A Monday morning can potentially be the most dull time of the week, but a star-studded training camp practice for the Denver Broncos made sure it was anything but that.
The men and women of NFL Total Access (including Terrell Davis) dropped by to take a look at "Champ Camp," and later spoke with GM John Elway.
Elway is, of course, overseeing an organization coming off of a Super Bowl championship and seeking another. Davis remembers firsthand exactly what that situation is like.
"Guys that were used to being hungry just stayed hungrier," Davis recalled. "It wasn’t a time to rest and try to enjoy that championship. It was let’s win as many as we can and see what happens when it is all said and done.”
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1681565-5-reasons-you-should-go-p...Former teammates Davis and Elway may just share a mind when it comes to that issue. He's built a roster that wants to be in Denver and wants to chase another Lombardi. The players that chased money over the pursuit of a dynasty have left, leaving a team that values winning over everything else.
The reigning champions took the field this morning, ready to prove it.
McGovern Steps In
Yesterday, the offensive line was shaken up because of the day off for center Matt Paradis. James Ferentz moved up into the starting position, and Sam Brenner ran with the second team. However, when Brenner suffered a concussion yesterday and Ty Sambrailo (elbow) was unable to participate, the interior offensive line depth took a it.
Enter the fifth-round pick out of Missouri, Connor McGovern.
"The natural thing was for Connor to move up and let me go back and look to see how he did today," Head Coach Gary Kubiak said. "That’s why we drafted him. Hopefully we get Ty back as soon as possible, but if not, the first move is to move Connor up.”
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1690869-continuity-on-the-o-line-... Running with the ones was no small task for the rookie. Immediately, he was thrown into the fire against Derek Wolfe, who can make most starting-caliber guards wish they were somewhere else.
Still, the Fargo native held up and put up a good fight. With early reviews of Sambrailo the guard not as stellar as many hoped, the Broncos may end up utilizing McGovern quite a bit in his rookie campaign.
The eventual alignment of the offensive line remains somewhat of a mystery. Free agent signing Russell Okung will almost definitely start at left tackle and Matt Paradis is about as dependable as you could get out of a center, but the other three spots are still up for grabs.
Max Garcia looks to assume control at left guard after the departure of Evan Mathis. Garcia had some incredible moments filling in for Mathis last year (including clearing the way on C.J. Anderson's overtime touchdown against New England), but his pass protection still needs to catch up to his run blocking.
On the right side, Donald Stephenson was brought in to take over for Michael Schofield at right tackle, but Stephenson wasn't even a full-time starter in Kansas City. It's also possible that Schofield could slide inside and challenge Sambrailo for the right guard spot, but it seems most likely he'll be utilized as a swing tackle.
Lynch Finding His Groove
Sunday was a big day for rookie quarterback Paxton Lynch. He shook off a pair of interceptions and reminded everyone why he was a first-round pick as he slung three deep balls to three different undrafted rookie wide receivers.
On Monday, the former Memphis Tiger wasn't quite as flashy, but his consistent and sound play assured skeptics that yesterday's showcase wasn't just a flash in the pan. Lynch zipped passes to rookie free agent Durron Neal, former Houston Texan Garrett Graham, and floated a 17-yard rainbow of a touchdown to wide receiver Jordan Taylor, who went up and over B.J. Lowery to haul in the pass.
Tight end Virgil Green commented on what he's noticed so far about Lynch's game.
“He’s learning. He’s being comfortable, not getting frustrated when Coach [Kubiak] is coaching him," Green said. "He’s a guy that wants to learn. He gets excited when he get’s things right, and it’s good to see him happy and getting excited and making those long passes.”
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1690881-broncos-2016-training-cam... In other quarterback news, Mark Sanchez still remains the favorite to start in week one, but that didn't stop Trevor Siemian from making the most of his snaps with the first-team offense.
The head coach shared his thoughts on the quarterback competition thus far.
"I think the competition is excellent," Kubiak said. "I think one of the things for sure, is number 12 [Lynch] is really stepping up. He’s making some progress. I think they are all doing a good job. I would say the young kid has just gotten better each and every day.”
Despite Lynch's recent push to climb the depth chart, the two quarterbacks above him are still playing like they belong. With a defense with as much depth as the Broncos, you can't take any offensive production for granted, but Siemian and Sanchez are going up against the NFL's best defense on every snap.
One of the team's mantras has been "iron sharpens iron," which holds a lot of truth in a football sense. When you're regularly having to complete passes against the No-Fly Zone, it becomes a relief to face anyone else. It's like running on sand for a month, and then finally getting to pound regular pavement.
It has yet to be decided who will be running back kickoffs and punts for the Broncos this season.
Raymond, whose speed and quickness has been second only to his effort, has impressed Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeCamillis.
"He's done a good job. We worked on kickoff return today. It looked like he had a couple of nice shots there," DeCamillis said. "On punt return, in the team stuff that he's returned, he was good. He's just got to work on returning mechanics and make sure that he keeps catching every ball because that's the most important thing for sure."
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1690650-broncos-rookie-preview-br... The former Holy Cross Crusader is making a strong case to make the practice squad, if not the 53-man roster. He's shown serious chemistry with Paxton Lynch and has succeeded in the unenviable task of getting separation against the Broncos' dominant defensive backs. At this point, he has the edge over the other undrafted rookies, but he'll have to beat out Taylor to get onto the active roster.
So far, Colquitt has shown veteran consistency. Dixon has hit some serious bombs off of his right foot, but has struggled to maintain a solid hang time on his punts.
“Both of them [are having] good camps," DeCamillis said. "The first team day, which is always expected, wasn't a great day for either one of them and it was a little windy. Then the second day they both came back and I'd say still neck-and-neck just like it was in our OTAs.”
Colquitt earned a lucrative contract from the Broncos after becoming one of the NFL's best punters early in his career, but recently, he has underwhelmed. He finished off 2015 with a strong postseason, but it wasn't enough to keep the Broncos from drafting the Syracuse punter, Dixon.
As far as punter competitions go, it's been a fierce one to this point.
Von Catching Up
Von Miller has been greeted by "M-V-P" chants every morning of training camp, but he still needs to shake off some of the R-U-S-T after missing OTAs.
He's been eased into full participation, and is finally starting to get back into the swing of things. One of the new challenges he faces with this year's team is taking over a leadership role.
"It’s always meant a lot for me to go out there and play for my teammates, but now it means a lot more," Miller said. "I want to go out there and be that leader for everybody. I want to go out here and work, just grind every single day.”
The signature game of Miller's career was Super Bowl 50, where he forced two crucial fumbles that turned the tide of the game and earned him MVP honors. But with the expectations brought on by the media attention and the new mega-contract, he'll have to do it all again.
“That’s what everybody wants to see, right? Everybody wants to see the rematch of the Super Bowl," Miller said. "Two great teams; I think that’s what everybody wants to see, so it’ll be a great game. It’ll be a great matchup.”
That Thursday night opener against Carolina will be a revealing litmus test of the Broncos' status after what many thought was a disastrous offseason.
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Will Keys is an Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @WillKeys6.