The pads stayed off and the pace slowed as game prep became priority number one. Legends, past and present, were on hand as former Broncos gathered with current Broncos on the team's Alumni Day.
Finally, after 13 days of squaring off against one another, the Broncos are ready to take their collective August aggression out on someone else.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1688594-mhh-premium-how-you-can-s... "We are ready to hit somebody else," Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips said. "It’s time to play. I don’t want to be like I was last year where I got hit on the sideline. I’m not talking about that, I’m talking about our players. I got run over last year by a Pittsburgh guy. He’s not playing this year.”
They may not be playing the Steelers, but Phillips has his group ready to hit.
“I'm really excited to cut loose, go out there and hit another body," rookie safety Will Parks said. "It's part of my game, going out there and making my presence felt.”
Parks and his fellow rookies will get their first taste of NFL football on Thursday, while the veterans will finally earn their reprieve from the rigor and doldrums of the offseason. But before that could happen, there was one more day of practice to tackle. Let's take a look.
Sanchez to Start
In a somewhat unsurprising move, head coach Gary Kubiak designated Mark Sanchez as the starting quarterback for Thursday. Like in practice, the allotment of snaps has been measured out and will be distributed accordingly.
“Mark and Trevor will play a quarter a piece and Paxton will play the second half," Kubiak said. "That’s the plan.”
After Kubiak returned to the film room and reviewed today's practice, the smoke signal billowed out from the chimney and Mark Sanchez was anointed the number one.
According to the plan that Kubiak had presented earlier, Sanchez will play the first quarter, Siemian will trot out for the second, and rookie Paxton Lynch has the whole second half to himself.
On the field this morning, Sanchez exhibited just why the coaches pegged him to start. Able to shake off a couple of sub-par performances, number six found wide receiver Demaryius Thomas in the end zone on two occasions.
Trevor Siemian also was able to flash some of his ability, showing off his big arm on a long touchdown to slot receiver Jordan Norwood. He may not have won the first start of the preseason, but a solid performance could easily allow him to leapfrog Sanchez by week two or three.
Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison likes what he's been seeing lately out of the second-year quarterback.
“There’s just more consistency," Dennison said. "He really understands what he’s supposed to do and how he’s supposed to do it. That translates to consistent play and performance out there. I think that’s what he’s given us.”
As for the rookie, inconsistency once reigned once again. Lynch threw a deep ball that was picked off by cornerback B.J. Lowery. It could be an early rookie wall that's stifling Lynch, but Thursday's game will be a massive opportunity to get on the right track and build some momentum heading toward the regular season.
And to some degree, that's the case for all three of them. With the dead heat at quarterback, live snaps will be telling as to who can put it all together against another quality NFL opponent.
"They don’t get to tackle us [in practice] fortunately," Dennison said. "That’s a part of it. What you’re going to do with live rush and how you adjust to that. Games are just fast. We practice as fast as we can, but certainly it is a lot faster out there.”
Let's hope they aren't tackled too much on Thursday. However, with Michael Schofield starting at right tackle and an unknown quantity in Darrion Weems starting at right guard, we might have to hold our breath as Pernell McPhee shoots across the line.
Von in Great Shape
The MVP of Super Bowl 50 may not have participated in organized team activities before signing his new contract this summer, but that hasn't kept him from returning to the best shape of his life. Von Miller commented on a question about his conditioning.
"It hasn’t been an issue," Miller said. "I haven’t been too light or too heavy. It’s been the same. I haven’t been in shape like this since coming out of college. My conditioning, running to the ball and running here doing the conditioning in the weight room, it’s never been like that. I’d like to think that I’d be ready to go here in a couple weeks.”
It might be a result of the cardio from Dancing with the Stars, or it might just be from swearing off mozzarella sticks from the movie theater. Either way, it's a plus for the Broncos pass rushing capabilities. Unfortunately, it doesn't mean he'll be seeing the field in Chicago. However, he'll still be sure to soak in the gameplan.
"I’m on the sideline and I always want to know the play,"Miller said. "I always want to know what’s going on. I pay attention to my position. I pay attention to the coverage that we have. I’m a pro. I’m never too far away for the game this week. I’ll be right there on the sideline. I’m going to know every play and all the coverage we’re in. Just get game reps even though I’m not in the game.”
As the regular season inches closer and closer, Miller acknowledged that the fan fair and whirlwind of media attention from the Super Bowl has been switched off since his return to football activities.
“I’d like to think it is back to normal. That was the norm for a little bit, and that was fun. Being here with my teammates, being here with my guys, being in the locker room and joking with the cooks and the film guys, that’s me. That’s the Von that I am every day. I’m back to normal here with the Denver Broncos, but on TV and all that stuff, that’s offseason stuff. I’m here in the season back to regular Von.”
Superman is one thing, but Regular Von is undoubtedly all the Broncos could ask for after one of the best playoff stretches an NFL defender has ever put together.
Rookies Get Their First Shot
There's only so much you can glean about the entrenched starters during the preseason. Most of the excitement from watching games in August comes from keeping a close eye on the progression of drafted and undrafted rookies. The Broncos have plenty that are ready to make a splash on Thursday.
Rookie defensive end Adam Gotsis had some thoughts ahead of the preseason opener.
It obviously means a lot," Gotsis said. "It's going to be my first game as a Bronco. In that respect, it means a lot, but it's just football. You just have to go out there and play.”
It's not just his first NFL game, however, it's also his first football game since tearing his ACL last Halloween. But when asked whether he'll be nervous before hitting Soldier Field, Gotsis didn't sound like he expects too many pre-game jitters.
“I don't think so," Gotsis said. "You just treat it as any other game and you just go out there and play ball.”
Safety Will Parks also chimed in on his nerves as he makes the jump from Pac-12 to NFL competition. His answer was a little different from that of Adam Gotsis.
“I'm really nervous," Parks said. "Coach is up there and he's looking at me. I'm nervous because I'm excited. It's an excited nervous. So many kids dream of this opportunity and I can go out there and showcase what I can do at that stage. It's a dream come true.”
Hopefully it's nothing that can't be solved by a big hit or an interception.
Until next time...
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Will Keys is an Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @WillKeys6.