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On Monday, Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak did something unexpected. Kubiak sat his veterans during the OTA practice at Dove Valley on the same day players were to be made available to the media.
It was a bit backwards, really, as the veteran starters are the ones who are usually talking to the media, carrying the team messages. But, no. No practice, no media afterwards.
It was a wise decision for multiple reasons.
Physically, the rest benefits the Broncos, especially players in their 30s like Peyton Manning, DeMarcus Ware and other “old” guys. Mere days ago Denver lost starting Pro Bowl left tackle Ryan Clady for the season due to injury as well as third-round pick Jeff Heuerman a few weeks before. By sitting starters, Kubiak is hedging his bets well, staying on the precautionary side of things.
“We’ll continue this process,” Kubiak explained of resting veterans. “I want to practice at least one day with those other guys sitting because I just think it’s important. You’ll probably see some of that in training camp, too. I think the NFL season is a long grind. How you go about keeping guys healthy is a tough deal and a tough assignment. Also how you go about getting young guys involved with your team—the only way I know how to do that is give them practice time.”
Here, Kubiak’s wisdom shines through. Resting the older players to leave lots in the tank for the grueling grind of the season, and also getting the younger players involved, both on the field and with the media.
Brock Osweiler, Shane Ray and Ty Sambrailo met the media instead of say, Manning, Von Miller and Louis Vasquez. Kubiak’s rattling his young guys, throwing them in the fire to see how they react, to test their character and mental fortitude.
“You kind of find out what they can handle,” the head coach explained. “In this business you never know until they get thrown into fire. It’s kind of practice of throwing them into the fire so-to-speak.”
He was impressed with Sambrailo’s mental toughness, is taking the opportunity to discover his new team – especially the youngsters – and believes the experience in practice now will set them up for success during the season.
“I’ve always believed in doing it. I’m probably doing it more in the past after I was in Baltimore last year and we did it quite a bit,” said the 20-year veteran of NFL coaching. “We had some young guys step up and play really well for us, especially up front last year. I find myself in kind of the same situation up front. We’ve got to get those guys going.”
Kubiak’s wisdom is much-needed to lead this team to where the Broncos want to be, the Super Bowl. And once they get there, the thinking follows that Kubiak won’t make mental blunders like practicing in a quiet facility instead of pumping in noise or moving the team the week of the game to a new hotel.
Gary Kubiak gets the big picture, he’s intelligent, he’s the right man to lead Denver right now.