First impression—where were the fans?
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As a newbie to the phenomena of Broncos camp and having seen the video from last year, I was expecting a much larger crowd on opening day. Most estimates had it in the 2,000 range—was it the Peyton Manning factor? A Tuesday morning? A leap year? I’m sure Friday and Saturday will be crazy.
The fans that were there, were engaged. Von Miller came out to chants of “MVP, MVP”—so that was a good way to start the day.
Undoubtedly, they were curious to see the three quarterbacks—not like two hours of work gives you much to glean from.
Mark Sanchez took most of the snaps with the first team, although Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch both cycled through with ‘ones’ during various drills.
Siemian is the only one who threw an interception during the day and Lynch was the only one who got to throw a deep route in 11 on 11. Head coach Gary Kubiak was pleased with Sanchez’ day saying that the veteran was “sharp and confident.” As for Sanchez, he claims to be getting more comfortable with the system and the personnel in it.
I asked him about his confidence in the huddle. “I’m just trying to keep it simple,” he said. Obviously, Sanchez understands the type of quarterback he needs to be in this system—more of a manager than a play maker, except on third down, of course.
On a different note, he chuckled about his timing in battling for the Broncos job. “I came into New York just as Brett (Favre) had left, now I’m following one of the greatest to ever play the game.” Hey, no pressure, right?
Every player we asked talked about how important it was to have Von Miller’s energy back on the field. “He’s our leader,” said Bradley Roby. “Von loves to play,” added Kubiak, who said that they will slowly build on the 40 minutes of work Miller got Thursday.
There are four new starters across the offensive front—it was particularly good to see highly regarded Russell Okung getting his work in. These guys won’t get as much attention as the Broncos defense, the quarterback competition and the depth in the receiving corps—but they are central in this team’s ability to improve offensively.
There are 12 receivers in camp. It’s a group that Kubiak thinks could be the best he’s ever been around. Demaryius Thomas, rocked a little by the criticism of too many dropped passes last year, caught everything thrown his way Thursday. Beyond that, Kubiak claimed that he texted with his star pass catcher “five or six times last week” on things he needs to focus on. He called Thomas’ effort Thursday “very good.”
Marlon Brown had a couple good grabs on ‘out’ routes. At 6’5”, the former Ravens receiver is a good size and had his best season when Kubiak was offensive coordinator with the Ravens in 2014.
They worked on kick returns for a while Thursday. Jordan Norwood and Kalif Raymond got all the return reps. Norwood is also one of the candidates for the club’s third receiver. I’m not sure the battle for the third receiver won’t be the most hotly contested in camp.