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Second Minicamp Practice Takeaways

Posted Jun 11, 2014

The emergence of Quanterus Smith and the adjustment of Orlando Franklin highlight the notes from the second day of minicamp.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- It's probably a good thing for the Broncos that the biggest news of their second day of minicamp regarded practices that are over two months away.

When the Houston Texans arrive for three days of practices in August, they will provide a test for the shuffled offensive line. At that point, the line will have about two and a half quarters' worth of game time on its ledger. Every snap will help.

But perhaps no one will benefit more than Orlando Franklin, who should see more than a handful of snaps against J.J. Watt. The Texans like to adjust Watt's alignment to create advantageous matchups, and the flexibility should be enhanced by the arrival of No. 1 pick Jadeveon Clowney on the edge. The seasoned Louis Vasquez should see plenty of Watt, as well, but for Franklin, the week should offer a chance to evaluate his progress.

But so far, it's so good for him, which is where we begin.

1. Franklin looks smooth in his adjustment to left guard. This shouldn't be a surprise, given his college background at the position, his experience in the offense, and the presence of so many seasoned hands around him. It also helps that one of Franklin's neighbors, center Manny Ramirez, played right guard next to Franklin at right tackle for most of the 2012 season, when Ramirez was an injury replacement for Chris Kuper.

"I know the things that he likes and how he does certain things," said Ramirez.

At guard, you must react faster, given the shorter distance defenders have to the quarterback and ballcarrier by going up the middle. Franklin's footwork here has been sound; he does a good job getting set and not getting burned by spin moves and stunts.

The jury will be in deliberations on Franklin's transition for months to come, given that pads will not go on until training camp. However, the early returns are promising.

2. The absence of Von Miller has created opportunities for Quanterus Smith, who has gotten a chance to line up opposite DeMarcus Ware. The last two weeks, Smith has displayed the speed around the edge the Broncos expected to see when they drafted him in the fifth round last year. But he also forced a hurried incompletion from Manning with a quick move to the inside, and is starting to develop multiple moves beyond ones based on his speed.

"I think the important thing for Quanterus is just to get the time playing," said Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio. "You’ve just got to play football, get the reps. He’s clearly light years ahead of where he was last year."

When Smith practiced during training camp last year, he was eight months removed from the torn anterior cruciate ligament that depressed his draft stock and kept him from being a likely second-day selection. Smith showed flashes of brilliance, but wasn't the same as he was at Western Kentucky. Now, he's back.

"He was trying to fight his way through the injury. Ended up getting that time, which he needed, and he’s much better in every facet," Del Rio said. "He’s healthy, he’s more mature, more sure of himself, and he’s doing a good job so far.”

3. No. 2 quarterback Brock Osweiler flourished when throwing deep Wednesday. Perhaps his best throw in the practices that have been open to the media came on one such play, when he uncorked a gorgeous touchdown strike to receiver Bennie Fowler, who was running a deep post route. The pass hit Fowler in perfect stride.

Osweiler also did a good job recognizing and adapting to the defense's looks. When presented with Gerell Robinson running downfield against Lamin Barrow with no safety help, Osweiler fired a strike that hit his former Arizona State target for a touchdown.