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Practice squad focus on continuity

Posted Aug 31, 2014

The Broncos didn't look outside their camp for the nine players they signed to their practice squad Sunday.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- John Elway got what he wanted.

The Broncos' executive vice president/general manager said Saturday that he hoped to re-sign Zac Dysert to the Broncos' practice squad, and when the second-year quarterback passed through waivers, his gamble had paid off.

Dysert did not get into Thursday's preseason finale at Dallas until the fourth quarter, and his work overall was more limited than it was in the 2013 preseason. He threw 18 passes -- five fewer than he did last summer -- although he played in the same number of games (two).

Dysert has a 95.1 quarterback rating in the preseason, with career statistics of 275 yards on 24-of-41 passing, with two sacks and no interceptions, but those numbers were not enough to warrant a nibble from what was a quiet waiver wire.

Beyond Dysert, the focus of the nine signings to the 10-man practice squad was on retaining players from the preseason roster. Three of the players added were draft picks in the last two years: center Matt Paradis (sixth round, 2014), guard Vinston Painter (sixth round, 2013) and Dysert (seventh round, 2013). This means that 25 of Elway's 29 draft picks are still with the Broncos in some capacity, including 18 of the 20 selections made since 2012.

The other six were in this year's camp: running back Kapri Bibbs, wide receivers Nathan Palmer and Bennie Fowler, tight end Gerell Robinson, linebacker Shaquil Barrett and safety John Boyett.

Four of them were on the practice squad last year: Boyett, Painter, Palmer and Robinson. Three others who were on last year's practice squad made the 53-man roster Saturday: tackle Paul Cornick, guard Ben Garland and linebacker Brandon Marshall. Cornick and Garland were also on the practice squad in 2012, demonstrating the patience the Broncos are willing to show with players who develop there.

The practice squad expanded to 10 players this year, so the Broncos still have a vacancy. The rules for eligibility were also expanded this year, but they didn't come into play: all of the Broncos' Sunday practice-squad pickups would have been eligible under the old standards.

Decades ago, this was called the "developmental squad." That term would apply best to Robinson, who spent the entire 2013 season making the transition from wide receiver to tight end.

Robinson showed flashes of brilliance in training camp and in the preseason before being injured against San Francisco on Aug. 17; he will now have the chance to continue learning the position.