After a short rain delay, the Broncos were back on the field Wednesday, focusing on the passing attack during the evening practice at Dove Valley. A new face donned the field - freshly signed running back LenDale White. Among the notable inactives were D.J. Williams, Daniel Graham, Ronald Fields, and Brian Dawkins. A few others players with previously existing injuries also sat out.
After braving rain and even some hail while waiting in line for the gates to open for practice, Bronco fans did get in about a half hour later than scheduled. They were not disappointed as the Broncos practice was again exciting. Below is a short review of today's evening practice:
OLB Elvis Dumervil injury?
Early on, Dumervil was participating in drills, but left the practice early holding his right arm. The severity of the injury is not yet know; Head Coach Josh McDaniels didn't comment on the subject.
Running back Kolby Smith cut
A day after being heavly criticised by coaches for not running hard enough, Kolby Smith was cut. The move came to clear a roster spot for LenDale White who just signed with the team, and was on the field during the p.m. practice. The Broncos' rushing attack suffered last season in short yardage situations; known as a power back, White can help Denver on short yardage downs. If he stays out of trouble, White's chances of making the team and seeing playing time this season are favorable.
Excessive use of screen plays
During offense vs defense and 7-on-7 (seven offensive skill players against 7 defensive backs and linebackers), the offense ran a heavy amount of screen plays. Both running backs and receivers were the targets, with as many as 3 offensive lineman charging down field as blockers. Using screens with a good mix of comebacks, slants, and outs, the receivers found themselves in the clear multiple times. It was hard to tell if the defensive coverage was lacking, or the if the offense was executing to perfection. Knowing McDaniels' offensive genius, and that Brian Dawkins wasn't participating, most likely it was a case of both.
Eric Decker shows off his hands
I've yet to see rookie wide receiver Eric Decker flat out drop a pass, unlike many of the other receivers. Throughout practice, Decker displayed athleticism, from running crisp routes to diving for a touchdown catch thrown from Tebow during a 7-on-7 session. Fellow rookie Demaryius Thomas also made some big plays, but they were balanced out by his mistakes. Against cornerback Tony Carter, Thomas caught a touchdown shortly before he lept over Champ Bailey to snatch a Tebow pass and take it in for a score. It was discouraging to see Thomas drop a few easy passes, especially because he was a first round selection. Wide out Jabar Gaffney, much like Thomas, uncharacteristically dropped sould-have-been catches. Perhaps the balls were extra slick from the wet grass, causing more dropped passes than usual. At any rate the receivers' hands need to improve, save Decker's and Matt Willis's who both continue to impress with their drive and athletic ability.
Champ Bailey frustrates receivers
Young Eddie Royal, veteran Jabar Gaffney, and raw rookie D-Thomas all have something in common - they struggle against All-Pro Cornerback Champ Bailey. All the receivers had a hard time when matching up against Bailey, it was a very rare site to see a big play made against the Champ.
Starting Kyle Orton started out poorly in 7-on-7 drills, only to get back on track after a few plays. During the teams 3rd down situation drills Kyle was 5-of-6, he seemed to have complete control of the offense and a thorough knowledge of the playbook. Current second stringer Brady Quinn had the tightest spiral of the three quarterbacks, hitting receivers in the numbers. A few of Quinn's passes were off, as well as some of Tebow's. Rookie Tim Tebow overcame some errant passes to ultimately get many cheers of ohhs and ahhs. At one point during a offensive vs defensive session, Tebow escaped from the pocket and threw a 40-some yard pass on the run to Matt Willis, who came down with it for a touchdown. This is what I drew from the practice: Orton has vastly improved from last year, and now knows the offense like the back of his hand . . . Brady Quinn has lots of potential in his arm, but needs to prove consistency . . . Tim Tebow's highs outweigh his lows, he also has uncountable adoring fans.
Field goal blocking drills
Statistics show that when a team blocks a punt or field goal, it drastically increases the odds of that team winning the football game. Weather or not the Broncos have taken notice of that, the team practiced field goal blocking towards the end of practice.
Not a real rough day
After a strenuous scrimmage-like morning practice, the Broncos toned it down for the evening practice. The main chunk of practice consisted of basic drills, route running, and 7-on-7 plays. The easier than usual practice may have been due to not wanting to risk unjury to the players, while yielding to the pleas of the field staff that practicing on a wet field would destroy it. The practice fields were wet, but held up very well under the conditions.
Much more to come! We'll have coverage again tomorrow of the Broncos afternoon practice so be sure to check back! View some photos of todays' practice on our facebook page!