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Training Camp Takeaways: Case Keenum is human... kind of

Zac Stevens Avatar
August 3, 2018

Editor’s note: Welcome into one of many, many BSN Denver observation pieces to come this offseason. A fan favorite in the past, these stories will be posted after each and every training camp practice. 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. — Case Keenum entered the day perfect.

Through five practices, 300 minutes of real football and nearly an entire week of training camp on the field, the Denver Broncos’ prized offseason possession had thrown a total of zero interceptions in training camp.

Nada.

Not a single one.

Zilch.

On Friday, Keenum picked up where he left off, not showing any signs he would give the defense the ball for the first time.

Then that all changed at the end of practice.

HAUNTING FLASHBACK

Trailing 15-13 with 1:47 left in the first half, Keenum scanned the field from his own 35-yard line.

Looking left, he saw what he thought to be an open receiver in the flat, pulled the trigger and watched as Will Parks came flying across the receiver’s face, plucking the ball out of the air in full stride on his way to the end zone. Pick six.

“He’s human,” Joseph said when asked about Keenum’s first interception in six practices. “It was a two-minute drill; it was really before half, it wasn’t to win the game.”

The fact Keenum threw an interception isn’t bad — heck, Patrick Mahomes threw three in a 15-minute window on Wednesday — but this specific interception was bad, according to his coach.

Last year, in Week 6 against the New York Giants, down 10-3 with 48 seconds left from their own 38 yard-line, Trevor Siemain made nearly the exact same play, resulting in a Janoris Jenkins 43-yard pick six just before halftime.

“That hit my head right away, the Giants game last year,” head coach Vance Joseph said after Friday’s practice. “It was the exact play, the exact same side of the field. It was the left throw, the left corner picked it and took it home.”

The difference, of course, between the two was that one was on Sunday Night Football in front of the entire country and the other was during training camp.

“My thoughts to Case were, ‘Just be smart. We want points, but having points there is not urgent because it’s halftime,’” Joseph said. “Just knowing situational football. Having points there is not important. We want points, but it’s not urgent. So be smart with the football.”

The defense took a different approach to the quarterback’s mistake — hooting and hollering on the field and the sideline, even turning to media members telling them: “You better be tweeting that right now!”

LONE MISTAKE

Yes, Keenum made a mistake in practice. Yes, it was a bad mistake. But don’t let that completely drown out the rest of his day.

“I think, offensively, we came out firing,” Joseph said. “Defensively, it was a little slow early on. The defense came back and made some plays, so I was pleased with that. But offensively, we came out firing.”

And firing they did, specifically Case.

During the first team period of the day, Keenum couldn’t miss. On top of hitting Emmanuel Sanders on the sideline with Chris Harris Jr. in tight coverage, Keenum hit Jake Butt in stride for a 30-yard gain off a play action as well as a 30-yard touchdown to Sanders over Bradley Roby on a bootleg.

The field under the offense’s feet was beginning to get steamy.

It wasn’t until a dropped routine screen pass by Devontae Booker that Case had his first incompletion on the day. In the next 7-on-7 period, Keenum was money as well.

“He’s making plays on us. We can’t take nothing away from him,” Darian Stewart said after practice, talking about his quarterback.

WARE CONSULTING, LLC

For the first time at camp, there was a DeMarcus Ware sighting. Instead of teaching a group of players during individual periods — as he did during OTAs — Ware’s role on Friday was specified.

During a non-team portion of practice, Ware was working exclusively with Von Miller on the side. Much of the same occurred with the likes of Bradley Chubb, Derek Wolfe, Shane Ray, Shaq Barrett and Jeff Holland on the sideline during team periods.

Donning electric sunglasses, Ware primarily focused on hand techniques with each pass rusher, but he also taught Ray a few new pass rush moves.

Chubb potentially put his new hand techniques and moves that he learned from Ware on display as he beat right tackle Cyrus Kouanjio to get to Paxton Lynch during a team period.

As a “pass-rush consultant,” and not a full-time employee, Ware will be in Denver for two days this week before “coming back for the first game,” according to Joseph.

Joseph made one thing very clear: Ware is not, and won’t be, working with other teams during his time off.

THE FULLBACK IS NOT DEAD

Don’t count Andy Janovich out, at least that’s what Friday’s practice made very clear.

At the start of practice, as the running backs ran through their drills, a lone fullback was doing fullback drills, No. 32. The drills were simple, running into a single-man sled, but the statement was slightly louder.

Throughout the first five days of camp, Austin Traylor and other tight ends had been lining up at the fullback position occasionally, potentially opening a door for the Broncos to create a roster spot by not keeping a fullback on the roster. Not so fast.

What was even more telling on Friday was the amount Bill Musgrave used Janovich, especially early on. Running behind Janovich, the Broncos found success on the ground, especially on a cutback play where Janovich reach the second-level and cutoff Todd Davis to create a sea of green.

Keenum even found success through the air with Janovich on the field, completing multiple passes on play-action bootlegs.

INJURY AND AVAILABILITY NOTES

  • Josey Jewell made his training camp debut today after being sidelined with a hamstring injury. He was eased back in, but took reps during 7-on-7.
  • Su’a Cravens (knee), Jeff Heuerman (knee) and Tramaine Brock (hamstring) all missed practice with lingering injuries.
  • Philly Brown (concussion) did not practice, but was on the field doing conditioning work — a sign he’s taking positive steps in the concussion protocol.

ADDITIONAL TIDBITS

  • Minutes before practice, the Broncos signed undrafted receiver Bryce Bobo from the University of Colorado. In a corresponding move, they waived receiver Kenny Bell, who was hampered by a hamstring injury for the entirety of camp. Bobo was on the field Friday for his first practice with the Broncos donning No. 13.
  • Coming off one of, if not the best, practices of his career, Paxton Lynch wasn’t able to string two together. His day started with a pass in the dirt. However, he did have a few nice completions, including a few on the run off of play action.
  • In multiple different periods on Friday, including the first team period, Royce Freeman lined up next to and behind Case Keenum. Freeman’s best run of the day came on a cutback to the right side.
  • The first defensive package of the day included Chubb lining up at defensive end opposite Derek Wolfe with Shane Ray at inside backer alongside Davis.
  • Butt continues to build chemistry with Keenum. The first pass of the day was a 30-yard strike on the left numbers between the two.

PLAY OF THE DAY — The Sutton Show

Every day, literally, there could be an entire subsection of this piece just for John Elway’s rookie phenom, Courtland Sutton. But since he also owns this subsection, play of the day, it was fitting to put all of the talk surrounding No. 14 here, specifically his highlight-reel catch of the day.

Lined up one-on-one outside with Brendan Langley in coverage, there was no question where Keenum was going with the ball. Langley, however, made a determination as well that he was going to do whatever it took to prevent Sutton from making a catch on him.

As Keenum dropped back 45 yards away from the end zone, Sutton went deep, streaking down the sideline. With Keenum’s pass headed that way, Langley grabbed onto Sutton, showing he would rather take him down instead of letting him catch another pass on him.

On his way down, with Langley draped all over him, Sutton somehow hauled in the pass with one hand and secured it in the end zone. Yellow laundry was all over the field for the defensive pass interference, but it didn’t matter. Touchdown.

“It’s like he’s going up for a rebound. That’s big for us. He can do it instead of me,” Demaryius Thomas joked about Sutton’s ability to grab balls out of the air.

After practice, Joseph said the rookie is more of a ‘60-40 guy’ when it comes to 50-50 jump balls, but the reality is Sutton has a drastically higher — if not perfect — jump-ball win percentage than that through the first six days of camp.

But along with big plays, Sutton was also consistent on Friday, catching passes on Harris Jr. and even hauling a ball in that was tipped at the line — an incredibly hard feat.

“Big guy can run,” Thomas added, continuing to sing the praise of the rookie. “But when I first saw him on the field, I had no idea he could run routes like he does. Big fella, he can run routes, he can catch the ball at the highest point. I think he does well staying loyal when he runs his routes, and that’s big. That’s big to be a big guy and can do the things he can do.”

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