Broncos Training Camp Day 5 Report: With offense struggling, Wilson hits reset button
Aug 1, 2022, 6:37 PM
(Photo by Andrew Mason / DenverFan.com)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Nathaniel Hackett wasn’t happy. And neither was Russell Wilson.
The first team period of Monday’s training-camp practice was over. And in the second team period, the offense looked to still be on its day off.
- Two attempts from Wilson to Courtland Sutton fell incomplete, as they tested Pat Surtain. Surtain won both times, leading some defensive players within earshot to openly wonder why the offense kept throwing at Surtain.
- A Josh Johnson attempt across the middle to Montrell Washington was a worm-burner incompletion.
- Bradley Chubb blew off the edge to defuse a handoff to Melvin Gordon just as he received the ball, giving Gordon no chance.
- Dre’Mont Jones defused another run play, bursting past Quinn Meinerz and into the backfield.
- Even completions were adventurous. Wilson hit tight end Eric Tomlinson for a 10-yard connection, but the pass led him too far. Toml
- A Wilson play-action pass went askew when Jones and McTelvin Agim didn’t bite on the play-fake, surging into the backfield.
- Finally, right tackle Cameron Fleming, working with the No. 2 offensive line, committed a false-start penalty.
“We’ve got to get started faster,” left guard Dalton Risner said. “I think going out there at practice today, it took us a while to get going.
“That’s not championship football. We’ve got to get rolling.”
After the Fleming penalty, the Broncos didn’t even re-set for the third-and-6 play they had planned. They moved on to the next series, with the first team back on the field.
“Lack of focus,” Hackett said. “Hopefully they can take from this day and learn why it happened. Why weren’t they focused as a group? Because I know they work so hard. I know they know it.”
But nearly an hour of practice still remained.
That’s when Russell Wilson stepped up. He gathered the No. 1 offense, then motioned for every player on offense to join him in a huddle.
Wilson didn’t verbally eviscerate the team into oblivion. But he did make it clear: The work wasn’t acceptable.
“He said we’ve got to get going,” Risner said. “In that situation, we were down 14 points.
“All these different situations, right, it’s just coaches doing a great job of putting us in different scenarios of how much we’re down, how quickly we’ve gotta score, and what yardage we’ve gotta get, and in that situation, we were down 14, and he said, ‘This is where we’ve gotta roll.'”
And just like that, Wilson morphed into exactly how tight end Eric Saubert described him last week.
“He’s definitely another coach on the field,” Saubert said then. “He’s very clear and calm about what he expects and what he wants, and he’s done it before, so he knows exactly what he wants, and he’s very clear with that.”
And it was clear that “Coach” Wilson, whose fingerprints are imprinted on the Broncos’ new offensive scheme, wasn’t happy.
IT GOT BETTER FOR THE OFFENSE, BUT STRUGGLES STILL EVIDENT …
The first play after Wilson called together the unit was one of the best of the day. Wilson motioned to Melvin Gordon, then handed the football to Javonte Williams, who galloped behind blocks from Risner and Garett Bolles for a solid gain to the left side.
The next two plays saw Wilson target Jerry Jeudy. On the first, Josey Jewell lunged to break up a pass, but on the second, Wilson hit Jeudy in front of Surtain at the sticks for a third-and-5 conversion.
A subsequent red-zone period provided more reason for optimism, in the form of back-to-back Wilson touchdown passes — one to Sutton and another to Jeudy, who took advantage of an apparent mix-up in coverage.
“[Hackett] said we started slow but finished strong at the end. That’s good,” Risner said.
PLAY OF THE DAY:
After Surtain foiled two failed Wilson-to-Sutton attempts, the third time was the charm. Sutton got a jump on Surtain off the snap, and Wilson lofted a perfect pass to Sutton, who got under it in the back left corner of the end zone for a touchdown.
IT FELT LIKE THE REGULAR SEASON …
… at least when it came to the defensive backs jockeying the officials.
On a third-and-goal play from the 5-yard line, QB Brett Rypien looked for Trey Quinn in the back of the end zone. The pass sailed incomplete, but the official in the end zone called pass interference. Contact appeared minimal, and Simmons and the defense protested vociferously.
A short while later, safety Justin Simmons looked back on the exchange with a smile.
“I didn’t really see it full and through,” he said. “I just like to argue.”
Added Simmons a moment later: “I was just having fun. You’re out here, and the refs know we like to give them a hard time — especially before practice starts. We always tell them that 81 [Tim Patrick] and 14 [Sutton] push off a lot. But then by the time the season comes, they’ve got it down; they don’t have to call it anymore.”
There was a time when Simmons wasn’t quite as vocal. Then, Kareem Jackson arrived.
“You’ve got to practice everything. You can’t take any plays off; you can’t take any dialogue off, and I think the biggest problem here is Kareem’s rubbed off on me over the years,” Simmons said.
“I used to be quiet and shake my head and be like, ‘That was a bad call’ to myself, but now I’m getting up, walking over to the ref, trying to hear his argument on the call. Kareem’s telling him he gets no lunch today [at the team cafeteria]. It’s all good.”
- The Broncos worked in shorts and shells Monday. They will have their first full-pad practice Tuesday morning — and at that point, everything changes, starting up front. “Just the contact at the line. The protection looks different; the run game looks different; the play passes look different,” Hackett said. “Everything looks different when the pads are on.”
- TE Eric Tomlinson had a nice catch early in practice, reaching out to haul in a Wilson pass that was out in front of him for a 10-yard gain.
- OLB Baron Browning continued generating pressure. During one team-period repetition, he whipped off the left edge and had Josh Johnson in his sights for a blind-side sack before pulling up. Browning also was part of another potential sack in a goal-to-go period; pressure from him and defensive linemen Jonathan Harris and Matt Henningsen forced Johnson into what could have been a sack in game conditions.
- ILB Alex Singleton had a good day, punctuated by a burst into the backfield to blow up a handoff to RB Mike Boone midway through the team periods of practice.
- WR Brandon Johnson had multiple receptions, including a catch down the middle from Brett Rypien and a touchdown reception in the red-zone period. Johnson reached out and hauled in the pass, just managing to get both feet down in-bounds.
- John Elway attended the practice.
- WR KJ Hamler practiced for the first time this summer. The Broncos activated him from the PUP list and he saw work in the individual periods. While Hamler looked fluid and crisp Monday, expect the Broncos to take their time bringing him all the way back. “There is still awhile until we get him into some team reps. [We’ll] also let him do some of those walkthroughs so that he can put the [dry-erase] board away,” Hackett said.
- TE Greg Dulcich saw individual-period work for the first time in training camp. However, the Broncos are likely to continue bringing him along slowly due to the nature of hamstring injuries and recoveries. Why be cautious? It goes back to Nathaniel Hackett’s father, Paul, and his work under Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame coach Tom Landry. As Landry would say, “The minute those things happen, never rush them back. Right when you think they’re good, give them longer. Because those are so finicky,” Hackett recalled. “We just want to be sure that we’re doing it the right way.”
- Slot CB K’Waun Williams did not practice due to a knee injury suffered Saturday. He is considered day-to-day. Essang Bassey filled in for him.
- WR Tyrie Cleveland left practice after he got hit in the throat, Hackett said.
- Graham Glasgow got right guard reps the second unit Thursday, working alongside Luke Wattenberg.
- Netane Muti worked at left guard with the No. 2 offense. Quinn Meinerz got all of the first-team snaps at right guard.
Temperatures soared during practice, rising 10 degrees — from 82°F to 92°F — during the course of the two-hour session.
The Broncos practice Tuesday at UCHealth Training Center at 10 a.m. MDT. The session is expected to last until noon.