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As training camp breaks, John Elway evaluates where Broncos stand

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As the Broncos break training camp and inch toward their season opener on Sept. 9, President of Football Operations/GM John Elway said the team has made “definitely made strides” since the start of the preseason

But his team isn’t there yet.

“We still have a ways to go,” Elway said Saturday. “I think it has been a good camp and it’s nice to break camp today, but we have a ways to go. It’s good that we still have three [preseason] games left because at this point in time we are not ready to go, but we have definitely made strides. I feel good about where we are.”

Part of Elway’s optimism stems from the way Head Coach Vic Fangio has run training camp. Through the first few weeks, Fangio has fulfilled the expectations Elway had when he hired the veteran assistant.

“He’s done a good job,” Elway said. “Like I’ve said, he’s been everything that I thought he would be. I like his style and the way he goes about it with no music and the focus that he has brought back to the practice field, the tempo and the reps. I’m excited about where we are, but obviously we’ve still got to win football games. I feel good about where we are.”

And as training camp closed, Elway offered his thoughts on a number of the team’s players:

On Joe Flacco and the offense: “We had a better day today. I don’t know that we were able to meet the intensity yesterday that the Niners put out there. That’s up to us. I think Joe’s still getting a feel for the offense. That’s going to take some time because even he had his best year four years about with [former Broncos Head Coach and former Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator] Gary [Kubiak], but the offense is still advanced. He’s still getting used to it, but he seems to be getting more comfortable with it. He’ll get better as he gets more playing time in these preseason games. He’s been out there one series. I think he needs to get more game time and they’ll play him more this week.”

On first-round pick Noah Fant: “He’s been good. Obviously, he’s what we thought he would be. The thing that we are really excited about is the fact that he’s a better blocker. He’s physical and he still can get better there, but very physical, sticks his nose in there and very strong. I think that he can be a guy that can be a ‘Y,’ be a great downfield threat, but also be able to block and do a good job in the blocking game and in the running game too. We’re excited about Noah.”

On the offensive line: “I think that with [Offensive Line Coach] Mike Munchak leading them, as well as [Assistant Offensive Line Coach] Chris Kuper, it has been good and it’s been a good camp. [Guard] Ron [Leary] has been in and out at right guard, but I think that with [tackle] Garett Bolles on the left side and [guard Dalton] Risner over there, and then [center Connor] McGovern has done a good job and [tackle] Ja’Wuan [James] is doing good at right tackle. I think we’re better there. Obviously, we’ve got to continue to work and we’re a little bit thin there, but they continue to work and Mike has done a real good job with them. Garett has done a good job. They’re working really well on the left side, Risner has been good for Garett — as well as Mike has too.”

On quarterback Drew Lock: “He continues to get better. He’s been overloaded. Any time you have young guy like that, he’s going to have his good days and he is going to have his bad days. Obviously, we’re excited still about the talent that he has and what he has showed. He has flashed a lot, but it’s a big jump for him, especially with what we are doing offensively and the verbiage that goes along with it. It’s going to take him some time, but he’s done a nice job.”

On cornerback Chris Harris Jr.: “You have to be smart to play in the secondary. It puts the pressure on the [safeties]. There’s not going to be as much pressure on our corners [like with] as much man as we’ve played in the past. They’ll be facing the quarterback a little bit more. We’ve had more picks and tipped balls that have been picked more this camp than we have in a long time. I think Vic just gets them looking at the ball. When they are smart players like Chris, they’ll be able to understand exactly what the defense is and be able to play really well in it.”

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