The second and final joint practice between the Denver Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers is in the books. The next time they square off will be on Saturday night under the bright lights and in front of Denver's raucous home crowd.
“It’s another game. It’s an opportunity for a lot of guys," Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips said. "We’ll play our first group a little longer, but it’s really evaluating your team and evaluating where you are as a team, so we’re looking forward to that.”
Practicing against another group of guys has been somewhat of an oasis in the sprawling desert that is NFL training camp.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1681565-5-reasons-you-should-go-p... "I love it," Von Miller said. "I wish all four weeks would be like that. It would definitely make camp go a whole lot faster. The moral was good going against another team. You get tired of beating up on each other for weeks. Plus, I know half of those guys anyway, so it’s pretty fun.”
The Broncos were tired of beating up on one another. It did not, however, appear that the 49ers and Broncos were tired of beating up on each other. Let's see how it went.
Trevor Gets the Nod
Despite being decidedly undecided after yesterday's practice, Gary Kubiak finally named the Saturday night's starting quarterback.
"Trevor will start," Kubiak said. "He and Mark will consistently play the same amount, which I’d like to tell you is a quarter and a half, but it’ll probably be more of a play count. Trevor will start, then Mark will go and then Paxton will finish up.”
This should come neither as a surprise nor an indictment of Mark Sanchez. It's standard practice in any two-headed quarterback duel to give each guy a start in the preseason.
One of the big things to watch during the first half offensively is the balance in play calling. Against Chicago, the Broncos threw the ball 25 times in the first half versus just eight runs. Obviously the quarterbacks need to be evaluated, but expect the offense to dial up a few more run plays and mix in the bootleg with Trevor Siemian, who spent a lot of time in the shotgun against the Bears.
None of the quarterbacks played quite as well as they did in the aerial exhibit yesterday, which also means that little separation has been gained from one another.
“They’ve been splitting it right down the middle," Kubiak said. "Mark started last week. They should both play with the ones, some way this week. We’ll see how the reps pan out.”
Finally, when the head coach was asked whether or not he would announce a regular season starter next week, Kubiak dutifully answered the question. As well as a couple of his own.
“Would I like to? Yes. Will I? We’ll see."
One would assume that the Broncos would want a starter in place before the Week 3 dress rehearsal, but it would be a mistake to crown one of them too hastily. For that reason, I wouldn't recommend you hold your breath waiting for an announcement next week unless one of them suddenly looks like the next coming of Joe Montana on Saturday, which feels about as likely as the 49ers offense putting up 55 points on the No-Fly Zone.
Calmer Than You Are
Does familiarity breed contempt? At least in the case of these two teams, it appears so.
It looked like Smith gave Ferentz a sarcastic pat on the head after the play was over, and Ferentz did what any rational person would do and started throwing punches at the hard plastic shell and thick padding that is otherwise known as a football helmet. Sounds about right.
Not long after, more shoving was initiated and Kubiak decided enough was enough, pulling the offense off to the side of the field.
“I told them, ‘Do you want to practice now or do you want to come back tonight?’ We were too busy with other stuff, personal agendas, instead of practicing football," Kubiak recounted. "We settled down and finished up.”
The odd thing was that, while the offense took a collective deep breath on the sideline, the 49ers defense stayed put. Chip Kelly isn't exactly what you would call a player's coach, but it's a strange move not to speak with your guys after the bare-knuckle street fight that was Thursday morning practice.
Clearly the Broncos offense and 49ers defense didn't exactly get along, but what about the other side of the ball?
"We didn’t have any problems," Chris Harris said. "I don’t think they wanted to test us like that, the defense that is.”
I don't blame them.
If nothing else, the physicality is an interesting subplot to keep an eye on when Saturday mercifully rolls around. Another thing to keep an eye on is how well Ferentz snaps the ball with those boxing gloves on his hands.
Wolfe Feeling Good
When defensive end Derek Wolfe went down in practice yesterday, panic erupted and fingers were crossed. It turned out to be just a minor ankle injury, and the only uncertainty was whether or not he would be able to go this weekend.
That, too, has been resolved.
“Derek is fine," Kubiak said. "I expect Derek back tomorrow for our light practice. I expect him to play. He is doing well. Derek is doing well.”
Well, that was quick. Wolfe must really want to get in on this preseason action, and it helps that he has the recovers from injuries like the T-1000.
Wolfe is an elite piece on a dominant defensive front, but some serious depth has been emerging behind him. Rookie Kyle Peko has been getting increased snaps while second-year defensive lineman Darius Kilgo has shown in versatility.
“He’s playing both spots," Kubiak said. "He’s going to have to. Like Vance [Walker], he is going to have to play both spots. We’ll see.”
Great teams overcome adversity and injury, and having Swiss Army Knife-types will come in handy when the latter occurs. Next man up, as they say.
It's been real.
To get instant Broncos notifications, download the NEW Scout mobile app for iOS HERE!
Will Keys is an Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @WillKeys6.