Friday, the Denver Broncos reconvened for the second practice of their 2016 training camp at their year-old UC Health Training Facility.
The hope was to build on a focused and energetic Day One. With several weeks of camp and preseason action on the horizon, the veterans are trying to pace themselves, while still getting in good work.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1688594-mhh-premium-how-you-can-s... “I’m one of those guys that come running out here fast and next thing you know I’m hurt during training camp and I’m not back until the first game of the year," wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said following Day One. "So I’m just really trying to pace myself. Sometimes I just overwork myself, and today, I just came in with a cool mindset of, ‘Hey look, it’s just one day at a time, knock out one bird at a time. Don’t try to rush it.’ Just get yourself prepared for Carolina.”
Day Two of "Champ Camp"—as the guys over at Denver's 104.3 the FAN are calling this year's proceedings—was marked by some big plays and a continuation of the patterns the Broncos established Thursday.
Jordan Taylor Channels OBJ
Taylor is already making big splash plays. Friday, he hauled in a one-handed, behind-the-head catch—in the vein of Odell Beckham, Jr.—that left fans, and teammates buzzing.
The former undrafted rookie out of Rice made it into every reporter's notebook today. And his head coach was on hand to witness it in person.
"I saw it from like 75 yards away, so it was obviously something special," head coach Gary Kubiak said after practice. "I'll go take a peak."
Taylor is competing for what could be the sixth, and final, roster spot on the WR depth chart. Not only is he trying to chip away at veterans Jordan Norwood, Bennie Fowler, and Cody Latimer, he's also trying to fend off a grip of undrafted rookies, highlighted by Oregon's Bralon Addison.
Taylor spent last year on the practice squad, and was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to work one-on-one with Peyton Manning late in the season when the five-time NFL MVP was working to return from a plantar fascia injury in his left foot. The two forged a bond and Taylor gleaned many tips and tricks-of-the-trade that will help to set himself apart in this year's camp.
“Working with Peyton last year was priceless," Taylor said following practice. "The things he taught me during his rehab is stuff that I’ll take the rest of my career and definitely in this camp.”
Taylor will have to keep it up and show consistency to earn the coaches' consideration for a spot on the final 53-man roster.
"Jordan is an interesting kid," Kubiak said. "It seems like the harder things get and the longer we practice and those types of things is when he starts to play at his best. His legs got a little tired today, but he keeps going. I think his conditioning level gives him a chance to be a really good player."
Siemian Gets Reps With The Ones
Gary Kubiak has been adamant that the QB reps with the first-team are going to be "evenly" metered out. Day one, Mark Sanchez handled the reps with the ones during the team period. And was easily the sharpest of the three signal-callers.
To start Day Two, Sanchez began again as QB1, but following an interception, was quickly ushered off the field for Trevor Siemian. Siemian entered the series and finished out the day with the ones.
The Broncos are clearly sending a message to the veteran. Playing cavalierly with the football will not be tolerated. And knowing Sanchez's career TD-to-INT ratio (86-to-84), it makes sense.
Sanchez might have the inside angle to the starter's job this year, but, if he can't instill confidence in the coaching staff that he understands ball-security is paramount, all bets are off. With the best defense in football, the Broncos will be in every game, but they can ill-afford turnovers.
According to Kubiak, we can expect to see an equal splitting of the first-team reps for the first part of camp.
"We're trying to go up there every night looking at an equal amount with each kid," Kubiak said. "That'll probably stay consistent here for a couple of weeks."
Rookie Fullback Seeing First-Team Reps
The Broncos spent a valuable sixth round draft pick on Nebraska fullback Andy Janovich. With the Broncos transitioning fully to Gary Kubiak's variant of the West Coast Offense, they needed a viable fullback.
Necessity demands that Janovich steps up early and thus far, he seems to be settling into his role with the team. He received reps with the ones today and looked good.
Fortunately for the rookie, Janovich doesn't have to learn the entire playbook—only the fraction that features the fullback. While its still a sizable sum, its nowhere near the "dictionary" Paxton Lynch has to memorize.
So far, its serving Janovich well, allowing him to step in and play, rather than being held back to grapple with the mental side. As a guy proficient at catching and running, as well as blocking, it'll be fun to see how the Broncos feature him when the preseason games roll around.
New Tight End Settling In
The seventh-year veteran received some work in team drills and even caught a ball from Paxton Lynch. The Broncos have high expectations for their tight end group, but there are still a lot of question marks surrounding the position.
The elder statesman of the group, Virgil Green, missed all of OTAs with a finger injury and 2015 third-rounder Jeff Heuerman redshirted his rookie year on IR due to a torn ACL suffered in rookie mini-camp.
To add insult to injury, Heuerman dealt with a hamstring injury in OTAs, delaying his full return. Heuerman was itching to get back on the football field and talked about his return Thursday.
“It’s football practice," Heuerman said. "You’ve done it before. It’s not your first time practicing. Like I said, it’s just about being consistent day in and day out for six months. That’s the goal.”
We'll see how the TE competition coalesces as we get a little further into camp.
The Injury Bug Strikes
As much as we hate to see it, injuries are a part of football. You hope not to see it so early in camp, but on Day Two, the injury bug stuck the Broncos, biting three players.
Veteran nose guard Phil Taylor went down with what appeared to be a knee injury. Coach Kubiak confirmed it was a knee after practice and that Taylor will undergo an MRI tomorrow.
Taylor spent 2015 out of football and was already struggling with conditioning on Day One. He was signed to backup up Sylvester Williams, but Sly injured his shoulder Friday and had to leave practice. Hopefully, it's not serious for either player.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1690370-watch-broncos-dbs-wearing... Losing the top-two players at nose guard could really set the Broncos back, if it requires some recovery time. The Broncos still have last year's sixth-rounder Darius Kilgo, who saw some action with the first-team defense as a rookie. While Sly and Taylor are out, the onus will fall on Kilgo.
The Broncos also have a trio of undrafted rookies who can stop the gap and keep bodies where they're supposed to be for team drills. Kyle Peko, David Moala and Calvin Heurtelou all have a great opportunity to capitalize on their opportunity.
Offensive tackle Donald Stephenson also pulled up lame with an ankle injury, but was able to return to the field.
"As always, those are camp things," Kubiak said. "I can give you a better answer probably tomorrow or this afternoon. Donald rolled his ankle, but he finished practice. He's ok.”
Note: Sylvester Williams returned to the walk-through portion of practice, following the session open to the media.
Fan Attendance Bounces Back
After an underwhelming fan turnout on Day One, more than 4,000 showed up at UC Health Training Facility to watch the Broncos practice on Day Two.
Fan attendance and participation in the on-field proceedings can help energize the players. The Broncos are hopeful the fan turnout will continue to climb.
Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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