BRONCOS

Even for 14-year veteran Kareem Jackson, Sean Payton is something brand-new

Jun 15, 2023, 12:24 PM

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — For those players whose only NFL or Broncos training camp experience was last year, next month’s camp will offer a rousing how-do-you-do.

“Yeah, I think it’ll be different for some guys,” said 14-year veteran safety Kareem Jackson.

“I’ve been a part of some tough training camps. But it’ll definitely be a change — especially for the rookies last year and the training camp that we had last year, with having the yellow and the green and the red days.”

The colors denoted how much work players would do in a given practice. One of every three practices during last summer’s training camp took place at a jog-through pace with no contact. Some players loved it at the time. But that style of camp didn’t prevent injuries, none more damaging than the torn ACL suffered by Tim Patrick.

Most of the team was refreshed for the season by the time Week 1 arrived. But the Broncos also looked underprepared.

“In terms of everybody being fresh going into the season, I think body-wise, everybody was, but at the same time, you’ve still got to get some work in,” Jackson said Thursday. “So, it will definitely be a change for some guys.

“And at the same time, we’ll see how it works, but I believe in what Coach Sean is doing.”

A rigorous camp is something Jackson knows well. He spent the first nine seasons of his career in Houston. Down there, muggy conditions left players drenched in sweat for even a walk-through.

But the attention to detail demonstrated by Payton is on another level. And that’s something new for Jackson, who re-signed with the Broncos last month for a 14th NFL go-’round.

Jackson is on his fifth full-time, non-interim head coach. He played for Gary Kubiak, Bill O’Brien, Vic Fangio and Nathaniel Hackett. But he acknowledged Thursday that he hasn’t seen anything to the degree of Payton.

“And this is no disrespect to any of my other coaches that I’ve been around, but I haven’t been around a football mind like that in my career,” Jackson said. “Just his attention to detail, the way he’s teaching everybody and taking chances on the field to stop things and coach the moments.”

The Broncos practice at a crisp tempo. But pauses to explain and drill specific game situations are common in Payton’s sessions. His explanations are aimed at the entire team — not just the 11 or 22 players running that specific on-field scenario.

“The younger guys may not understand it now, but later on in their career, they’ll appreciate that,” Jackson said.

“There are some of the things he’s doing now that I haven’t been able to experience, so, with having him, I think we can do some special things.”

And Payton and his staff is the reason why.

“We’ve had the guys now that we had last year, and I think the biggest difference now is obviously having a different coaching staff and having Coach Sean here,” Jackson said.

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