The Denver Broncos took Tuesday off but were back in the saddle Wednesday for the sixth practice of 2016 training camp.
The Broncos have eight days until their first preseason game vs. the Chicago Bears on August 11. As important as training camp performances are, roster spots are truly won and lost in the preseason games.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1688594-mhh-premium-how-you-can-s... For now, the Broncos are still trying to figure out where they stand with their new cast of characters. The coaches will have a little bit better understanding of how they're measuring up when they line up vs. John Fox's squad at Soldier Field.
The team came out a bit sluggish, following their day off and head coach Gary Kubiak didn't suffer it for long.
“We had a day off yesterday and we didn’t respond very well," Kubiak said. "Good teams, when you get a break day and come back, are bouncing around. We came back lethargic, not practicing very well and not practicing very well at quarterback today. I just let them know. We battled back at the end, but we just have to continue to find our leaders on this team and the guys that are going to step up when things get hard.”
Let's get to the news and notes from Day Six.
The Injury Bug Striketh
The Broncos lost defensive tackle Phil Taylor (knee) over the weekend to injured reserve. Tuesday's day off was much needed, as several players are dealing with nicks and bruises.
“Kayvon [suffered] a thigh bruise at practice—about midway through on Monday," head coach Gary Kubiak said after practice. "He did try to finish practice, but he’s just too sore. It’s probably going to be a couple of days.”
The biggest impact, obviously, is in the interior of the offensive line. The Broncos top-3 guards did not practice Wednesday.
Their absence created a trickle-down effect, giving opportunity to players behind them on the depth chart. After a season mostly lost due to a shoulder injury, it's concerning to see Sambrailo already missing time, but the primary concern is with Garcia, whom Denver needs badly at left guard.
“He [Garcia] rolled an ankle in a walk through," Kubiak said. "It’s very disappointing.”
Schofield and McGovern Get Reps With The First Team
The injuries to Denver's top-3 guards forced the coaches to get creative. Rookie fifth-round guard Connor McGovern stepped in to man the right guard slot on Monday, when Sambrailo went down. McGovern saw time again Wednesday with the first team.
Michael Schofield, who's been billed strictly as a tackle since the Broncos selected him in the third round in 2014, was inserted at left guard today with the ones. He saw some reps at left tackle a few days ago, with Russell Okung still working back from injury.
But now he's stepping in at guard. It's a concerning development, as fans still have nightmares from the four sacks Schofield relinquished to Khalil Mack in a rare home loss to the Oakland Raiders last year. As Luc Polglaze said on this week's episode of the Huddle Up Podcast, if Schofield is anywhere on the starting O-line come Week 1, nobody would blame you for having a meltdown.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1692284-thomas-grandmother-has-se... For now, it's simply the coaches trying to plug holes and roll with the injury bug punches. Schofield is a young player. There's still hope that as a high-round draft pick, he can develop into a core player.
Schofield showed signs of improvement in the Broncos postseason run last season, but he still has a long way to go to earn back the trust and confidence of Broncos Country.
“Ty [Sambrailo] is out today, so there was an opportunity," Kubiak said. "The questions is, do you keep working Connor there and leave Michael alone? Max [Garcia] also missed a day. A lot of jumping through hoops as coaches trying to get practice going today. What an opportunity for both of them. That’s what you have to be able to do in this business. You have to be able to do a lot of things when you get the chance.”
At the very least, with Schofield seeing reps on the first team at both left tackle and guard, the coaches know what they're options are if they're forced into a tough situation when the regular season comes around.
Devontae Booker Carries Pads & Eats Crow
"My message to Broncos fans is, I want to be one of the best running backs to come out of Denver," he said. "I'm not there to carry pads. I'm there to take someone's job."
Booker showed courage in cutting through the binds of rookie political correctness, voicing the mindset of most players entering the first year of their professional careers. But in so doing, he landed on the radar of all the veterans in his locker room.
Good for you, rook. Sometimes a man's just gotta pay his dues. Grin, and bear it.
A Disappointing Effort From The Quarterbacks
Gary Kubiak talked about the coaches' effort to find the leaders in this year's roster. The hope is that one of the quarterbacks would fill that role. Unfortunately, today's less-than-stellar team performance was epitomized by the signal-callers.
There have been some mixed reviews on the QB's performances thus far in camp. Paxton Lynch started off slow the first couple days, but seemed to pick up momentum before the Broncos took a day off. Monday, you could tell how excited Kubiak was when he talked about Lynch with former Broncos great Terrell Davis.
“We’ve had some good days," Kubiak said. "We’ve had some real good days. It just wasn’t as good as it needed to be today. As long as I’ve been doing this, it’s the way it works. You just have to keep going and try to be consistent. That’s what we’re working towards.”
Lynch redeemed himself somewhat later in practice, leading the third team offense on a scoring drive, culminating in a nice touchdown pass to rookie tight end Henry Krieger-Coble. Lynch talked about his quest for consistency following practice.
“I didn’t come out here and have the best practice that I should have had today," Lynch said. "I don’t think a lot of us did, that’s why Kubiak said what he said whenever he pulled the team up and kind of got us going. At the end, you get a chance to finish practice even though you didn’t practice so well in the beginning. That’s sort of what I had in my head. I have one more drive for the rest of the day. That was the last rep that I was going to get today, so I had to make the best of it.”
At the end of the day, the Broncos QBs still have time to improve. But that Week 1 date with the Carolina Panthers will be come quicker than you'd think. And right now, none of the signal-callers have put enough distance between each other to have a sure-fire starter pegged.
“I don’t think anybody has taken off and done anything," Kubiak said. "I think they’ve all done what they did in the offseason. They all continue to do it. We’re just going here. We’ll start playing some people and playing some games. We’re going to find out.”
Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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