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Broncos Training Camp Observations: Is it time to worry?

Zac Stevens Avatar
July 22, 2019


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos won Super Bowl 50 on the back of their defense.

After a few years of recovering from the backache from putting the team on their shoulders on the way to their championship run, it appears the defense is ready to try and do that once again in 2019.

As always, BSN Denver was on hand for Monday’s training camp practice. Here’s what went down during the team’s fifth practice of camp.


Vic Fangio couldn’t have set up the last period of practice any more fitting.

The scoreboard read 50 seconds left in the game. The offense had the ball near midfield. The score was 2-0, defense.

A fitting score considering the type of day it was for the offense.

Outside of the first and last pass play on the day, the first-team offense did zilch. Zero. Nada.

The day started with a nice connection 15 yards down the middle of the field from Joe Flacco to an open DaeSean Hamilton. First down.

After that, until the very, very end, first downs were few and far between.

Through a combination of overthrows, countless drops and sacks, the offense was as stagnant as could be. As with the first four practices of camp, the defensive line had their way with Denver’s offensive line from the outside in and left to right. You name it, the pocket was collapsing in every which way.

A bit unlike the past few practices, Flacco was not a fan of turning the burners on. Earlier in camp, Flacco looked comfortable escaping the pocket and making plays on the run. But not on Monday.

Regardless of whether he was on the run or comfortable in the pocket, things did not go Joe’s way.

If it wasn’t an errant throw, or one of the many drops, it was a batted ball at the line of scrimmage. From Adam Gotsis to Shelby Harris, batted balls were given out like candy on Halloween.

After back-to-back sacks (read below), Flacco was forced to throw off his back foot with Connor McGovern, the center, bearing down on him from the interior pressure. The pass sailed out of bounds. The very next play, Flacco was forced to just get rid of the ball after turning around from a play-action because Bradley Chubb was literally in his face.

The following team period with the first-team offense looked like this: Tipped ball, incomplete pass, Courtland Sutton drop, with pressure in Flacco’s face, of course.

After a grueling two hours of more of the same, there was a brief team meeting where everyone gathered in the middle of the field.

The meeting didn’t help.

Immediately after, Andy Janovich had a ball sail right through his hands, a Phillip Lindsay screen was blown up and Gotsis got his hands on another ball at the line of scrimmage.

Finally, finally, there was a bright spot. Flacco connected with Tim Patrick for 10 yards. But that momentum was quickly halted when Flacco attempted to connect with Sutton on the next play. Attempted being the keyword.

However, during the last period of practice, with their backs up against the wall (figuratively) and the ball near midfield (literally) down a whopping 2-0, they did just enough to deliver.

Following three incompletions, Flacco hit Sutton on the left side on a deep out for 12 yards on 4th-and-10. Next play, Flacco and Patrick connected to move in field goal position with 11 seconds left on the clock. Taylor Bertolet nailed the kick. Offense wins a barnburner, 3-2.

Drew Lock and his offense weren’t much better outside of completing a few more check-down-type passes. Lock constantly faced pressure and consistently had trouble connecting.

A great example of how the day went came near the end of practice courtesy of Lock. If it was a game, Lock would have been sacked instantly from the snap, but since it was only practice the coaches allowed the play to go on, after the fact likely wishing they didn’t.

Scrambling to his right, Lock lost the football, but after a few panicked bounces was able to corral it and get it off to a receiver. The pass was, of course, incomplete.

In one play there was a sack, fumble and incompletion.

After the disheveled practice, which included a few false starts, Fangio was asked if he’s concerned about the offense with their slow start to camp.

“Not really—I mean, yes, but not panic yet,” he said, saying all that needed to be said.

It’s now officially okay to be concerned about the Broncos’ offense.

The bright side? The defense looks exceptional.


It’s certainly not panic time for the pass rush, especially for the star of the group, No. 58.

As crazy as it seems, Von Miller’s had a rather quiet offseason. In fact, the most notable headline has been Fangio consistently challenging the future Hall of Famer to be better. This offseason, in terms of headlines and hype, it’s been the Chubb show.

But on the field, Von’s doing just fine.

Day in and day out, Miller has played a big role in making Flacco’s life more of a jog on the highway than a walk in the park.

On Monday, he had back-to-back sacks. The second was nothing to write home about—just a 250-pound superstar athlete bending the corner into the quarterback’s lap.

But the first was a thing of beauty.

After the snap, Flacco was in a world of trouble with defenders bearing down on him from all angles. A flash flew by the 6-foot-6 quarterback before Chubb and rookie linebacker Josh Watson collided with each other in Flacco’s vicinity attempting to avoid actually taking down Joe.

That flash was Von Miller.

Although Chubb and Watson were all over Flacco early, Von beat both of them as he had a magnificent jump and was off to the races.

There’s no need to worry about Von, he’s doing mighty fine.


Bryce Callahan was signed in the offseason to dominate in the slot. At least that’s what everyone believed.

But over the first few days of camp, he’s excelled so greatly outside, there’s a chance the smaller, shifty corner doesn’t play in the slot.

“He can play [outside] corner and he may end up being a [outside] corner for us. You may not see him in nickel,” Fangio stated on Friday to the surprise of many.

This shouldn’t be much a surprise to those that have watched him early in camp. Playing outside, Callahan has been a blanket on each and every receiver he’s matched up against.

On Monday, this was on full display against Denver’s self-appointed No. 1 receiver Courtland Sutton.

Until the final team period, where Sutton pulled in a 12-yard pass from Flacco for a first down with Bryce in coverage, Courtland was nowhere to be found. That was courtesy of one man, Callahan—or as he should be called Calla-Man.

The first four times Flacco looked Sutton’s way when he was going up against Callahan the play resulted in an incompletion.

Sutton couldn’t find an opening whether it be high—an area the second-year receiver thrives—low or anywhere in between. If the ball was in the vicinity of Sutton, Callahan was there to break it up.

The majority of the battles on Monday were on the left sideline on deep outs or comebacks. Those routes typically allow the receiver to find a few feet, or even yards, of separation coming out of the break. Not with No. 29 on them. There was no space to be found.

Flacco did air out one pass deep into the end zone for Sutton, but with Bryce on him, it didn’t matter. Incomplete.

This was nowhere to be seen one year ago from No. 29, that one being Bradley Roby. Sutton was the training camp darling in large part to making play after play on the now Texan.

With the Broncos switching out one No. 29 for another during the offseason, the outcome’s been a night and day difference.


  • DaeSean Hamilton was the recipient of the catch of the day award as he made a phenomenal one-handed-leaping catch on a ball thrown behind him in the middle of the field with his body completely stretched out.
  • Kelvin McKnight had the shake of the day during one-on-ones when he juked De’Vante Bausby so hard he not only made him fall, but he opened up 10 yards of separation for an easy catch.
  • Trinity Benson continued to shine, making catch after catch with every single unit. No. 2 is quickly climbing the ranks and grabbing everyone’s attention.
  • Joe Jones and Josh Watson played a significant portion of the team reps next to Josey Jewell filling in for Todd Davis. Watson made a few plays in the run game, filling in holes at the line of scrimmage.
  • Jamal Carter pulled in an interception off a tipped-Brett-Rypien pass during 7-on-7s.
  • Under pressure, Rypien hit Benson in-stride 30 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown. It was an excellent throw and catch under pressure by the rookies.
  • Juwann Winfree got hit in practice on Sunday and “his leg wasn’t feeling right” this morning so the team held him out of practice on Monday, according to Fangio. The promising receiver attended practice and didn’t have any noticeable limp.
  • Ron Leary did not practice Monday purely off protocol, according to Fangio. Vic pointed to this being the only time in camp where there are five practices in a row and it’s important to be smart with players coming off an injury as Leary is.
  • Jake Butt missed a second-straight practice Monday as he continues to recover from his ACL surgery. Fangio said there’s “no major concern” and this “kind of can be expected.”
  • Tuesday is the player’s first day off during camp, the team will be back on the field Wednesday.

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