Miles Traveled to date: 9,534
We made our way up to Denver from New Orleans getting in late on Friday night. First impressions of the city suggested it was a little disappointing to only be staying for one day.
The practice facility is about 10 miles directly south of Downtown Denver and the early morning conditions were already excellent and a massive upgrade on the storms and humidity we found in New Orleans yesterday.
However, weather wasn’t really on the agenda but the first padded practice of certain quarterback and his team was.
1) Manning Will Find A Way
I think the best way to describe the mood here is one of quiet but deep-rooted optimism. It’s not about what Peyton Manning has done physically since he arrived (although he’s been OK in that regard) but it’s the confidence he instills in the entire organization that with him in charge, ten wins is a given. They’re all downplaying it but everyone from his fellow players through to the off-field staff have a permanent smile that lets you know they believe Christmas has come early this year.
On the field today he started everything off as if he was trying to bore the large and vociferous crowd of Bronco faithful with a barrage of runs, dump-offs and short slants. Either that or he was helping them understand, that in Tim Tebow’s area of greatest weakness, he was the master; reading the action close to the line of scrimmage and then executing perfectly. He did go deep on a few occasions but these were exceptions. His throws were accurate but he displayed none of the arm strength or zip seen in the last two days from both Rivers and Brees.
The message from Peyton seemed clear; we will do what it takes to move the chains because this is our staple. I am not 100% physically nor do I believe we have the tools just now to be an offense built for all out attack but when opportunities arise, we will take them. I will do whatever it takes to win and I will find a way.
2) Woodyard Gets His Chance
Over the last couple of years OLB, Wesley Woodyard has had opportunities to start; 10 of the last 34 games (including playoffs). Outside those games he gets a lot of snaps in sub-packages and has flashed talent but has never done enough to force his way into a full-time role. With D.J. Williams suspended for six games he will get another shot to prove his worth.
Williams was in pads but may as well not have been as the coaches tried to give Woodyard as many reps as possible. It was almost comical at times to see Williams try to get in on a play and then get yanked out; often quickly and sometimes before he’d even made the huddle. Another point underlined: we aren’t wasting snaps on you if you can’t help us immediately.
3) Filling the Slot
When I turn up, one of the first things I like to do is find the best of the beat writers and ask them for the local gossip. One of the items mentioned here that stood out was that the Broncos were looking at replacing Chris Harris in the slot with Drayton Florence. Given how well Harris did when effectively dumped into the job last year that seemed strange so I decided to investigate.
The official line is that all the secondary positions, with the exception of Champ Bailey’s role at LCB are up for grabs but both the feelings expressed by those close to the situation (In fact in a team pep talk at a recent OTA John Lynch singled out Harris as having “done a heck of a job”) and logic suggest Harris should be fine barring a real slump.
Florence has only played in the slot for three games in the last three years (Weeks 1 to 3 of the 2010 season for Buffalo) and while he will do anything to make the team, I believe, sees his real opportunity is in trying to unseat Tracy Porter at RCB.
● At safety my money is on Mike Adams and Rahim Moore starting. Moore was benched last year but the word from inside the organization is that he’s come back a changed man in terms of work ethic.
● DT, Mitch Unrein is getting more and more significant snaps and looks to be forcing his way well up into the rotation.
● HB, Knowshon Moreno is apparently “full speed” but if he is, considering the size of the brace on his leg, I’d be very surprised.
July 29 – Seahawks (Renton)
July 30 – 49ers (Santa Clara)
July 31 – Raiders (Napa)
August 1 – Dolphins (Davie)
August 2 – ?????
If you’ve got questions for Neil to take along to any of his upcoming camp visits, follow him on Twitter (@PFF_Neil) and let him know.