Broncos Practice Report: Could KJ Hamler play Saturday?
Aug 22, 2022, 8:19 PM
(Photo by Andrew Mason / DenverFan.com)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –– Twenty-one days separate the Broncos from their regular-season opener in Seattle. That’s 21 days for KJ Hamler, Randy Gregory and Billy Turner to get ready.
Turner was not on the practice field Monday, and whether he starts at right tackle in Week 1 is a matter of debate.
“I think right now, we have to first answer that question and see if he’s healthy,” Hackett said. “So, I don’t want to say anything until then. Again, just want to see where he’s at. It’s all about where he’s at.”
But while Turner didn’t practice Monday, Gregory and Hamler did. For Hamler in particular, this could be a week of palpable progress, as Hackett wants to utilize him in team-period repetitions.
“Yeah, that’s what we’re looking for,” Hackett said Monday. “We definitely want him to get out there [and] I know he is chomping at the bit.
“You tell him he can’t do something, he’s not a very happy camper — and that’s what you want. You want the guys to want to get out there and want to push themselves.”
Hackett and Broncos brass don’t want Hamler to push himself to the point where he jeopardizes his regular-season availability. But at the same time …
“We’ll see; he might be a guy that needs to get some reps in the preseason game,” Hackett said. “We’re going to communicate and make sure that he gets what he needs to get ready.”
The Broncos have just three rushing first downs in their first two preseason games. And all of them came on a single series.
It doesn’t matter whether you have second-teamers against first-teamers or the No. 3 offensive line against a No. 2 front seven. That’s rough.
Three first downs in 36 non-kneeldown rushing attempts so far in August yields-a-piddling 1-in-12 move-the-chains rate. What makes matters worse is the cascade of front-seven defenders piling through blockers and into the backfield like water cascading over Niagara Falls.
Consider this: Mike Boone has seven carries this preseason. Defenders met him in the backfield on four of them. Predictably, he lost yardage each time this happened, through no fault of his own; it started up front.
“In the end, that’s not what we want to be about when it comes to physicality across the board,” Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett said Monday.
But how much of the run-game issues are physical — and how much are mental?
“You always want to be physical and you have to dominate the man in front of you,” Hackett said. “Whenever you have a double-team, you have to take advantage of that. Whenever you don’t know where you’re going, it’s hard to ask a guy to be physical.
“In the run-game standpoint, it is that there were some unbelievable looks for us to be able to take advantage of the defense. But when people are either going the wrong way or not understanding the angle that we’re trying to create for them, it’s not going to be advantageous for us and they’re going to take advantage of it. That’s what we saw.”
- Hackett said the team will practice in shells Tuesday and full pads Wednesday.
- As per usual, the third week of the preseason will see the Broncos mimic a regular-season game-preparation week. So, Tuesday’s work will be like a typical Wednesday before a Sunday game, Wednesday like a Thursday, and so on leading up to Saturday night’s preseason finale.
- Offensive lineman Tom Compton will start the regular season on the physically-unable-to-perform list. “He’s continually working through his back [issues],” Hackett said. Compton must remain on the PUP list through the Broncos’ first four games. After that, he can return to practice. When Compton practices, the clock starts on a 21-day window in which the Broncos can activate him to the 53-man roster. If the Broncos don’t activate Compton, he would remain on the PUP list for the rest of the season.
- Not practicing Monday were WR Tyrie Cleveland (shot to the throat), LB Jonas Griffith (dislocated elbow), OL Casey Tucker (toe), CB Michael Ojemudia (dislocated elbow) and Sam Martin (ankle).
- Surgery is not needed for Ojemudia, who is expected to miss four-to-six weeks.
- Martin is expected to punt Saturday after suffering a pre-game injury in Buffalo.
- Edge rusher Malik Reed practiced after leaving Saturday’s game when he suffered a poke in the left eye.