Exclusive: Dalton Risner defends Hackett’s ‘easier’ Broncos practices
Dalton Risner, 27, is entering his fourth season as a Denver Bronco, and he’s got a new coach in Nathaniel Hackett, who is just 15 years older than him.
The younger Hackett is making sure to take care of his players, practicing a little easier than some of the Broncos have been worked in the past. And in turn, Hackett’s players are taking care of him.
Risner, a pro who has already played in 47 NFL games, thinks he has a good bearing on where he needs to be coming into a season. He says the new scheme suits him better, and the thing helping him the most is how fresh his body feels. The Wiggins, Colorado, native joined 104.3 The Fan’s Brandon Stokley and Zach Bye on Thursday live from UC Health Training Center.
“The thing that Hackett does a great job of is when we come out here, we’re ready to work,” Risner told the show. “I’m not going to use any names. But for the last three years, we might go four or five days in pads in a row. Right? By the time you get to that third or fourth day, the boys are beat.”
“I’m just gonna be real; I want to be fake to y’all and say, ‘we’re gonna be ready every day for four weeks full pads.’ I’m not going to lie to you guys that third or fourth day it’s a dog day, man, and that tempo lowers down whether they want it to or not,” Risner explained. “So what’s great about this is they have a day that you said they throttled us all the way down. Well, they’re not what we’re doing. We did 50-plus plays yesterday on the ball.”
The Broncos have been ramping up slowly, going with their most extended practice on Thursday, the eighth day of camp. They’ve been switching off days where they do jog-throughs and full padded practice.
“There is no throttle down when you have Russell Wilson on your football team,” Risner said. “So we might not have been in full pads and banging yesterday, but like we got 50 plays in and were getting to the line, we were running that thing.”
“We all talked about as a team, we’re like, ‘Man, that was nice.’ We got to take care of our bodies, but we still have to be mentally locked in with getting to the line get through our stuff that we show back up today,” he said. “And guess what today? The guys aren’t too banged up, and you can go out there in full pads today.”
Risner did break from his persuasive praise at the end of his extended response for a moment of honesty.
“I’m a huge fan of it, man, but to be real, as you said, Whatever a coach does, I’m going to be a fan of it like, I’m gonna support my coach,” he said. “I’m going to support the heck out of whatever they do. If you would have asked me last year with Vic Fangio on day five of pads if I was cool with that. I would have said yes.”
The not-going-as-hard-as-possible practices has made many ask questions about how the Broncos will approach their three preseason games. Over the last few years, many teams in the NFL have let their starters sit the entire preseason. Risner said he’d be okay with sitting, but that’s not his preference.
“It depends for me where the offensive line is at,” he said. “If I had to choose for Russell Wilson and said, please don’t play, although I want him to be ready so whatever he wants is great. If the offensive line needs to get reps and the coaches want us out there, I have no problem with it.”
“If they’re like, ‘Hey, we feel good about y’all.’ I would not want not to play all three,” Risner said. “I at least want to get a half of football, whether that’s a quarter and a quarter over two games or a half in the last preseason game. I’d rather not play in the first, play a quarter in two and a half in three. That’s where I would like stair step and get ready for the season. The last thing I want to do is what we did during the COVID season with no preseason. No matter how hard you work out here. Sometimes it just doesn’t give you that feeling of being on a 13-play drive or other guys when you have fans there and the whole deal, so I at least want to get some ball in.”