ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos ended training camp with a bang on Thursday as they welcomed in the Dallas Cowboys for a joint practice.
Here’s how the Broncos’ offense fared against the Cowboys’ defense in the 14th and final practice of training camp.
Who won the day: Broncos’ offense over Cowboys’ defense
In the scorching heat Russell Wilson came out on fire against the Cowboys.
Wilson’s first pass play was one of the biggest of the day as he hit Courtland Sutton for 35 yards down the field. After practice, Hackett said Wilson is realizing that Sutton is open on more plays than it seems and Russ is “testing those water” more as the season approaches.
On the next play, Denver got the ground game going, led by the offensive line and Javonte Williams.
As the entire offensive line moved left, Williams instantly cutback to the right and took off toward the sideline for a big-time play. The second-year back displayed excellent vision on the play. After practice, Hackett said he focused more on the run game at points in practice to see how the offense would fare going up against a different front.
“It seemed like it was good,” he added. “It’s always critical to be able to run the ball. That’s the No. 1 thing to help yourself protect the quarterbacks, set up the shots down the field and all of the things we want to accomplish… I thought we did some really good combination blocks, and that’s what we’re trying to hunt as we put that all together and then get the backs up to the line of scrimmage or past it before they have to bounce someone off or make somebody move means that you’re going to be successful in the run game.”
After a short pass to Montrell Washington, Wilson got Eric Saubert going for a 20-yard completion.
Wilson started the first period perfect, with two big-time plays in the air.
But then the air game began to slow down with back-to-back incompletions as Wilson tried to find Jeudy deep, but overthrew him, and then missed Brandon Johnson in tight coverage in the middle.
Williams then delivered the run of the day as he followed his dominant offensive line up the middle and plowed through the Cowboys’ defense for what would have been a best-mode-esque run, something Dallas’ defense is all to familiar with after last year’s game.
Following a flag, Wilson went short to Johnson. While the pass was high and a bit behind, the ball went right through his hands, floated into the air and landed into a defenders lap for the easy interception. That was Wilson’s only pick on the day.
Two more dominant runs, one by Mike Boone on the outside and the other by Javonte up the middle, continued to display Denver’s powerful run game.
Then came the red zone period, where Wilson caught fire.
The first play, however, was an incompletion on a corner fade in the back left of the end zone to Jerry Jeudy, where tight coverage broke up the play. On the next play, Wilson bounced back with a laser to Kendall Hinton coming across the middle for a touchdown.
Wilson then gave Jeudy another chance to score. And he capitalized. Off a play-action boot, Wilson easily connected with Jeudy in the flat who turned up field and sped into the end zone for six.
Wilson was “just playing ball,” Hackett said with a smile after the joint practice wrapped up.
With Russ hot, Hackett let him continue cooking. Once again, Wilson looked Hinton’s way on a corner fade. With a two-yard separation, Hinton pulled the pass in with his finger tips and got both feet down for the score as the crowd went wild. The period ended with an incomplete pass on the sideline as Russ couldn’t connect with Jeudy.
Denver’s offense couldn’t find the end zone in their final two-minute period.
Starting in their own territory with less than two minutes left, Wilson connected with Jeudy on back-to-back plays for short gains. Wilson then looked deep to Sutton, but the ball was just too far out of bounds for the 6-foot-4 receiver to get his feet in.
Following a short pass to Andrew Beck, Micah Parson’s made his presence felt in a major way as he had back-to-back sacks on the right side of the offensive line.
Hackett settled for a long field goal, which Brandon McManus nailed.
“Start off hot. Had a bunch of good plays early,” Hackett said, evaluating his offense’s performance. “I wish the two-minute would have been better. The red zone seemed like it went well. It seemed like the guys had a couple of ‘tugs,’ that was really great. But overall, when you come out without any injury and you get to go against someone else and get good work, you always feel great about it.”
Despite a rollercoaster practice with highs and lows, Denver’s red zone success gave them the victory over the Cowboys on the day.
Play of the day
The only red-zone pass not mentioned above was the highlight of the day.
With Albert Okwuegbunam tearing across the end zone from left to right, Wilson recognized he was open and threw him the ball. The pass, however, was just a bit in front of the speedy tight end.
But Albert O was able to use his juggling skills to bring the pass in. He first tipped the ball back to himself, but the initial tip went too far behind him. He then flipped his body around to touch the ball back to himself. As he fell down, to complete a full 360, he brought the ball in for the dazzling score. Touchdown.
Kendall Hinton — No receiver has capitalized on Tim Patrick’s absence better than Hinton. On Thursday, he was Wilson’s favorite red zone target, bringing in two touchdowns.
The offensive line — The run game was dominant, thanks in large part to the push of Denver’s offensive line. Outside of giving up back-to-back sacks, they gave Wilson the time he needed in the pocket too.
Javonte Williams — The other piece to that run-game equation is the running backs themselves. With Melvin Gordon out, Williams was incredibly impressive on Thursday, displaying his vision and power.
Calvin Anderson — Unfortunately, Anderson had to spend much of the day going up against Micah Parsons, who Hackett called a “beast.” On back-to-back plays in the move the ball period, Anderson allowed Parsons to get to Wilson, which would have likely resulted in two sacks.
- Melvin Gordon has a foot contusion and did not practice for a second-straight day.
- Greg Dulcich had a “little bit” of a setback, according to Hackett.
- K.J. Hamler did not have a setback, despite not practicing this week. The team is just being smart with bringing him back. “He’s farther along that we ever though,” Hackett said.
- Courtland Sutton, D.J. Jones and Eyima Uwazurike returned to practice.
- Ronald Darby has a chest contusion and is listed as day-to-day.
- K.J. Hamler, K’Waun Williams and Greg Dulcich did not practice.
- Randy Gregory, Billy Turner and Tom Compton on the PUP.
- Both Tim Patrick and Damarea Crockett have been placed on the injured reserve after tearing their ACLs.
- Tyrie Cleveland missed practice after suffering a cartilage injury in his throat in the second week of camp.