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Training Camp Takeaways: Tuesday’s practice brings the heat in more ways than one

Zac Stevens Avatar
August 14, 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. — The Denver Broncos began their 2018 season with two three-and-outs on the offensive side of the ball and gave up an eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive on the defensive side on Saturday night during their first preseason game.

Even though it was just preseason, head coach Vance Joseph summed up the start fittingly with one word: Disappointing.

But on Tuesday, in their final practice before welcoming the Chicago Bears to town, one of those units came out of the gates on fire.


Defensive coordinator Joe Woods wasn’t messing around on Tuesday. In the first team period, the second-year coordinator threw the kitchen sink at Bill Musgrave’s offense. And it worked.

Using many different formations and blitz packages, Woods wreaked havoc and caused chaos to the Broncos’ offense with his relentless pressure.

In the first series against Case Keenum, the defense had two would-be sacks against the starting quarterback.

On the first, three defenders were all stacked together standing up on the right side of the line of scrimmage showing a heavy-pressure look. Once the ball was snapped, however, all three dropped into coverage.

With all of the offensive line’s attention to the right side of the line, Bradley Chubb burst through the left side for the sack on Keenum.

On the next play, more pre and post-snap confusion allowed Bradley Roby to come on a delayed blitz and have a free run at Keenum.

All of the pressure also forced Keenum to throw deep into double coverage earlier in the series. Fortunately for the offense, Keenum’s pass was overthrown and out of harm’s way.

The name of the game for Woods was deception and confusion.

This continued with the second unit, now led by Chad Kelly.

Safety Trey Marshall had an easy sack on Kelly due to a massive hole in the offensive line and then was pressured by Parks and forced to throw a check down as the line couldn’t hold the pressure back.

Once Woods took his foot off the gas after the first team period, the pressure subsided. But when it was on, there was virtually nothing the offense could do.


Speaking of heat, the newly appointed second-string quarterback’s passes were literally too fast for his own receivers to handle on Tuesday.

Working with the second-team unit for the second-straight day, Kelly’s receivers dropped at least three passes because they couldn’t hang on to Kelly’s rockets.

At times, this can be the fault of the quarterback as some passes need to have touch, but on Tuesday, every dropped pass was in a tight window and needed all the heat possible.

One of the passes went straight through Mark Chapman’s hands and still had the force to bounce off his chest for an incompletion.

While Kelly will need time to adjust to his new set of second-team receivers, they’ll also need time to adjust to his cannon.


Less than 24 hours after being promoted from third-string to second-string, Kelly was challenged by John Elway to hold onto that position.

Speaking to 103.5 The Fox on Tuesday, Elway said the team is “working through that process” when asked if the team will bring in a backup quarterback.

“Even though Chad played well, if something happened to Case, could he come in and win football games? That evaluation is still going on,” Elway bluntly stated.

On Tuesday, Kelly got his toughest task to date as he went up against the Broncos’ first-team defense for two series. The reality wasn’t pleasant for the second-string quarterback at first.

In his first four pass attempts, Kelly didn’t have a single positive play.

His first pass was broken up after he tried to dump the ball off short with Von directly in his face after a play action. The next was batted down by Derek Wolfe at the line, and the third was a Chubb sack, his second on the day.

His fifth pass, however, was a thing of beauty (read below).

Kelly ended the day with two straight completions, one to Hamilton and one to Sutton, and a 10-yard touchdown scamper where he took off immediately after dropping back when he saw a huge hole open on the line.


On Wednesday, the Broncos welcome in the Bears for two joint practices before the teams square off in the second preseason game on Saturday night.

Joseph and Bears’ head coach Matt Nagy have had several conversations about “structure and temperament” of practice both days.

“We want to have great work the next two days,” Joseph said Tuesday as he preps for Chicago. “Obviously, you watch the news, and a bunch of fighting is occurring in most [joint] practices. We don’t want that. We want to get good work on both sides of the ball, be good professionals and not fight. It’s as simple as that—not fight.”

Barring fights, Joseph said the team can accomplish a lot more in these two practices than in a regular training camp practice.

“You watch our defense now versus our offense, our defense had seen these plays for almost three weeks now, so it’s easy for them,” Joseph said, explaining the benefits of the joint practices. “So to see a different scheme, to play a different body type, that’s going to be huge for our team as far as schematics and evaluation. It’s going to be huge.”


  • J.J. Dielman suffered a knee sprain during Monday’s practice, but it’s “nothing serious,” according to Joseph.
  • Sam Jones left practice on Tuesday due to back spasms.
  • “Hopefully” Su’a Cravens will be back on the field in the next couple of days. According to the head coach, the swelling in his knee is down, and he was running on Tuesday.
  • Ron Leary and Austin Traylor returned to practice after missing Monday.
  • It’s also worth noting that Clinton McDonald was practicing.
  • Others that did not practice included Philly Brown, Dymonte Thomas, Michael Hunter, Troy Fumagalli and Joseph Jones.


  • Jeff Heuerman was the most productive receiving threat on the field Tuesday. Working on fresh legs after missing two weeks due to a sore knee, Heuerman was the fastest player on the field, according to Musgrave. The No. 1 tight end on the depth chart had by far his best day of camp, hauling in multiple passes from Keenum while being covered by linebackers and safeties.
  • Coming off a touchdown performance in the first preseason game, Royce Freeman ran with energy and power between the tackles on Tuesday. After practice, Joseph confirmed that, describing Freeman’s style as a “downhill ponder.” Joseph added Freeman is a “one-cut runner with pretty good vertical speed.”
  • DeMarcus Ware was at practice on Tuesday as the team’s pass-rush consultant. He was working on the side with players on an individual basis. He spent a significant amount of time with Derek Wolfe and other starters, but also worked with Marcus Rush and DeShawn Williams, to name a few.
  • The team claimed receiver DeAndrew White off waivers on Tuesday. White was waived by the Houston Texans on Monday. The 6-foot, 195-pound receiver has played in six career games and has three career receptions. He went undrafted in 2015 out of the University of Alabama.


Chad Kelly not only continued his memorable four-day stretch on Tuesday by earning the prestigious play of the day honors, he did it against the Broncos’ first-team defense.

With Sutton streaking down the right sideline in smothering coverage by Bradley Roby, Kelly decided to take his shot. With Roby draped all over Sutton, only a perfect ball would lead to a completion.

It was the perfect ball.

The ball fell right out of the sky over Sutton’s shoulder and into his hands. Sutton got both feet in bounds before falling to the ground 40 yards downfield.

All Roby could do was tip his cap to Kelly and Sutton.


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