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Broncos Team Report Aug 3, 2009
Broncos Team Report
Aug 3, 4:21 am EDT
When the Denver Broncos rookies reported to training camp, running back Knowshon Moreno and linebacker Robert Ayers weren’t with them as they remained unsigned.
That wasn’t a huge problem for the Broncos, but it started becoming one four days later when the full squad took the field for training camp practices and the first-round picks were still holdouts.
Moreno and Ayers are both considered good bets to start right away, but fall behind with every practice they miss. Each day the Broncos go through installation, and they can’t go back and do it all again when Ayers and Moreno get to camp.
“I am not going to get frustrated with the process,” McDaniels said to a question regarding Ayers. “We have got a lot of things to work on with the players that are out here. Hopefully, it is done very soon, and when it is done, we look forward to getting him in here and trying to play catch-up.”
What has happened during the rookies’ absence is veterans are getting more repetitions and some are taking advantage. LaMont Jordan and Correll Buckhalter are splitting first-team reps at tailback, usually with Jordan going in first.
“This offseason I put in the work to hopefully be in my best,” said Jordan, who lost 20 pounds in the offseason and weighed in at 228 pounds, the lightest of his career. “It’s a great opportunity.”
Jordan and Buckhalter were ahead of Moreno during all the offseason practices, so perhaps the players gaining the most from Moreno’s absence are Peyton Hillis and Ryan Torain. Hillis was penciled in at fullback but is getting a lot of time at tailback in single-back sets. Torain, who is coming off a knee injury, looked healthy and strong in the first couple days of camp.
At outside linebacker, Darrell Reid and Elvis Dumervil were the starters as Ayers held out. Both are transitioning from defensive line to outside linebacker and can use the extra practice time. Ayers had taken one of the starting outside linebacker spots by the end of offseason practices.
Camp Calendar: Broncos camp begins in full on July 31, when veterans have their first practice, and ends on Aug. 20. On July 27, rookies will report to training camp. The Broncos will also practice twice at Invesco Field at Mile High, for the public on Aug. 6 and again on Aug. 10.
• Jarvis Moss, a 2007 first-round pick who is transitioning from defensive end to outside linebacker, left training camp and was considering retirement. His teammates were surprised, although close friends like former college teammate Marcus Thomas were trying to convince him to come back.
“I think he’s going to think it over and do what’s best for him,” outside linebacker Tim Crowder said.
• Fullback Peyton Hillis hit teammate Tim Crowder so hard in a 1-on-1 tackling drill that Hillis felt bad afterwards and apologized. Crowder was down for a few moments with a stinger.
“It hurts me to see a guy laying there, it breaks my heart because you never know what’s going to happen, you never know what kind of injury a guy has,” Hillis said. “I’m glad he came up all right.”
• Players have to run laps in practice for mistakes like fumbled quarterback-center exchanges. The entire scout team defense had to do a lap when only 10 of them were in the huddle. Coaching assistant Jay Rodgers had to run with the players.
• Cornerback Champ Bailey, safety Renaldo Hill and defensive tackle Marcus Thomas spent the first day of training camp on the physically unable to perform list, apparently the result of a failed conditioning test. They were back after some extra conditioning the first day of practice.
“We used precaution,” Bailey said. “Use a day to kind of condition a bit, get in shape a little better, then get out there.”
• Josh McDaniels has copied plenty from the Patriots, where he was offensive coordinator the past couple seasons, including the tight-lipped response to any injuries, even minor injuries the first few days of training camp.
“I’m not talking about injuries,” McDaniels said. “That’s just going to be the policy all year. So that’s it.”
Quote To Note: “I think early in camp it’s good to do that because you certainly don’t want to go into your first game not having tackled somebody or been tackled.” - Broncos coach Josh McDaniels on running 1-on-1 live tackling drills during camp.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
• LB Mario Haggan, who was used mostly in the middle last season, is working with the second-team defense at outside linebacker in the new 3-4 scheme.
• DE Ryan McBean is Denver’s starting left defensive end at the start of training camp. Kenny Peterson is the right end. The two have one combined NFL start, by Peterson.
• CB Andre Goodman looked good early in camp, picking off a couple of passes. He said he likes the scheme because it allows him to play off a bit and react to passes.
• LB Wesley Woodyard continues to play inside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme. He and D.J. Williams have been the linebackers in the nickel packages.
• WR Brandon Stokley isn’t guaranteed a role on this year’s team with Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal as the starters and Jabar Gaffney getting a $10 million deal in the offseason. But Stokley has looked good in camp, getting open and making plenty of catches.
Battle Of The Week: CBs Jack Williams vs. Alphonso Smith for nickel back - Williams was a fourth-round pick last year who had a good preseason, then faded as the season wore on. Smith is the favorite to win the nickel spot, considering the team traded a 2010 first-round pick to draft him in the second round, but Williams has been holding him off all offseason and at the beginning of camp.
Other Battle Fronts: Eddie Royal and Alphonso Smith appear to be the only two candidates to return punts for the Broncos this season. … Darrell Reid and Elvis Dumervil are the outside linebackers with the starting defense while Robert Ayers holds out. … LaMont Jordan and Correll Buckhalter are splitting first-team reps at tailback. Knowshon Moreno is holding out.
Player Of The Week: RB Peyton Hillis - Hillis made a strong impression when pressed into tailback duty last season, but was put back at fullback by the new coaching staff. However, Hillis is making an impression again. His reps at tailback have been increasing in one-back sets and he is running hard, like he did last year before a hamstring injury ended his season. Hillis is a great athlete who can run, catch and block well, and he will have a role on this team.
Rookie Report: RB Knowshon Moreno and LB Robert Ayers were holdouts the first few days of camp. … CB Alphonso Smith is one of the favorites to return punts this season, and might also end up returning kickoffs. … S Darcel McBath spent the first day with the starting defense because Renaldo Hill began camp on the PUP. McBath has impressed the coaches with his versatility. … G Seth Olson has been taking second-team reps at right guard. … S David Bruton has been with the second-team defense, but his main role as a rookie will be on special teams. … WR Kenny McKinley has impressed with his quickness.
DE Nic Clemons(notes) suffered what appeared to be a left knee injury on Aug. 1, but the team said it wasn’t as serious as first feared.
WR Brandon Marshall is still working back from offseason hip surgery. He has been given a few practices off, and limped off the field on Aug. 2.