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Training Camp Takeaways — Day 12: Russell Wilson doesn't miss and Courtland Sutton breaks out

Henry Chisholm Avatar
August 9, 2023

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The next time we see the Broncos, they’ll be taking the field in Arizona for a real football game. (Well, at least as real as August football can be.)

The Broncos held their final practice on Wednesday before they take on the Cardinals in a preseason bout at 8 p.m. MDT on Friday. Starters are expected to play 15-18 snaps before the reserves come in to do the bulk of the work. Arizona will play its starters on a “case-by-case basis,” according to head coach Jonathan Gannon. The game will be broadcast in Denver by 9News, and out-of-market viewers can tune in with a subscription or free trial for NFL+. DNVR will be live from The DNVR Bar on YouTube with a pregame show at 6 p.m. and a postgame show when the game concludes.

“My experience with that field is that it has always been a fast and firm track,” Payton said. “It may not always be green because they are getting so much work on it, but it’s always been a good, firm surface that you can run on.”

The Broncos also released their first depth chart of the season on Wednesday, which you can see here.

One final interesting note: Two-time NFL sack leader Jared Allen, 41, was in attendance for the second day in a row.

“He’s one of the guest coaches,” Payton said. “He’s in for a few days throughout the season, helping us with pass rush. I told him he’s putting his toe in the water with coaching right now. He hasn’t jumped in the cold pool yet.”

Allen spent 10 minutes working one-on-one with Zach Allen after practice.

For the final time before the first game, here’s what happened at practice today…


Participation report

  • TE Chris Manhertz sat out practice for the second consecutive day.
  • RT Mike McGlinchey has a knee sprain that will keep him out for 2-3 weeks.
  • DL DJ Jones returned to practice after working on the side field for several days.
  • S Justin Simmons continued to sit out of practice.
  • OLB Aaron Patrick, CB Art Green and CB K’Waun Williams worked on the side field.

Russell Wilson stays hot

Russell Wilson just stacked his fourth consecutive strong practice.

He opened team drills by finding Tommy Hudson up the sideline behind Jonathon Cooper. A couple of plays later, he hit Samaje Perine in space in the flat for what would have been a chunk play.

In his second round of team drills, Wilson hit a long ball up the sideline to Courtland Sutton for a gain of at least 25 yards. (More on that later.) Then he found Jerry Jeudy open for an easy throw and potential big gain after Damarri Mathis and Kareem Jackson miscommunicated. Jeudy finished the play with a juke on Mathis that sent the cornerback to the ground. Wilson found Sutton again on a contested hitch in front of Mathis for another seven yards.

The bigger news, though, is that Wilson converted his third consecutive move-the-ball period.

Wilson’s offense got the ball near the defense’s 20-yard line. He hit Sutton on the sideline for a seven-yard gain in front of Pat Surtain. Samaje Perine moved the chains with a run up the middle on the next play. A toss to Javonte Williams left the offense about seven yards from the end zone.

Sutton broke toward the middle of the field in the end zone and Wilson hit him in the chest for a touchdown.

The Russ buzz is for real right now. The ball didn’t hit the ground during team drills.


Courtland Sutton steps up

Courtland Sutton has been a reliable target for Russell Wilson during training camp, but he had his best practice on Wednesday.

His big play of the day was the deep ball down the sideline. Pat Surtain ran stride-for-stride with him up the boundary, but at the last second, Sutton knocked Surtain’s hands off of him and separated with his final two steps before reeling the ball in for a big gain. Remember, nobody beats Pat Surtain.

Sutton followed that up with the touchdown grab later in practice, but it’s his consistency from play to play that has earned him high marks during camp. He’s been at his best running quick hitches and slants, while using his massive body to shield the ball from blockers. The hitch he caught against Mathis for a seven-yard gain won’t look like anything special in the box score, but it was a great grab. Mathis was on his back, but Sutton fully extended his arms in front of him to catch the ball and held on while Mathis swiped at them.

In a Sean Payton offense defined by quick passes, Sutton might be a perfect fit. Payton explained why he thinks Sutton is playing so well.

“I think he’s strong. I think he’s healthy,” Payton said. “In fairness to him, I think he’s healthy. He’s moving well. His body weight was just what we wanted when he reported to camp. I like how he’s been working. Today was really good. It was really good.”

Sutton said he changed his workout routine this offseason because he was disappointed in how he played, and he feels the change paying off. He packed on some muscle and then cut his weight back down to about 10 pounds less than where it was last year. Now he feels faster and stronger.

“I wanted to see something different,” Sutton said. “I couldn’t continue to do the same thing and hope that something would change.”


One-on-ones

  • Isaiah Prince won all of his one-on-one reps.
  • Quinn Meinerz stopped DJ Jones. Jonathan Harris beat him with a quick shed to the inside.
  • Ben Powers stuffed Zach Allen and Matt Henningsen. Henningsen beat Kyle Fuller later in the drill, and stuffed a run during team drills.
  • Garett Bolles and Alex Palczewski both stuffed Nik Bonitto. Palczewski beat Chris Allen, too. Later on, Allen got the edge on Palczewski but couldn’t keep his footing. Palczewski made a great block in space to open up a running lane for Tyler Badie on a toss.
  • Jordan Jackson threw Quinn Bailey to the side.
  • PJ Mustipher had an easy win against Will Sherman.
  • Nik Bonitto burned Demontrey Jacobs around the edge. During team drills, Bonitto beat Albert Okwuegbunam around the edge for a sack.

Other notes

  • Greg Dulcich tapped his toes on the sideline for a great scramble drill catch.
  • The right side of the line—which featured Isaiah Prince in Mike McGlinchey’s place—blew open a big hole for Javonte Williams to open team drills. A couple of plays later, Prince pancaked Randy Gregory. The backup tackle has had a great camp, but has been far from flawless. Jonathon Cooper beat him for a sack later in team drills.
  • Jaleel McLaughlin probably had the longest run of the day again. He cut back behind Demontrey Jacobs and Henry Byrd to find a big hole. McLaughlin is one of the player’s to keep an eye on in the first preseason game.
  • Drew Sanders picked up Kendall Hinton on a drag and covered him to the flat, forcing an incompletion.
  • Montrell Washington almost pulled in a one-handed grab in the end zone but couldn’t quite make the play. PJ Locke was in good coverage.
  • Austin Ajiake sniffed out a screen and bottled it up.
  • Tremon Smith made a strong play to break up a pass to Marquez Callaway on a hitch.
  • Nick Williams made a great catch on the sideline for a moderate gain during a move-the-ball drill.

(Check out yesterday’s notes here.)

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