After a sluggish Wednesday practice, the Denver Broncos got back to work Thursday for Day 7 of training camp.
Emerging from a day off (Tuesday), the players weren't quite as focused and sharp as head coach Gary Kubiak expected them to be. He was much more approving of today's practice.
“I think we have time in practice where we have to push through this period and stuff like that," Kubiak said Thursday after practice. "That’s football. We have to continue to work on that and grow from that. We improved from yesterday, but we are practicing in 70 degrees today so we should be moving around pretty good. They’re responding. We just need to find our consistency in what we are doing.”
There's that C-word again—consistency. Each day, the Broncos will continue to work towards being more consistent.
Let's get to the news and notes from Day 7.
Virgil Green Stars
Things have kind of been quiet for Virgil Green. As the elder statesman of Denver's tight end group this year, he got off to a slow start, missing OTAs with a finger injury.
Thursday, however, he more than made up for his time away, making several key plays in the redzone during team period. His performance was duly noted by Coach Kubiak.
“Virgil is the red-hot player of the day here in Dove Valley," Kubiak said. "What a day he had. He made a bunch of plays in the redzone."
The Broncos have high expectations for Green this year, and expect him to lead the way in grooming first-year TE Jeff Heuerman. Green is working to have more of a role in the passing offense this year.
He has the skill-set to do it. But, for reasons that have never been quite clear, there's always been someone else ahead of him on the depth chart to take those passing looks away. However, the Broncos have a plan for Green this year.
"We have a little bit of a program we are working on with Virgil," Kubiak said. "We are trying to keep him healthier than we have in the past. I think he’s responded. It’s a competitive position that was just a little bit behind when we came to camp.”
Behind because both Green and Heuerman dealt with injuries during OTAs, preventing them from fully participating. As a unit, they seem to be gaining ground.
"I think Jeff [Heuerman] is doing a good job," Kubiak said. "A couple young players there are coming in. We just have to keep going."
Max Garcia Returns To Practice
The Broncos kept left guard Max Garcia out of Wednesday's practice, due to a rolled ankle he suffered during walk-throughs. He returned to practice today, albeit in a limited role.
"Max practiced limited today, but he did practice," Kubiak said.
The Broncos were without their top-3 guards yesterday, with Ty Sambrailo and Sam Brenner also missing time. Their absence gave rise to rookie Connor McGovern and it also gave the coaches the opportunity to get a look at Michael Schofield at left guard.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1692523-broncos-sign-ol-carlson-w... "Obviously Ty is going to be a day-to-day situation right now with his elbow," Kubiak said. "You have Connor [McGovern] and you have Schofield who slides in and out."
If Schofield can show a proficiency inside—hopefully better than what he's shown outside at tackle—it'll give the coaches more options in-season, if things go sideways and the injury bug strikes.
"Dillon Day and of course Brick [Ferentz] is going to have to play two spots. He is going to have to play some guard, along with center. That’s what helps you play seven guys. We are rotating them, giving them all an opportunity to compete.”
Harris and Webster Miss Practice
The Broncos were without cornerback Kayvon Webster yesterday. That trend continued Thursday, as he was forced to miss another practice with a sore quadriceps.
Pro Bowler Chris Harris, Jr. joined Webster on the sideline, as he deals with a little stiffness in his hamstring. As much as Harris resisted sitting, he ultimately chose to listen to his coaches.
“His hamstring tightened up," Kubiak said. "We had a purpose in practice this morning. We were trying to shorten the individuals, shorten some things and get to [team] practice quicker. Make them adjust, because that is how the game is. He was tight. He wanted to go, but I pulled him out.”
Denver's depth at corner showed itself today, with two top guys out. B.J. Lowery saw a significant increase in reps. Second-year players Lorenzo Doss and Taurean Nixon are showing real signs of improvement over their rookie campaigns.
“I think you saw Doss show up today," Kubiak said. "Doss had a really good day. Nixon is becoming such a better player. When your two starting corners are out, Bradley hadn’t missed a day. Bradley is really having a good camp. We’re finding out who is going to be four, five, six. Those types of things. It’s good competition.”
The sad truth of the NFL is that injury creates opportunity. The onus is on the next man up to capitalize and from the sounds of it, Denver's young group of corners are doing just that.
Miller and Okung Still Being Held Back
The Broncos are being extremely cautious with their $114.5 million man. After Von Miller skipped the entire offseason program, the Broncos are slowly working him back into full activity.
The same holds true for free agent acquisition Russell Okung. Okung is coming off an injury and the Broncos need him to anchor the offensive line at left tackle this year.
“Von is up about an hour and 25 minutes of practice right now," Kubiak said. "We haven’t went past that with he and Russell right now. That’s kind of a plan. We may stick to that through Chicago, before we take another step forward. He’s doing good. Von is on track.”
Better safe than sorry. In order for the Broncos to "chase" that next Lombardi Trophy, they'll need both players manning their respective slots on the roster.
Inconsistency Still The Theme For Denver's QBs
As we've covered ad nauseam, things aren't going great for Denver's trio of quarterbacks. Although each player has had their moments thus far in camp, they've yet to prove any consistency.
“Guys have good days and rough days," Kubiak said. "I think they are all doing good stuff and then there are struggles at times. It’s very, very competitive. I want to watch them play. I’m really excited. We play next week—a week from today. I want to get them out there. I am going to put a number of throws on each one of them. That’s going to have a lot to do with a decision making time to be honest. Right now, I think all of them continue to do their job and we’ll see.”
Just like the coaches, we'll be able to get a better understanding of exactly these signal-callers stand when the Broncos suit up vs. the Chicago Bears next Thursday in the opening preseason game.
Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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