It’s too bad that impending thunderstorms forced the Broncos to move up their practice and conduct it in front of a few handfuls of VIPs and credentialed media.
Had the typical throng of 4,000 witnessed it, they would have gone bonkers witnessing Peyton Manning run a two-minute drill.
The offense was given a scenario in which it had one timeout, 70 seconds on the clock and 60 yards to go to the end zone. Trailing 20-14, only a touchdown would do — which Manning found after hitting Brandon Stokley for a 26-yard pass on fourth-and-10 and Demaryius Thomas for a 33-yard gain up the left sideline to the 1-yard-line.
Manning hit Stokley two plays later for the score, and the No. 1 offense had what it wanted.
“Impressive. And it’s just making us better,” said safety Mike Adams, who intercepted a pass later in practice but came up short of a big play in the two-minute drill.
“It’s getting us conditioned and mentally focused as well, because we have to make those calls and get it out quick, because Peyton, he gets the offense going,” continued Adams, snapping his fingers for emphasis. “Once he gets it going, you don’t have time to make that call and there’s a problem.”
As many times as Manning has run the offense, he could still use the practice — even with Stokley and tight end Jacob Tamme, his former Colts teammates, knowing him well.
“It’s something you’ve got to really get out on the field and do,” said Tamme. “You know, there’s really not a way to prepare yourself for it, other than doing what you can do to simulate it in the offseason, so getting out there and doing it was good.”
- The two-minute drill wasn’t as kind to the second and third offenses. Caleb Hanie’s possession with the second team ended in an interception; the same was true for Adam Weber with the third unit, although Weber drove the offense 32 yards before the drive ended in a Syd’Quan Thompson interception near the goal line. Brock Osweiler didn’t get a chance to lead a two-minute drive during Wednesday’s work.
- Mike Adams continued to be among the Broncos receiving kickoff return repetitions, but acknowledged that he was “just a mercy guy” in regard to that work. “If they need me back there, I’ll be back there,” Adams said. “I did it a little bit when I was with Cleveland with Josh Cribbs. When they got scared to kick it to Josh, they’d kick it to me, squib it to me.”
- It was a productive day for Demaryius Thomas, who had deep receptions in one-on-one and team periods earlier in practice before grabbing the pass from Manning in the two-minute drill.
- Derek Wolfe spoke July 26 of how he knew he’d need to work on a variety of moves because the bull rush with which he excelled at the University of Cincinnati wouldn’t work on savvier, stronger NFL linemen. But there are times it still comes through — as was the case during the second-team duel during the two-minute drill period. Wolfe took off at the snap and pushed right tackle Adam Grant back a few steps into Caleb Hanie for a sack and a six-yard loss. Wolfe also worked with the first unit in nickel and dime packages Wednesday as a defensive tackle.
- Cornerback Joshua Moore (hamstring) was in a jersey, but no pads.
- Safety Quinton Carter is now grappling with a knee problem in addition to the hamstring injury he suffered July 27.
- Right tackle Orlando Franklin continues to be held out because of a concussion he suffered July 28.
- Wide receiver Eric Decker didn’t work beyond the individual period of practice after suffering a groin strain.
- Wide receivers Greg Orton and D’Andre Goodwin were both lost to ankle injuries. Goodwin’s injury was serious enough to where it required on-field examination by team medical personnel, but he was able to put weight on the aching ankle as he was helped from the field.
- Running back Ronnie Hillman succumbed to a hamstring injury.
- “I think this is about when they start cropping up,” Broncos coach John Fox said of the mounting slight injuries. “Some you play through every year. It’s all part of training camp.”
- Chris Harris got another look as the nickelback during the practice and took a few snaps at right cornerback in the base package.
- Chris Clark continued to fill in for Orlando Franklin at right tackle. Ryan Harris, considered a backup option at right tackle, saw some repetitions with the second unit at left tackle.
- Knowshon Moreno and Lance Ball both saw some first-team work in relief of Willis McGahee, the better to help both build timing with Manning.
- Decker’s injury meant that Andre Caldwell saw plenty of work in three-wideout sets.
- Jason Hunter saw some first-team work at defensive end. Robert Ayers rotated in with the second team.
- Justin Bannan was back at practice, but with his playing still limited because of his calf injury, Mitch Unrein continued to get looks on the first team.
- David Bruton saw some first-team work when it went into six-defensive back formations.
- It wasn’t the weather during the practice that was notable; temperatures lingered in the 80s with sunny skies that grew more cluttered with clouds throughout the session. No, it was the severe thunderstorm that drenched Dove Valley beginning with the final plays of practice and sent the Broncos scurrying into shelter a few minutes early. The storm threat spurred the Broncos to move up practice three hours and 45 minutes; the re-scheduling forced them to close practice to the public.
- Thursday morning at 8:50 a.m. MDT. The gates open at 7:50 a.m.