The Denver Broncos began their mandatory minicamp on Tuesday. With the Denver Nuggets’ championship game still raging in the city, the Broncos got to work.
Broncos head coach Sean Payton congratulated the Nuggets on winning their first NBA title at the start of the news conference.
“It means a lot to this city. There’s nothing like it. It’s special to let the confetti fall on these guys because of what they’ve achieved. We always use (phrase), ‘They’ll always be walk together. “That team will — forever,” Payton said.
Here are some observations from my Tuesday practice.
I worry about the Broncos’ depth at the pass rusher and edge position. Randy Gregory is a star player, but he’s been injured all the time. Having never played a full season in his career, I wouldn’t predict this is the first one to happen. Instead, I think Gregory is good for about 10 games. Anything beyond that should be considered a bonus.
Opposite Gregory, the plan should be Baron Browning. We learned on Tuesday that Browning will start the 2023 season on the PUP roster, returning from offseason meniscus surgery. That means he will miss the first six weeks of the regular season. After that, Browning should be able to get on the field and play at near full capacity — though he’ll have to get into football then.
Jonathan Cooper has looked good this offseason. He has the potential to make that leap this year, as many (myself included) expect. To have Cooper on the other side of Gregory, the Broncos made a deal with veteran Frank Clark. He could be a solid starter for the team, but the aging veteran will have to get help from Cooper to stay fresh.
Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph will have to be aggressive and creative when it comes to creating pressure while keeping defenses fresh.
Payton understands that pressure can come from many places.
“You have to impact the quarterback in a certain way. It’s a lot of stuff. If you don’t stop the run, it’s hard to impact the quarterback. If you’re successful in stopping the run, then you’re going to get those things that you’re going to see. Distance of multiple defensive packages based on trends. Hopefully our outside linebacker position is someone we view as a pressure player. You don’t have to be an outside linebacker to be a pressure player. You can be a great inside lineman, but There are some peculiarities, too. You can’t just check that box,” Payton said.
If there’s one thing that stands out this offseason, it’s that Payton has brought a new culture to his team and everyone in the building. We can’t talk too much about what we saw in practice, but I must say I do like the pace of my weekly viewings. When fans come to training camp, they will see a very different style from the “training camp” under former head coach Nathaniel Hackett in 2022.
There is a lot of teaching in practice. That doesn’t mean things will slow down, but it means coaches can closely coach their players. Every rep counts and you can feel the pressure the players put on to impress the new coaching staff. They are taking on the challenges of the work environment and the players are responding.
I think Payton changed the mentality of this team. It’s not time to get into training camp just yet, but it’s time to put in worthwhile work before you take a month or so off. Starting quarterback Russell Wilson led the way with his work ethic, and his teammates responded to his leadership. I think it also comes from Payton’s guidance. This team wants to work hard and you can see them working hard on the field in training.
Payton knows what it takes to create a culture—time and patience.
“It’s like a garden – it needs tending every day. You have to have an open and honest conversation and not be afraid of confrontation or the truth. I think the players still want that. In fact, I know they do. Then, you start doing something. It’s over. I do think it starts with the right people in the building. Not just the players, not just the coaches. We’re in a business of passion and you’re looking for all those traits,” Payton said.
confidence comes from
Payton discusses some of his pass-catchers after practice. WR Courtland Sutton and WR Tim Patrick were both talked about, so I can share some of my thoughts here. We saw Patrick recover from a knee injury he suffered during training camp last year. Patrick looked good, and he didn’t seem to miss a beat. He hasn’t fully recovered yet, but by the time late July and early August roll around, I hope Patrick will be doing well.
Sutton is a player that I think a lot of people are sleeping on. As previously reported, he’s been looking into what New Orleans Saints WR Michael Thomas is doing under Payton. I can’t say what route or combination Sutton is using, but Payton did say he’s playing “X” wide receiver, which is what Thomas played in New Orleans.
I’d say Sutton has a good impression of Thomas. In fact, I tweeted a few weeks ago that he looks more explosive than he has in years. Every practice I’ve watched with Sutton this year has left a deep impression on me. Yes, WR Jerry Jeudy could be a prime target in a run-heavy system, but it would be foolish to count Sutton out based on his performance this offseason. The battle for the No. 1 job in training camp will be interesting.
You can see, Peyton discussed, how confident Patrick and Sutton are.
“I’ve said it a million times. Confidence comes from demonstrating ability. We can hope to have confidence, and you can say, ‘I have confidence.’ “We’ve all seen moments when a player suddenly does something in a game — so it has to come from the ability to show. One of his catches today gave the young man confidence that he could do it again. That’s it Growth spurts. That’s not desirable. Eventually, you hit the big shot, or you pass the ball, and then there’s incremental growth. We’ve all seen it — everyone who’s covered sports has seen people in the We’re growing right in front of our eyes,” Payton said.
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