ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The first day of full pads did not go as Nathaniel Hackett had planned.
But it had nothing to do with the pads being on.
Here’s what happened during the Denver Broncos’ sixth training camp practice.
Who won the day: Defense
During the fourth team period of practice, Russell Wilson connected with Tim Patrick on one of the deepest completion of camp so far.
Wilson tossed up a jump ball down the right sideline, the 6-foot-4 receiver adjusted his body to the ball with Essang Bassey in coverage, caught the pass and came down with it. All was fine. Then Patrick tried to put a move on Bassey to keep the play going. But when he planted his leg, his leg gave out and he immediately went down.
When Patrick hit the ground, he instantly grabbed his knee.
Courtland Sutton and the rest of the receivers sprinted over to their “brother,” as Sutton called him after practice. Within a matter of seconds, practice was stopped and the entire team surrounded No. 81.
“My initial reaction was flip the drill, get it going and then I threw my thing away and was like, ‘I’m going over there,'” Hackett said about practice stopping once Patrick went down. “I think it’s awesome [how the players went to Patrick]. You want to see that support. Tim’s a guy that is very well respected across this team and this league and we’re going to hope the best.”
Practice stopped for the longest time Kareem Jackson has ever seen for a player getting injured, pointing to how loved Patrick is in the locker room.
A cart was quickly brought out to bring him off the field. He wasn’t able to put any pressure on his knee when he made the short walk from the cart to the locker room.
K.J. Hamler followed Patrick into the locker room to pray with him.
But practice must go on.
Two short completions to Javonte Williams and Eric Saubert had Wilson beginning to find a groove. But when Wilson looked deep again, he was just off with Jerry Jeudy. The deep ball in the middle of the field grazed off Jeudy’s finger tip roughly 40 yards down field with Justin Simmons and Ronald Darby in good, but not perfect, coverage.
Then came the all-important move-the-ball period.
With 1:25 left on the clock and the offense starting on their own 25-yard line, Wilson hit Gordon and Sutton on back-to-back plays to pick up a first down and stop the clock. Faced with a 3rd-and-4, not even at midfield, Wilson was sacked instantaneously when Ejiro Evero brought pressure off the left side which allowed Baron Browning and McTelvin Agim to get home.
The first-team offense got one more shot in the same situation.
The result was even more disappointing.
Wilson hit Jeudy on a quick out for a gain of four, then found Williams on a dump off for one more yard. Facing a 3rd-and-5, Wilson threw an incompletion, ending the drive.
“We didn’t get, obviously, a score in those. We need to do better,” Hackett said after practice. “We need to take a look at what they’re doing and get some easy completions in those situations at the end of the half, kind of try and move the chains and get an easy first first down. I think they did on the first one. But for us, it’s about that operation. We want to make sure the operation is fluid. It’s always different in a game, but you always want to get the guys pushing, going fast.”
The same, however, can not be said about the backup offense.
Facing the same situation, Brett Rypien drove the offense into the red zone after completing a bomb to Kaden Davis (read below).
With one second left on the clock, and the ball on the two-yard line, Hackett decided to give the offense a chance for a touchdown instead of settling for a field goal.
Rypien hit Montrell Washington on the left sideline of the end zone. The rookie brought it in. Touchdown.
As the offensive players sprinted to celebrate with No. 12, Washington did a backflip, which he stuck the landing.
But those weren’t the only plays Washington made as a receiver on Tuesday. Again with the backup offense, the speedster torched the defense on his way to an easy 50-yard touchdown pass down the left sideline earlier in practice. At the end of practice, he caught another bomb, this time form Josh Johnson for a massive gain.
“Twelve made a couple good plays. Jerry did some things,” Hackett said, pointing to Washington and Jeudy as two players that stepped up when Patrick went down. “All those guys are going to have to rally together. That’s part of this game. And [injuries are] the worst part of this game is when things like that happen. But it has to bring your team together. You have to show support and love for their family because they are part of our family. You got to find a way to fill that void.”
For a player that was brought in initially brought in to be a returner, Washington has turned heads through the first week of training camp.
“He’s worked so hard. I don’t think anybody really knew where he was going to put himself within the wide receiver rotation,” Hackett said about the rookie. “He’s a guy that for sure Russell’s latched on to and really tried to push with the rookies being around here and just trying to grow because it is just so different coming from where he’s been. I mean, he’s grasping a lot. He’s made a bunch of good plays around here. He had a great play at the very end there. We’re excited. He’s going to have to step up.”
On Tuesday, after a potentially devastating injury to Patrick, Washington stepped up in a big way.
Play of the day
Speaking of rookie receivers impressing, No. 13 Kaden Davis delivered the play of the day. During the move-the-ball period near the end of practice, Rypien launched a bomb to Davis down the right sideline. The Northwest Missouri State product was able to catch the ball on the sideline and get his feet in before falling out of bounds.
That put the offense near the five-yard line and stopped the clock.
It was Washington and Davis, both rookie receivers, who helped Rypien lead the clutch touchdown drive.
Melvin Gordon — For the first time in camp, No. 25 took the first snap with the first-team offense. It was a sign that the starting running back job is not Javonte Williams just yet.
Baron Browning — After a two-sack performance with the backups on Monday, No. 56 got significant run with the starters on Tuesday. Not only did he get to play with the first-team defense, but he had a sack on Wilson.
Damarri Mathis — The rookie cornerback is off to an incredibly hot start to the week. He had another smothering pass breakup on Tuesday.
- Tim Patrick is being evaluated for a knee injury.
- Damarea Crockett is also being evaluated for a knee injury after he went down early in practice.
- D.J. Jones was held out of Tuesday’s practice as Hackett said the team was “taking care of his back.” The head coach added it’s nothing serious.
- Tyrie Cleveland doesn’t have a timetable to return after being hit in the throat during Monday’s practice.
- Randy Gregory, Billy Turner and Tom Compton on the PUP.