TRAINING CAMP 2022
Jerry Jeudy’s best day, a possible CB injury highlight Broncos camp Day 4
Jul 30, 2022, 2:53 PM
(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
The Denver Broncos put on a show for the crowd at UC Health Training Center. This was a free-but-ticketed event, and over 7,000 fans watched the Broncos on a sunny-but-not-too-hot day. Some reports indicate this was the largest crowd at training camp (non-stadium practice) in franchise history, and I know the place looked packed over where the fans sit on the hill.
The team went light on Friday only to ramp things up on Saturday. For the first time, the Broncos were in shells and things were just a tad more physical out there.
Here are some of my notes from the fourth day of training camp.
Jerry Jeudy Shines
When the pads (kind of) came on, Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy had his best day of camp. For three days, I’ve seen Jeudy make some crucial mistakes. On day one, Jeudy had a pass ripped away in the end zone. On day two, Jeudy dropped a pass that would have moved the chains. On day three, I only saw Jeudy catch three passes in team drills (that’s not a mistake, but it shows how he wasn’t used very much).
Saturday was Jeudy’s day. He’s not lost the trust of his quarterback, and Jeudy showed great concentration hauling in passes that were in extremely tight windows. He can get open, he’s got moves after the catch, and if Jeudy gains more confidence then he could have the breakout year many are forecasting for him. We haven’t seen much yet, and I hesitate to call Jeudy a ‘gamer’ but when the shells came on he did perform better.
Quarterback Russell Wilson was not known for utilizing his running backs as receivers out of the backfield during his career with the Seattle Seahawks. As Shawn Drotar has noted on the air, Wilson combined targets for his first and second running backs was on average 58 times per year. That’s not a lot, especially considering the pass-happy nature of today’s game and how backs can create instant mismatches as receiving threats.
I believe the Broncos will throw to their running backs a bit more, but my favorite route for backs – the Texas route – is not part of this West Coast offense. A Texas route is great because a back moves to the outside, gets the linebacker covering him to commit to the outside, then he quickly breaks it back inside to the middle of the field. This Broncos offense is working the middle of the field, but the tight ends are mostly doing the damage there and not the running backs. As training camp rolls on and the preseason gets here, it will be interesting to see how these backs continue to get utilized out of the backfield.
At the end of practice, cornerback K’Wuan Williams pulled up on a deep touchdown to rookie wide receiver Montrell Washington (more on him in a bit). Reports indicate Williams is getting an MRI, and we’ll know more about his situation when results are made public (or leak to the public). Williams is arguably the best slot corner in today’s game when healthy, so he is clearly and important piece of the Broncos defense.
While Williams is banged up, another player might be getting healthier and that’s rookie tight end Greg Dulcich. For the first four days of training camp, Dulcich has been working on the side field recovering from the hamstring injury he suffered this offseason. However, on Saturday Dulcich was able to participate in a light walkthrough near the end of practice. Wilson has made the tight ends star performers in practice, so the potential is there for Dulcich to be a weapon when he’s healthy. It looks like the team is easing him back while monitoring how his body responds to more work.
Speaking of rookie wide receiver Montrell Washington, it looks like the team has a plan in place for the small school star. Drafted in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL draft, much to my chagrin, Washington was selected to be a dangerous return man. It was obvious on film that Washington could make plays as a returner just like he did in Division II, but at the time I preferred other players (mostly big corners) left on the board.
Seeing Washington at field level, his speed is breathtaking. He can get to top speed in a hurry, and he doesn’t lose much speed when he changes direction. I’m not saying Washington is making a believer out of me, as someone who would’ve drafted him later, but I do understand the fit the Broncos are going for. In addition to what he does on special teams, Washington is also playing the “K.J. Hamler role” on offense. There are some packages of plays that look like they’re designed for the speedy rookie. When Hamler is healthy, those will be his looks but it’s good to see Washington perform well when asked to on offense.
One of the best moves made this offseason by the Broncos, not including the trade for Wilson, was the free agent signing of defensive lineman D.J. Jones. A sixth-round pick out of Ole Miss in the 2017 NFL draft, Jones made a name for himself with the San Francisco 49ers. Not only did he start for the 49ers, but Jones became one of their most important defenders on a unit that was known to be near the top of the league.
Jones signed with the Broncos this offseason, and he’s been everything and more you’d want from a player at his position. In fact, Jones is not just a run-stuffing defensive tackle as some thought when he was signed. I saw from film study – and everyone at camp sees it now – that Jones can get interior pressure regularly. Quarterbacks in today’s game can deal with outside pressure, but interior pressure makes even the best seem mortal. Jones is here to stuff the run when the Broncos drop eight into coverage, but when tasked with rushing the passer he can be one of the most disruptive players on this defense.