Sean Payton impressed with Russell Wilson in offseason workouts
May 26, 2023, 6:17 AM
(Photo by Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
The Denver Broncos were once again on the practice field. On Thursday, practice was open to the media, as voluntary workouts were conducted at Centura Health Training Center.
We’re not able to report on practice like we used to, as Broncos head coach Sean Payton has new rules for the media to follow. Those expecting my normal OTA reports will be sorely disappointed, but I’ll do my best to give you the information I can herein.
Payton doesn’t care about our feelings, and I’m okay with that.
“That was our policy at the Saints, and I just carried it here. Everyone has been affected on this side of the building with the way we are doing things. You guys got the rookies for an open locker room and then I just took away your little Twitter posts during practice. We’ll call it even (laughing).” Payton said.
Here are some thoughts from Broncos OTAs.
One word Payton loves is vision. Since he showed up in Denver, he’s been talking about what the team’s vision is going to be. There’s a team vision, and Payton is not shy when it comes to talking about what he wants the Broncos to be.
On the practice field, you can see how things are run differently than in year’s past. I get Mike Shanahan vibes when I’m watching a Payton practice. The energy is different, the pace seems to be more focused, and Payton has his fingerprints on everything.
I really believe Payton wants quality reps, not just quantity of reps. It’s an important plan for the offseason if you want to reach the vision put forth for this season. Payton is not shy about telling his players what his goals are, and that reminder of what this work will bring you can bring this team closer together.
In addition to the players getting used to the Payton system, the coaching staff is getting used to coaching together as this offseason has rolled on.
“We had our rookie camp, and part of the rookie camp for us was working for the first time as a coaching staff. In other words, this is the first time we’ve all coached a practice together. For the young players, you want to see an upward curve. Obviously, the rookies are behind a little. We know that. Our job by the time training camp starts is to get them up to speed. There’s only one way to evaluate a player, and it’s hard to evaluate him if he’s moving slow because there’s indecision with what he’s doing. Hopefully, they’re picking things up quickly,” Payton said.
Russell Wilson talked about being the best version of himself after practice. He’s always full of positive comments at the podium, but something seemed different about Wilson. It was not just his slimmer look, which everyone seemed to comment on, but Wilson seemed more sincere.
There’s always going to be some who write off his “Tony Robbins” approach, but Wilson is always genuine. On Thursdday, I felt his words had more gravity based on what he went through last season. Wilson has heard the doubters, but he’s not letting that doubt creep into his mind. The Broncos hired Payton to get this team on track, and Wilson believes he can be the best version of himself running the Payton system.
I’m not sure if Wilson will ever be the quarterback he used to be. However, I do know that whatever his best is at this point in his career; he will reach the pinnacle by listening to Payton. Wilson is working hard, and his teammates are responding to his leadership in ways they did not seem to last year – especially as the bad season plodded on. The work and the togetherness is bringing this team closer than they were last year, and Wilson is ready to lead the way if he can be the best version of himself.
Payton is impressed with the veteran quarterback.
“These guys are doing well, and he’s picking it up the timing and all of those things that are required. For the first five weeks, we were just lifting and running. Now, we’re getting into some football activity. We are ahead of schedule on the practice. He’s picking it up good; he looks good and looks sharp,” Payton said.
Name of the Game
I think the name of the game with the Broncos under Payton will be competition. Everywhere you look on the practice field, there is competition. There are a small handful of players who are “set” in their position, but there are dozens of players who must fight – hard – to earn their spot on the depth chart. There are even players who must fight hard just to earn their spot on the roster or the practice squad.
Competition brings out the best in players. Football players who make it to the league are the best in the world, but things can go off track if too many players feel entitled. I’m not getting that sense out of Payton’s team. Players who some may think have egos are dialed in more than they were in the past. Guys are going out of their way to impress Payton, and that shows up in the heated competition we see on the field.
This team just feels different because they have swagger. When a play is made, the team celebrates – and the other side of the ball goes back after their teammates on the next play. Heads are not hanging low with these Broncos. Instead, players are making plays, and teammates are supporting each other in ways you did not see under former head coach Nathaniel Hackett. I don’t see any “field days” coming up for the Broncos this summer. I do see the possibility that more than a few fights break out during training camp before the first preseason game.
The defense should be rock solid again in 2023. The offense was putrid last year, and the team is going to have a fierce competition on that side of the ball.
“It’s the third day. We’re working through (things). Look, we’re installing an entirely new offense. You see glimpses and then you see a lot we have to correct. The process is going well,” Payton said.