I made my annual visit to Denver Broncos training camp on August 4th. Here are some pictures and early impressions of the team:
The Broncos have a nice setup for visiting fans as you can sit close to the action on one sideline. This night started out rainy so it diminished the size of the crowd some. My son and I sat on the 20 yard line and found much of the action was on our end of the field.
All eyes were on Tim Tebow. He looked the same to me as last year. He is not as accurate a passer as Orton and Quinn, but he is always a running threat.
Here's a shot of Tebow making a good gain after scrambling out of the pocket. He still has the tendency to run from the pocket too soon. The Broncos also worked on several designed running plays with Tebow (including option plays). I wouldn't be surprised if we see Tebow used much like last year in short yardage situations if he doesn't win the starting job.
Orton looked the best of the quarterbacks to me - much more accurate than Tebow on the short to intermediate passes. On this night Orton's long passes were off as he missed on several big gains.
I didn't see Orton and Tebow interact much at all during the practice. Orton did spend a lot of time talking to Brandon Lloyd during the stretching period. I'm sure Lloyd is happy to have Orton still around.
Brady Quinn looked much more composed to me than he did last year when I visited camp. The difference between Quinn and Orton wasn't that much.
Knowshon Moreno has slimmed down from last year, and there were a number of times he was split wide in a formation. I still like Knowshon as a receiving threat. On this night I thought Willis McGahee looked the best of the running backs. Willis is bigger than Knowshon and had one nice run on a cutback where he showed good burst through the line.
I've read rookie tight end JT Thomas has been the surprise of camp and I thought he looked good tonight.
Rookie offensive tackle Orlando Franklin is huge! He'll be an asset in the running game but I sure wish the Broncos had re-signed Ryan Harris. Franklin is going to need some work in pass protection.
Robert Ayers (#91) looked beefed up to me compared to last year when he played linebacker. I liked how Ayers played the run last year before he got hurt and I think he can be more effective at his natural position this year of defensive end.
I thought the receivers as a whole looked very good. Brandon Lloyd and Eddie Royal are breakaway threats while Eric Decker (#87) gives the team some size at the wideout until Demaryius Thomas comes back.
Speaking of Demaryius (#88) he watched practice and is supposed to be back later in the year. It was good to see he was out of a cast as he recovers from a torn achilles.
Head coach John Fox oversaw the practice, pretty much letting his assistants do the coaching while stepping in periodically to talk to a player (like here with Brandon Lloyd)
The practice concluded with a goal line drill, with all the players gathered around cheering their offensive and defensive units, respectively. The highlight here was a great stick by rookie linebacker Nate Irving dropping a running back for a loss. I didn't notice #1 pick Von Miller much tonight but I was paying more attention to the quarterbacks and offensive skill positions.
Overall it was another good visit to camp. It is rare that you can get this close to see NFL players in action.