ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Part of growing into the job of head coach is figuring out your role on the practice field.
This is the first time in Vance Joseph's coaching life that he has not been an assistant coach after 11 seasons as an NFL position coach and a single year as Miami's defensive coordinator. As a position coach, the job has a narrower definition. You only have to focus on a few players, running their drills and facilitating their day-to-day process. As a coordinator, the focus becomes broader, but remains on one side of the field.
Now Joseph is the on-field boss. And while that comes with great responsibility, it also means he must be able to step back and trust his assistant coaches to do their jobs.
"It's different," Joseph said after the first practice of the Broncos' voluntary veteran minicamp Tuesday. "Last year, going from a secondary coach to a coordinator, I was really bored during meetings. This year, it's even worse. So I've got to find a home. I'm going to naturally gravitate to the defense. But it's different.
"My role is probably more suited outside of the practice field as far as organization and pushing the team the right way."
That was evident during Tuesday's practice, when the Broncos quickly got up to speed, underscoring Joseph's stated emphasis on wasting as little time as possible during offseason work.
"We can't waste a day. Whether it's full-speed or a walk-through, we can't waste a day," Joseph said. "Every rep counts, and [the players] practiced that way. It was intense. Everyone was into it today."
The players felt it.
"I feel like our urgency is there," cornerback Aqib Talib said. "In all honesty, I don't feel like our urgency was there last year. We were kind of in recovery mode the whole offseason.
"Our urgency is there. I think that's where it starts. We're going to work -- it's just about how urgent we are."
One key example of the palpable urgency rests on the offensive line.
The unit must make the transition from zone blocking to a gap-based scheme with one new starter (free-agent pickup Ronald Leary) and a three-man competition at left tackle among Donald Stephenson, Menelik Watson and Ty Sambrailo. The line must also get settled without center Matt Paradis, who will be limited to mental repetitions until July as he recovers from two hip surgeries.
With so much to absorb, the pressure to get up to speed is already building.
"It's different footwork. It's different calls. It's a different mentality. So it starts Day 1 as far as making our offensive running game more of a gap, downhill running style, more of a power running style," Joseph said.
Joseph is still learning how to handle his role in practice. But his team seemed to know its expectations just fine. That means that Joseph took care of the task that mattered: He got his team ready and set the tone for its work.
Head Coach Vance Joseph conducted his first on-field practice with the Broncos on Tuesday on the first day of the team's voluntary veteran minicamp. (photos by Gabriel Christus)