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Training Camp Takeaways – Day 5: Tim Patrick's torn Achilles steals the headlines in the first fully-padded practice
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Tim Patrick is done for the season.
Patrick, 29, tore his Achilles during seven-on-sevens. He took the first two steps of a wheel route before his calf gave out, and he sat on the field until the play was over. Trainers took a peek at his left leg as the cart drove in from the sideline to take him to the locker room. Courtland Sutton and Russell Wilson helped him climb aboard.
A few hours later, news broke that the Broncos waived wide receiver KJ Hamler, 24, with a non-football illness designation. He’d just announced that he is battling a heart condition. NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo reported that Hamler is expected to miss “weeks, not months” and that the plan is for the Broncos to re-sign him once he can participate in practices if all goes well.
What was supposed to be an exciting day—the 2023 Broncos’ first fully-padded practice—turned out to be devastating. Any other news from the practice feels inconsequential.
But we’re here to talk ball, so we’re going to talk ball. That’s the last we’ll mention the two Broncos receivers who went down. If you’re looking for more details and reactions to the injury news, here you go.
The Broncos’ first practice in pads was also their shortest of training camp. Instead of running three team periods, they only held two. Here’s what went down…
- RT Mike McGlinchey returned to practice after missing the first three open practices because of a death in his family.
- CB Riley Moss and OLB Frank Clark missed practice because of a ”club decision,” according to head coach Sean Payton. He said it was not a rest day but didn’t give further details.
Russell Wilson struggled once again
The Broncos’ first offense vs. defense period of the day was seven-on-sevens, as it has been all camp. Russell Wilson hit Javonte Williams on a checkdown that would have gained a few yards after Williams got outside of Alex Singleton. On the next play, which was when Tim Patrick went down, Wilson tried to hit Jerry Jeudy on a drag but Caden Sterns flew in to break up a pass. Practice paused and Wilson sat out for the majority of the rest of seven-on-sevens.
Wilson’s second throw of team drills was the worst play of the day. He dropped back and was sacked by Jonathon Cooper—who solidified his standing as the star of camp so far—but since tackling is not allowed, the play continued. He flung a ball to Jeudy who had broken out toward the sideline, but led his receiver too far and Justin Simmons picked the pass off. It was a sack and an interception on the same play.
He hit a couple of other short passes, but his best throw of the day was to Jeudy on the sideline for a gain of about 12 yards. But, similar to the interception above, the throw wouldn’t have happened in a game because Singleton would have sacked him.
Wilson hardly threw more than a handful of passes, but the results were poor.
The 34-year-old quarterback has had a slow start to camp. He’s had rough days on the first and third days of camp, but held his own in the second. The defense is almost always ahead of the offense in the early-going of camp, but it would be nice to see Wilson get hot sometime this week.
Remember not to make assumptions based on a few practices.
The throw of the day came from Jarett Stidham, who hit Brandon Johnson for a deep touchdown up the sideline past Essang Bassey in seven-on-sevens.
Mike McGlinchey returns
The Broncos’ $87.5 million right tackle missed the firs three open practices of training camp because of a death in his family, but returned on Monday. His presence was felt immediately.
The first pass of team drills was the best pocket the Broncos’ offensive line has made so far in camp. It didn’t result in a completion, but Russell Wilson had plenty of time to sit back and then step up with zero pressure.
McGlinchey wasn’t perfect—he was responsible for the Jonathon Cooper sack noted above—but there was plenty to like. He was the easy star of the first one-on-one drills between offensive and defensive linemen of training camp, mauling everybody who lined up against him. (Quinn Meinerz also had a stellar showing in one-on-ones, and later blew open a hole in the running game during team drills.)
Damarri and Jerry go to battle
While the Alabama rivalry of Pat Surtain and Jerry Jeudy sparks the imagination, it’s been Damarri Mathis’ battles with Jeudy that have stolen the show so far in camp.
The battle continued on Monday, when Mathis mirrored Jeudy perfectly across the field and forced an incompletion in the first team period.
“He played good ball last year for us and he’s only going to get better,” Pat Surtain II said of Mathis after practice. “He’s showing improvement each and every day, each and every week. When you’ve got a guy like that opposite of you, it just brings more confidence out of me, too. He’s making plays as well, too.”
Later in practice, Jeudy got his revenge. The 24-year-old receiver ran a 10- or 15-yard out route, getting enough separation from Mathis to bring the ball in on the sideline. This is the same play from above, when Alex Singleton should have gotten a sack.
Ja’Quan McMillian does it again
Every day, 23-year-old cornerback Ja’Quan McMillian makes another big play. On Monday, it was another leaping pass breakup as time wound down in practice.
“J-Mac, he’s playing at a high level,” Pat Surtain II said after practice. “He’s making plays all over the field, but not only that, he’s very comfortable and very poised out there.”
Don’t be surprised if we see more of McMillian, who has become one of the big risers of the Broncos’ offseason.
“He’s playing a very big role for us,” Surtain said. “He’s playing a good amount of snaps for us and I can’t wait to see what he do this year.”
Yasir Durant stands out
The Broncos signed a 6-foot-7, 330-pound guard Monday morning, and he was on display during practice. Yasir Durant, 25, has 18 games of NFL experience, including two starts. He’ll have a chance to make the roster as the Broncos’ backup guard, where the Broncos still lack depth.
Durant’s size is for real, he looks like a men among boys even next to the rest of the Broncos’ offensive line. His play of the day was when he blew open a hole for Jaleel McLaughlin to burst through.
McLaughlin, an undrafted rookie and the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher, has hit a couple of big runs in the past two practices.
“He has a little burst, and there’s some toughness to him,” head coach Sean Payton said of the 5-foot-8 back. “He’s the first one here. I don’t know what time he gets here in the morning, but it’s pretty early. He’s a guy you root for. He’s shifty, and he has good change of direction.”
A few more Broncos made splashes on Monday…
- Rookie linebacker Drew Sanders stuffed a run on the first play of the team period.
- Garett Bolles had a great rep against Randy Gregory in one-on-ones.
- Receiver Jalen Virgil had a big gain on a jet sweep behind a Lil’Jordan Humphrey block.
- Tight end Tommy Hudson continued his strong camp with a couple of catches, while showing off some speed up the sideline.