Camp Day 5: Adjusting to the New Schedule

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – A mid-week day off that wasn’t caused by a preseason game. Pads only once a week during the regular season. No more two-a-days.

Upon ratification of the new collective bargaining agreement, these notions became new articles of high-level professional football’s intractable and ever-evolving constitution. In some quarters of the game, they were considered sacrilegious, as though the fabric of the NFL would gradually unravel because the chiseled behemoths couldn’t slam headlong into each other for four-plus hours on a searing summer’s day.

But just as the regulations of the sport evolve, so too does the approach of coaches and players to it. Even though the lockout forced even more tweaks onto them, they’ll adapt and evolve.

This starts with how players are graded on a day-by-day basis. With most rookies and all free-agent arrivals handed a playbook sometimes mere hours before their first practice, miscues that in previous camp would be borderline unforgivable are, for now, overlooked.

“They’re going to make some mistakes; we understand that,” said offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.

“The key thing is that they make progress, and you’ve got to evaluate on a talent level, one, on an execution level, and then also (on a) mental (level). Is it the same guy making a number of mistakes?

“You also have to give them a little bit of flexibility. The first night, we only had a couple hours of meetings, and we were out running a full practice the next day, so it’s going to come with time.

“We’ve got to be patient and understand that they’re going to make some mistakes, and that’s all part of learning.”

The “start-perfect, get-better” pressure of training camp has subsided, replaced for this year by evaluation that is more nuanced and forgiving — in keeping with the pace, which gives the Broncos a full day off from practice on Tuesday.

TRANSACTIONS/PERSONNEL NOTES: Free agent tight end Dante Rosario (Panthers) and defensive end Derrick Harvey (Jaguars) were signed. Tight end Daniel Fells (Rams) agreed to terms …

… Defensive tackle Marcus Thomas re-signed with the Broncos after testing the unrestricted free agent waters for 60-plus hours. Thomas made his “official visit” to his once and future workplace Sunday afternoon while the Broncos practiced …

… Denver dealt an undisclosed draft pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley …

… Wide receiver Marshall Williams, cornerback James Rogers and safety Nick Polk were waived to make room for Harvey, Fells and Bunkley.

ATTENDANCE REPORT: Running back LenDale White sat out a second consecutive day because of lower back spasms …

… Linebacker D.J. Williams remained sidelined with a thigh injury …

… Safety Brian Dawkins was in a jersey, but remained on the sideline in his customary floppy hat for a fifth consecutive day.

WHO’S WHERE: Defensive tackle Louis Leonard succumbed to what Fox termed as “wear and tear.” Mitch Unrein took his place on the first team …

… D.J. Williams’ continued absence kept Mohamed on the first team at weakside linebacker …

… Mario Haggan worked at linebacker, getting some extensive time in pass coverage during seven-on-seven work …

… The Broncos’ situational work included five- and six-defensive back packages. The dime included safety Darcel McBath and cornerback Perrish Cox with Goodman, Champ Bailey, Rahim Moore and Quinton Carter …

… Tim Tebow was the second quarterback up behind Kyle Orton, followed by Brady Quinn and rookie Adam Weber.

NOTING THE PRACTICE: Von Miller continued to excel as an edge rusher, twice blowing around tight end Richard Quinn and right tackle Orlando Franklin to burst into the backfield from the outside …

… Usually one-on-one passing drills involve a cornerback and wide receiver, but safety Rahim Moore had a chance to display his speed against Eric Decker, running step for step with the second-year wide receiver on a deep post route and easily breaking up the pass …

… Chevis Jackson intercepted a Brady Quinn pass during a team period, but Quinn bounced back with a solid performance during a team red-zone period, capping it by beating Jackson with a touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver D’Andre Goodman in the back of the end zone …

… During the same team red-zone period, Syd’Quan Thompson intercepted an errant Tebow pass in the back of the end zone that was intended for wide receiver Mark Dell. Moments earlier, Quinn had found Dell in double coverage for a touchdown …

… Joe Mays also intercepted a pass in the end zone, snatching away an Orton toss for Eddie Royal …

… The hit of the day came during a seven-on-seven period, when Nate Irving — in his last practice with jersey No. 91 — crushed wide receiver Britt Davis, forcing an incompletion.

NUMBERS GAME: Irving and Robert Ayers gained approval for the switch they’d wanted since training camp began. Both now wear their college numbers: Irving jersey No. 56 and Ayers No. 91 …

… Harvey will wear jersey No. 95. Rosario was issued No. 49 and Fells had jersey No. 86. All were in uniform for the walk-through Monday night, but none can practice until Thursday.

WEATHER REPORT: A warm morning greeted the Broncos, who practiced in temperatures that rose from 81 to 89 degrees during their time on the field. The evening walk-through took place amid occasional spits of drizzle and 79-degree temperatures.

NEXT PRACTICE: Wednesday afternoon at 2:20 p.m. MDT.

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About Andrew Mason

Andrew Mason has covered the NFL since 1999, when he worked as an editor on NFL.com when the site was managed by ESPN.com. He worked six seasons (2002-07) covering the Broncos on their official website and two (2008-09) on the Panthers' site. He began MaxDenver.com in 2010 and now contributes to CBSSports.com, The Sporting News and The New York Times.
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