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Full-Tackle Period Amps Up Intensity

Posted Jul 28, 2014

Monday's "live" short-yardage drills had players on both sides fired up, leading to some big hits and heated competition.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The next layer of the offseason wrapping has been peeled off: Monday's short-yardage drill marked the first time the Broncos have gone "live" in training camp, meaning players played full speed and put the ball-carrier on the ground.

"That’s a pride thing," Derek Wolfe said. "It’s me versus you and there’s only a couple inches between us, so we’ve got to get it done.”

The defense did get it done more often than not in the nine plays, with Wolfe and the first team unit preventing conversions on two out of three chances.

"We wanted to go out there and show the offense we don’t give up anything, especially a yard or half a yard," Malik Jackson said. "The D-line was shedding blocks, getting off blocks and ‘backers were filling and safeties were coming down, so I think we looked real good.”

Montee Ball came up just short on the first play of the drill, but noted that the offensive line "did a great job," adding, "I have to find a way to get another half a yard." He was stuffed two yards behind the line by Danny Trevathan and Sylvester Williams on the second play, but managed to ride the line's surge up the middle for a conversion on the first-team's final chance.

Even on the conversion, it was tough sledding to face a defense that was jacked up with energy and swarming to the football.

"I was talking to the defensive coordinator (Jack Del Rio) in the weight room, and I told them the defense is doing a great job flying around and making tackles," Ball said. "That’s only going to make the offense better.”

After the donning of pads and the presence of the fans added extra motivation on Saturday and Sunday respectively, the full-tackle period proved to be the next logical step for bringing out players' best efforts.

"We haven’t had an opportunity to tackle full-go since we started training camp," Mitch Unrein said. "So it’s fun to get out here and fire off the ball and you know you can tackle the running back now. You have that little more spark."

"Even though it’s the fifth day and your legs are kind of dragging a little bit, you get some more energy and you fire off the ball and you try to make that play.”

Even those who didn't get a piece of the action felt the adrenaline levels rise. For Kevin Vickerson, who is still limited to individual drills, it was difficult to watch the intense period without being in the middle of it.

"That’s my time," he said. "Third down and long, I might be off the field, but 3rd-and-2, 4th-and-1, those short yardage plays – you ain’t getting none of that on me."

We don't know when Vickerson will return to those situations, but the team will revisit the "live" drills in front of a roaring crowd at Saturday's "Summer Scrimmage," which could perhaps drive the level of energy even higher. As John Fox said, it's all part of getting the players ready for playing in the preseason, which is now just 10 days away.