Joe Mays finally gets his interception, Gerell Robinson makes a nifty touchdown grab, and more as the Broncos took their offseason curtain call.
Noting the day:
- It took tip drills for the first-team defense to get its hands on Peyton Manning’s passes during the final minicamp practice, but as linebacker Joe Mays noted, “it still counts.” Manning was intercepted in a red-zone period by Mays, who grabbed a pass tipped by D.J. Williams, and was also picked off by Rahim Moore after a Champ Bailey deflection. “It was a good play, but there’s a lot more plays to be made out there,” said Mays, who last week lamented his lack of interceptions off the four-time MVP. “I’m just going to make sure I get my mind right and body right in order to make more plays.
- Former Colts offensive coordinator Tom Moore concluded his stay in Denver by watching Wednesday’s practice and was impressed with how his former pupil, Peyton Manning, progressed. “He looked excellent to me,” Moore said. “There’s lots of things that enter into it, obviously, accuracy, anticipation, touch, arm strength, you know, it’s an all-involved thing. He looks good. He looks excellent to me.”
- Perhaps the nicest play of the day on offense belonged to wide receiver Gerell Robinson, who leapt over cornerback Syd’Quan Thompson to haul in a touchdown pass from Brock Osweiler during a red-zone period. Osweiler received more snaps than he did the previous two days and looked more comfortable than he appeared during the previous sessions that were open to media. He’s also done a good job of following coaches’ instructions to make sure his elbow doesn’t drop below the height of his shoulder when he throws. Osweiler’s still raw, but the flashes of prominence were there Thursday.
- Wide receiver Greg Orton has shown terrific body control during the practices, evidenced Thursday when he tip-toed in the back of the end zone to get both feet in and complete a touchdown grab from Caleb Hanie. Orton also has a graceful, long stride and uses it to cover a lot of ground in a hurry. His progress will be worth watching at training camp.
- The instructions from John Fox for the next few weeks were simple: for each player to “come back and be in the best shape of their life,” and, as defensive tackle Justin Bannan added, “to be accountable, to come out and do your job (and) train during these next five weeks. Guys that have been in this business for a while, they know what they have to do in this next five weeks.”
- While multiple players have noted the increased energy and optimism surrounding the Broncos at their offseason work, Bannan saw business as usual for this time of year. “To me, it’s all the same. I think the energy’s always high,” he said. “Everyone’s always optimistic. Everybody’s running around, doing what they can … Once the pads come on in training camp, then we’ll see what we’re all about.”
- Moore worked with the first team at safety for the second consecutive day. Quinton Carter was the first-team safety Tuesday.
- Bannan and Sealver Siliga remained the first-team defensive tackles. “I think Sealver is doing a tremendous job for us, so hopefully he comes back and maintains his progress,” said defensive end Elvis Dumervil.
- Steven Johnson continued to work behind Joe Mays at middle linebacker, leaving Nate Irving to handle the second-team work on the strong side. Danny Trevathan continued to work as a first-team linebacker in nickel packages.
- Rookie safety Duke Ihenacho made a brief cameo with the second team. Nearly all of his work to this point has been with the No. 3 defense.
- Derek Wolfe kept moving inside and out, playing end in the No. 2 base defense. Jason Hunter lined up on the opposite flank for the second unit; Ty Warren and Kevin Vickerson were in between.
- Although the Broncos have high hopes for running back Ronnie Hillman and guard/center Philip Blake, both of the draft picks will have to work their way up the depth chart. Hillman was the fourth running back up during a late-practice team period, while Blake is the third-team center behind J.D. Walton and offseason pickup C.J. Davis.
Next: Training camp. The Broncos can hold their first practice as early as July 26, two weeks before their preseason curtain-riser at Chicago.