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Kubiak is urging Broncos’ youth to take advantage of early opportunities

Sam Cowhick Avatar
May 24, 2016


The Denver Broncos have a lot of talent, highlight reel, high profile talent on the roster but that is not important in May. As the roster turnover from 2015 is nearly over and the 2016 Broncos hit the field Tuesday for the first day of organized team activities, it is the youth of the team, rookie, second and third-year players that need to step up.

The youth certainly played well in the first practice and have no shortage of confidence. That is something head coach Gary Kubiak likes to see but it will be the consistency of their play even in May practices, that will earn them real playing time in the fall.

“They have confidence in what they are doing,” Kubiak said Tuesday of the younger players on the roster. “We got some young guys that can help our team and help us quick but like I just told them after practice, they have to prove to the team they can help them.”

Several players, in particular, will have immediate opportunities to show off their skills due to injuries or thin depth at their given positions. The obvious source of much of the attention Tuesday went to first-round pick, quarterback Paxton Lynch. He threw well throughout the practice and had one lengthy touchdown pass to second-year receiver Jordan Taylor. After the practice, he noted how fun it was to get on the field with the whole team for the first time.

“There are a lot of firsts to be made but coming out here every day, I’m excited to be a part of this team and work with these guys,” he said through a wide smile.

First-team starting quarterback Mark Sanchez did participate in practice on a limited basis and Trevor Siemian also took a lot of repetitions. Despite the attention Lynch and Sanchez are getting, Kubiak has been impressed with Siemian and is looking for all three players to push for playing time, all the time.

“Not many guys are asking about him but I’m really excited about Trevor [Siemian],” Kubiak said following the practice. “He has a good chance to be a really good player. He knows exactly what he is doing, he basically took the first group today.”

The Broncos have weeks before the season official starts and months before the first game but already, Kubiak and his staff are trying to cultivate a balanced approach of competition as well as player safety. Through each practice, Kubiak laid out what they are trying to preach from here on out.

“We talk about two things. We talk about health number one,” he detailed Tuesday afternoon. “You love to come out of your offseason workouts into the summer healthy. That’s extremely important. So we talk about protecting each other but at the same time, we have got to compete and get better and find out who is going to be able to help us. It is a fine line there, it is just something we hammer on each day and hopefully, we get both of them accomplished.”

Last season rookie tight end Jeff Heuerman and second-year player Kapri Bibbs did not contribute much to the team’s success due to a rookie minicamp injury and missed opportunities in training camp. Kubiak picked out Bibbs in particular when asked about the running back group.

“It was obvious today Kapri [Bibbs] is a different player than I had last year and we told him he had to be,” he said.

Coaches talk often of young players either making big strides in their second and third seasons or filtering out of the NFL entirely. For players like Bibbs the importance to show progression as early as OTAs is vital.

“I really try to grab guys like that and say, ‘You know what? They aren’t going to let you hang out and be on the practice squad being a fourth-year guy. They don’t let you do that. It is time to make a jump,” Kubiak stated plainly.

The excitement of the Broncos hitting the playing field is certainly palpable at UCHealth Training Center but for the veteran players, it is tempered by the realization that they need to pace themselves. The youth of the team often does not have that luxury. Each player that even makes to an NFL team’s OTAs has accomplished a great feat but as Kubiak detailed Tuesday, that is not nearly enough. “I love confidence but you have to back up confidence with work.”

That work began Tuesday and the play, like the weather, will only heat up as the true season’s work approaches.



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