Malik Reed shines on Day 11, Wilson will take what the defense gives him
Aug 8, 2022, 2:27 PM
(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
The Denver Broncos had a day off on Sunday. I was worried that on Monday the team would be doing a jog through, but they did not. Instead, it was a ‘medium’ level of practice with plenty of things to take away. With the Dallas Cowboys coming in later this week, I’m curious to see how the Broncos perform.
The Broncos are going to have a week that ramps up to Thursday against the Cowboys. Monday was a good day, and it wasn’t a jog through. I expect Tuesday will be like Monday, and Wednesday will be a jog through before things get real on Thursday.
Here are some of my notes from Day 11 of training camp.
Punch It Up
The wide zone blocking system is one that can be incredibly successful if executed properly. This system features timing from both the offensive linemen and the running back. Both need to be on the same page for things to work properly.
It was good to see the Broncos work on the inside running game. There was no live tackling of course, and the team was not in full pads, but you could see backs plant their foot in the ground and punch it up inside. The wide zone system requires the running back to bend, bang or bounce at the entry point of the run. A back needs to get to that point on time, and his blockers must have defenders set up by moving laterally.
Take What They Give You
There is a misconception that Russell Wilson only wants to play ‘hero ball’ when dropping back to pass. This is tied to the same thing you’ve heard from bitter Seahawks fans who say Wilson holds onto the ball too long (untrue) and is looking only for deep shots (also untrue). In practice on Monday, it was obvious that Wilson was taking what the defense gave him.
Wilson did take some deep shots (more on that in a bit), but he was more than happy to get the ball out on time and on target to receivers on underneath routes. On Monday, it seemed like the Broncos defense was doing their best to prevent big plays down the field. That means Wilson was painting the underneath routes with passes on time. Yes, he did make it through all his options, but Wilson did not (and does not) force the ball into coverage down the field. If he must manage a game, Wilson is more than capable of doing that.
Courtland Sutton had an uneven day on Monday, but he finished practice strong. There were a few times when Sutton ended up on the ground during practice, and one week after losing Tim Patrick for the season, it was a scary sight. Sutton made it up by the end of practice, but things were just a bit off to start.
On the last play of practice, Wilson found Sutton for a deep shot that connected. This is why I believe Sutton is Wilson’s favorite. When a big play is needed, Wilson has learned that he can throw it up for Sutton – and most of the time Sutton will come down with the ball. The final play on Monday will only strengthen Wilson’s belief and trust in Sutton.
I’ve written a lot about the pass-rushers during training camp, but I want to highlight Malik Reed’s performance from Monday. Reed was wreaking havoc on the right side of the offensive line throughout the day. He was going up against right tackle Calvin Anderson on most reps, and Reed won a lot of his matchups.
Reed is not Shaq Barrett, but I feel like he’s a reserve for the Broncos who could start for many teams around the NFL. His game is about get off and closing burst. Reed is showing better timing when it comes to guessing the snap count, and when the quarterback is in his vicinity he will burst quickly to his opponent. I like the way Reed has looked this training camp, and how he’s shown a few more moves as a pass-rusher. The Broncos do have question marks at the position, but I don’t think Reed is one of them.
A couple of players returned to the practice field on Monday. Broncos’ cornerback K’Waun Williams (knee) returned to practice on Monday after missing a week or so with an unspecified knee injury. Williams was limited in what he did, and we still saw plenty of Essang Bassey at the slot corner during team drills.
Broncos defensive end Jonathon Cooper (undisclosed) returned to practice as well. I liked what he showed as a rusher last year, and the second-year pro has a ton of heart. It’s good to see him back out there at practice, but at a full position he might be angling to begin the year on the practice squad in 2022.