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Denver Broncos Training Camp Takeaways: The most underrated Bronco makes his case again

Zac Stevens Avatar
July 30, 2021

Editor’s note: Welcome into one of many, many takeaway pieces to come during Broncos training camp. A staple of DNVR’s training camp coverage, these stories will be posted after each and every practice of camp. Who is standing out, who is lagging behind and who is looking like the favorite in each of the position battles? Those questions and many more will be answered right here.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The first day of training camp was about the stars. Von Miller and Jerry Jeudy shined on Wednesday to open camp.

Thursday, however, was about the players that don’t get the attention and praise they deserve.

Touchdown Tim

Tim Patrick didn’t have one touchdown on Thursday. He didn’t have two. He made his way into the end zone for six three times. Touchdown Tim accounted for over half of Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater’s combined touchdowns on the day.

All of them came during the red zone period.

Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton will continue to get the attention and hype, as they should. But Patrick is continuing to prove that despite constantly being overlooked, he has to be a staple in the red zone along with Jeudy, Sutton and Noah Fant.

During the team’s red zone period to end practice, Patrick was the target Teddy and Drew looked at more than the rest of the team combined.

Lock took the first rep of the period. After stepping up in the pocket and scrambling to the right to avoid pressure, Drew dumped it off to Tim for the easy touchdown. Patrick stayed with the play as it broke down and found a hole in the defense as Lock bought time. Easy score.

After touchdown passes to Seth Williams and Eric Saubert, Patrick hauled in the final two scores of the day.

Off a quick play action fake from the gun, Lock zipped the ball out to Tim in the left flat at the four yard line. The veteran receiver caught it looking back at Lock then immediately flipped his shoulders upfield to run the short distance into the end zone. Patrick Surtain had an angle to potentially take Tim out at the three yard line, but made the very wise move to pull up.

Tim’s final touchdown of the day was unquestionably his best. In fact, it was without a doubt the play of the day (read below).

Tearing up the trenches

Shelby Harris. Justin Strnad. McTelvin Agim. Jonathan Harris. Jonathon Cooper.

Those are some of the names that made their way into Denver’s backfield on passing plays and running plays on Thursday.

After not a spectacular day to open camp on Wednesday, Fangio’s front seven got after everyone on the offensive side on Thursday. It started with Lock’s first drop back of practice.

Snapping the ball from under center, Lock had time to take maybe one step before Strnad flew through the middle of the offensive line and would have blown up Drew before he was able to take his second step. Other defensive lineman followed Strnad.

During the next team period, it was a similar story. This time it was Bridgewater who barely had time to think as Shelby was in his face almost immediately. However, Teddy was able to get the ball off and hit Sutton for the first down.

The very next play, though, the defense didn’t let Bridgewater get the ball off. Right as Bridgewater turned his head coming off a play action boot, the defense was there to greet him. In a game, the hit wouldn’t have been pretty.

Two players later, Jonathan Harris and Alexander Johnson were in the backfield before Drew had time to process any part of the play. It would have been an immediate sack for Jonathan Harris as the interior of the offensive line was exposed once again.

Potentially to avoid the interior pressure, Lock’s next pass attempt was a boot to the right. But pressure from the outside forced him to throw it off his back foot for an incompletion. Shelby Harris followed that incompletion up with a batted pass at the line of scrimmage.

Unsurprisingly, Von Miller was part of the defensive dominance too. Coming out of a bootleg to the right, Von was there to greet Teddy. Bridgewater quickly found a receiver in the flat just yards before Miller would have taken him down.

Although pads weren’t on, it was the same story in the run game. Holes for running back were hard to come by. Melvin Gordon, Javonte Williams and Mike Boone found their most success cutting to the outside because there just wasn’t much open inside all day long.

The defense dominated the trenches on Thursday.

Play of the Day

The final play of practice was the best.

From roughly the eight-yard line, Bridgewater caught the chest-high snap in the gun, flipped the ball to grip the laces and immediately floated it to the right corner of the end zone. There was no doubt in Teddy’s mind he was going to toss it up to Tim. And rightfully so.

Smothered in coverage by All-Pro Kyle Fuller, Bridgewater put the ball only where Patrick could catch it. The 6-foot-4 receiver used his big frame to box out any hope of Fuller getting in the way, and pulled the ball down over his left shoulder before tapping both feet in just before the white line.

Self-proclaimed official Brandon McManus was right there and threw his hands up signaling the touchdown.

Two horns sounded to end practice on that note.

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Teddy Bridgewater — For a second-straight day, Bridgewater was almost perfect completing passes. On Wednesday, however, he wasn’t able to find the end zone. He changed that on Thursday thanks to a perfect red-zone period.

Justin Strnad — After an injury wiped out his rookie year, Strnad flashed his potential with a sack on Lock early in practice.

Calvin Anderson — Not only has Fangio continued to harp that Anderson very much has a chance to win the starting job, he’s proving it with the team’s actions. On Wednesday, Anderson got the first shot to start at right tackle. After practice, Fangio said “every day will be somebody different” getting a shot at right tackle. However, on Thursday, it was Anderson again. As the head coach said earlier in the week, “You don’t want to go to sleep on Calvin.”

Caden Sterns — The rookie safety picked off Brett Rypien during 7-on-7s. The fifth-round pick read the play the entire time and was in a perfect position to easily snatch the ball and take it the other way. The defensive-minded head coach had significant praise for the rookie after practice. “He’s done a good job of picking up our defense, learning it and being able to graduate from Level 1 to Level 2 and Level,” Fangio said. “Meaning not just knowing his job and making sure he’s doing that, but maybe putting a little extra on the Sunday and see more. That comes with experience. His clock, in that regard, has been fast.”

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Drew Lock — While Lock had an impressive red-zone period, he struggled mightily in the team periods leading up to that.

Quinn Meinerz — Still very much in the process of learning the center position, Fangio wasn’t kind to the rookie by sending blitzing backers his way multiple times on Thursday. Meinerz understandably struggled as he continues to make the incredibly large transition from Division III football to the NFL, not to mention he hasn’t played a real game in nearly two years due to COVID-19 wiping out his final season. Additionally, when asked if there is a competition at center between the rookie and Lloyd Cushenberry, Fangio said, “I think Meinerz first has to show that it needs to be a competition.” Early on, it appears the rookie will need time. But realistically, that should have been expected from the moment Denver drafted him in the third round.

Quote of the Day

“From Chubb we know what he’s going to give and with everybody that we have—everybody’s going to be healthy this year. I expect big things from everybody on our line. Everyone always want to say they expect 10-plus sacks, but I think everybody can do it across the board. We’re very confident in our group, and I really feel like we can make a difference.” — Shelby Harris, who also made sure to yell “Fear the Deer” multiple times in celebration of his Milwaukee Bucks’ championship.

Injury and Availability

Bradley Chubb has been a limited participant in the first two practices, however Fangio said he’ll “be back soon.” Fangio also added that in hindsight, Chubb should have had the minor surgery to remove a bone spur earlier this offseason to allow him more time to heal. Fortunately, the head coach added, “it was good that he did. Not that it was bad, but it was very easily fixable. It wasn’t as bad as they thought it would be or could be.”

Courtland Sutton began participating in team activities during camp but is still very much limited. After practice, Fangio said he’s noticed the Pro Bowl receiver “holding back a little bit” as he returns from a torn ACL he suffered last year. “I see a little hesitancy,” Fangio added. “I don’t want to alarm the alarm. It’s not, but he’s progressing. He’s going to keep getting better and better.”

Jamar Johnson and Kary Vincent Jr. are the only two Broncos on the COVID-19 list. Fangio isn’t certain when Johnson will return, but believes Vincent Jr. will be back on Monday.

Name to Know

No. 82 Eric Saubert — The former fifth-round pick out of Drake has been Denver’s most productive tight end the first two days of camp. After dominating Wednesday’s practice, the 6-foot-5, 253-pound tight end had multiple catches again on Thursday, including hauling in a touchdown from Lock.

It’s already time to get to know Saubert’s name as he’s a very capable blocker too.

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