ENGLEWOOD, Colo—Denver Broncos Head Coach Gary Kubiak had his first opportunity to work with his new team on the field Tuesday as the team began their voluntary veteran offseason mini-camp at Dove Valley. After the workout, Kubiak took some time to speak with the assembled media.
He talked about the release of linebacker Quanterus Smith, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas’ ongoing holdout, and spoke extensively about working with quarterback Peyton Manning. Above all, Kubiak expressed excitement about getting back on the gridiron.
“It’s good to get back to work so to speak,” he said. “Obviously we’ve been very busy as coaches preparing for this, and now we’re operating and getting ready for the draft this weekend. To actually get out here on the field, for me to see all the guys other than just talking to them, it’s been good. We’ll have a good couple of days here and then have a good draft this weekend before getting back into Phase 2.”
Last week the Broncos conducted team physicals to evaluate the progress of injured players. Fallout from those assessments began Tuesday morning as the team released outside linebacker Quanterus Smith, following a failed examination on his knee. Kubiak said the decision to release Smith was fairly cut and dry.
“It’s just a decision that we made,” he said. “Obviously he’s still coming back from some injury-type situation, but we did that. We had a couple of other guys kind of working. Brandon Marshall is not going to work. Danny Trevathan actually did do a little bit at the end, so that was a positive. I think Isaiah Burse is the other young man that we pulled from practice. Other than that, everybody’s involved.”
Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas was again absent Tuesday, as he continues a contract holdout that began in March when General Manager John Elway placed Denver’s franchise tag on the Pro Bowl pass-catcher. Kubiak expressed resigned frustration over Thomas’ absence, but pledged to work him into the system once he arrives at Dove Valley.
“First off, obviously Demaryius is a huge player for what we’re doing,” he said. “I’ve got great respect for him and what he’s done in the league. I know that he will continue to do so. I think me speaking as coaches and the players; we know that he’s going to take care of his business. Would we love to have him here? Yes. That goes without saying. It’s a voluntary program and these guys out here got a good head start. You look at the other receivers and the reps they got today. Those guys have got to get better. That’s part of football. We’ll work through it. We’re expecting great things from him. When he gets here, we’ll get to work.”
Finally, Kubiak talked extensively about working with five-time MVP Peyton Manning. Despite a number of media assertions to the contrary, Kubiak says ‘meshing’ his offensive terminology with Manning’s patented offensive approach hasn’t been all that difficult.
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“I really don’t think it’s that hard,” he said. “Talking ball, for the most part, a lot of people do it the same way. What we had to do was basically take the things that they did best and what he does best and is very comfortable with, and then bring in some of the things that we want to be as an offensive football team. You find a way to make the two come together. I think Rick Dennison and the staff has done a really good job of that. Today, we had no problem as far as functioning and operating. For us as coaches, there were two systems going on out there today. I think the players can handle it. It’s not a problem. We as coaches have to do a good job of teaching.”
Kubiak was visibly excited about working with Manning. He told the media that one of the best parts of the experience thus far has been establishing a two-way relationship with the 39- year-old passer.
“He wants to know why,” Kubiak said. “Great players ask why. I think I told the team that this morning. I know for however many years I was here as Shanahan’s coordinator, Shannon Sharpe sat in the front row and John sat right next to Shannon. Believe me, they asked why a lot. ‘Kube, why are we doing this? Why are we doing that?’ That’s what great players do. You better have those answers for them so that they can go compete. That’s what you want.”
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