the Broncos ran an inside zone to Muhammad who showed great vision to get to the goal line.
- From under center, Lock play faked an outside zone run, before hitting Fort on a tight screen on the formation’s backside. This was another well-executed play. Lock needed to be a bit quicker getting the ball out, as the blocks were well setup, and you never know when officials will call linemen for being ineligible down field.
- From the shotgun, Lock poorly underthrew a pass intended for Fort in the back of the end zone, which was intercepted by Trey Johnson.
- From the shotgun, Flacco threw out of bounds. The defensive formation on this play was interesting, as Derek Wolfe was lined up as a 0 Technique nose guard and Miller and Chubb were both standing up on the edge.
- From the shotgun, Flacco drew Chubb offside. With a free play, Flacco hit Sutton in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Sutton had his second dunk of the day through the goal posts following the play.
- From the shotgun, Lock overthrew to his right side of the end zone.
The Broncos followed the extension 11-on-11 work with some fielding of punts. Brendan Langley started out with a muff. Muhammad, Jackson, Williams, and the Langley all cleanly fielded the remaining repetitions.
- Flacco hit Hamilton on a shallow curl over the middle of the field.
- Flacco hit Sanders down the seam.
- Flacco found Tim Patrick, who had a nice stab in the back of the end zone.
- Flacco overthrew Sutton in the back corner of the end zone.
- Justin Simmons almost intercepted Drew Lock on a seam route.
- Lock overthrew a pass to the corner of the end zone, which was not a bad thing considering how tight the coverage was on the play.
- Lock had a good throw to Steven Dunbar, Jr., in which Lock threaded the ball into very tight coverage displayed by Isaac Yiadom.
CROWD NOISE SIMULATION 11-ON-11 PHASE
- Before this phase, Fangio huddled the team up again for a discussion.
- The Broncos ran an outside zone play to Riddick for a small gain.
- From the shotgun, Flacco found Booker coming out of the slot on a slant pattern.
- From the shotgun, Flacco completed an out route.
- From under center, Flacco play faked to Freeman and slightly overthrew Sanders incomplete.
- From the shotgun, Flacco tossed the ball to Lindsay who had a nice run on a cut back.
- From the shotgun, Flacco had bunched receivers to his right before Riddick motioned in. This cleared space for Riddick to become open on the formation’s weak side for a 30-yard reception.
- From under center, Rypien play faked to Booker and had a really poorly underthrown pass on a deep route down the sideline.
- From the shotgun, Booker had a minimal gain on a gap run.
- From the shotgun, Jackson had a decent gainer on a draw play.
- From under center, the Broncos called Dave Williams’ number again for a short gain on an outside zone run.
- From under center, Muhammad received the handoff and obtained decent yardage on a counter.
- Lock connected with Langley on an out route.
- From the shotgun, Lock hit Winfree on a deep out route.
- Lindsay had a nice run on a pin-and-pull play.
- From the shotgun, Flacco connected with Fant on a tight end screen.
MORE PUNT WORK
- In this phase, all called back to return punts—Kelvin McKnight, River Cracraft, Devontae Jackson, Nick Williams, Trinity Benson, and Brendan Langley—fielded them cleanly.
- Jackson did misjudge one punt, which would have been somewhat costly in a game, as the ball bounced deep into Broncos’ territory.
TWO MINUTE 11-ON-11 WORK
- The Broncos ran an outside zone play.
- Flacco connected with Lindsay on a tunnel screen.
- From the shotgun, Flacco would have been sandwich sacked by Miller and Chubb.
- From the shotgun, Flacco hit Booker in the short flat.
- The Broncos then ran an angle block play that took them into field goal position.
- From the shotgun, Hogan had to fall on a low snap by Schlottmann.
- From the shotgun, Hogan hit McKnight on an out route.
- The Broncos ran another pin-and-pull play to Lindsay for a good gain.
- Freeman followed up with a short reception.
- From the shotgun, Flacco hit Riddick on a choice route on two consecutive plays.
- Lock short armed a throw that was still somewhat catchable to Dave Williams which was dropped.
- Muhammad had a decent run on an ISO play with the fullback lead blocking.
- Johnson broke up a Lock throw to Cracraft on a slant.
11-ON-11 WORK FROM THE FIVE-YARD LINE
- I am fairly certain that on this play, the Broncos ran a direct snap to Fort who then pitched the ball to Flacco, who ran for three yards.
- From the shotgun, Flacco hit Patrick right at the front of the goal line.
- From the shotgun, Flacco handed off to Lindsay on a duo run for a touchdown.
- From the shotgun, Flacco hit Hamilton on a curl.
- From the shotgun, Flacco found Booker for a short gain on a crosser.
- From the shotgun, Flacco connected with Hamilton again on a curl.
- From the shotgun, Flacco once again completed a curl pattern to Hamilton.
- From the shotgun, Flacco hit Booker on an arrow route.
- From the shotgun, Flacco slightly overthrew Lindsay on a deep crosser that went off of Lindsay’s fingertips and ended up being Kareem Jackson’s second INT on the day. This was still a catchable ball and would have been another pick-six in a game.
- From the shotgun, Lock connected with Winfree on a curl.
- From the shotgun, Lock completed a through to McKnight on another curl.
- With Lock at quarterback, a completion to Fumagalli was negated due to an illegal formation.
- From the shotgun, Lock completed a short pass to Muhammad.
- From the shotgun, Lock and McKnight connected on a deep out.
- From the shotgun, Lock would have been sacked under game conditions.
- From the shotgun, Lock placed a ball perfectly to Cracraft in the middle of the field and in a spot that only the receiver could get to.
- From the shotgun, Lock went back to Cracraft on an option route, but the pass fell incomplete.
- On the final play of practice, Jackson motioned out wide from the backfield. Lock attempted to hit Jackson on a slant that was broken up by A.J. Johnson.
FINAL THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
Most days, it appears that Fangio is taking advantage of every minute given to him for on-field instruction and practice. The Broncos went just about the noon hour after starting promptly at 9:15 a.m. MDT. In previous camps that I have attended under John Fox, Gary Kubiak, and Vance Joseph, the Broncos almost always ended practice early or very early. . . . Shelby Harris is listed at 290 pounds. To me, he currently looks closer to 305 to 310 pounds. . . . DeMarcus Walker also looks much bigger in person this season as compared to past training camps. Walker claims to currently weigh 296 pounds. . . . Bill Kollar must be a butt man, because I could hear him working with the defensive linemen, where he repeatedly said, “get down to where we can see that big ass.” . . . When not throwing punches or water bottles, Sanders looked really good in his short area quickness, cutting, and striding. . . . The inside linebacker group is getting very thin. I think that it may finally be time to starting working out some veterans at that position. . . . Is there any doubt why Von Miller is such a fan favorite? You can see the back of me at the beginning of this video. . . . We again saw the running backs featured heavily as pass catchers, as well as a diverse set of running plays. . . . You have to feel awful for Jake Butt, who missed another practice. Nicki Jhabvala and Ryan O’Halloran both wrote salient stories on his plight. . . . I still have no idea who the punt and kickoff returners will be come September. . . . I wish that I had asked to take a “father and son” photo with the guy who was wearing a Christian McCaffrey jersey at practice since I decided to wear my Ed McCaffrey jersey.