Practice Squad: Broncos Place Premium on Camp Experience

Eron Riley

RILEY: ... stellar game performances in preseason earned him a longer look in practice.

DENVER – The need for the Broncos to add players from other teams seemed obvious after the roster was trimmed to 53 men on Saturday. But to general manager Brian Xanders, the answer wasn’t all that simple.

“There are a couple names that are interesting on the wire, but we’ll see how it goes and what the shake-out is,” Xanders said then. “Do you claim that person over someone we’ve trained for five weeks?”

By late Sunday afternoon, the answer was clear — the Broncos placed high value on those weeks in their system.

As of that point, the Broncos had not claimed anyone off waivers, had created a practice squad comprised entirely of players they waived Saturday and only brought in one newcomer — ex-Patriots cornerback Jonathan Wilhite, who was released last Monday, prior to the first cutdown.

To make room for Wilhite, the Broncos waived Darcel McBath, severing ties with the last remaining member of the 2009 second-round class that included cornerback Alphonso Smith and tight end Richard Quinn.

The eight-man practice squad includes running back Jeremiah Johnson, fullback Austin Sylvester, quarterback Adam Weber, offensive tickle Adam Grant, wide receivers Eron Riley and D’Andre Goodwin, defensive end Jeremy Beal, safety Kyle McCarthy.

Five of the eight are rookies, including one draft pick (Beal). All proved more attractive at the moment than the alternatives from other NFL precincts.

“The coaches have spent hundreds of hours — I think 35 or 40 practices with these guys — training them, so there is always a balance there,” Xanders said Saturday.

“We’re actually playing NFL games now, and if they are active on gameday, they have to know our playbook and our scheme, and we’ll weigh that in our decision.”

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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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