ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Another week closer.
The Broncos capped their second week of training camp on Saturday as they finished their sixth consecutive practice at UCHealth Training Center — and they're now just five weeks away from the season opener in Seattle.
While the team undoubtedly still has plenty more work to accomplish, Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett said he thought his team got "a bunch" out of this week of work.
"This is the longest [stretch] — the most practices, starting off with the back-to-back days [with pads]," Hackett said. "[I'm] watching them be professionals on those recovery days. For me to be able to continue to do that, you have to have a really good practice that next day when you go pads. There is a ton of efficiency. I planned a certain amount of time for plays, and they are smoking right though them, which I appreciate. We get out a little bit earlier. They are doing everything we are asking, and they are competing. That's all you want."
The Broncos have completed their playbook installs and are now focused on perfecting those plays. As they do so, Hackett said he sees an even level of competition.
"As a team, you want to see good things on both sides of the ball," Hackett said. "You don't want just one side to get after it — one or the other. I think, again, it is continuously evenly matched. The defense is really good, and the offense is starting to understand what we are doing."
After an off day on Sunday, the work begins again next week.
PLANNING FOR DALLAS
The Broncos will kick off their preseason slate on Aug. 13 against the Cowboys, but Hackett said he and his staff have not yet decided if the starters will play in the first preseason game.
"Every player is a little bit different, every situation is a little bit different," Hackett said. "Preseason is always hard on a coach because you win one, you feel great, but it means nothing. You lose one and you feel like crap. That's just how it is. As a coach, looking at the full picture, I want to do what is right for the team. That's all that I care about. What happens on the field, we just want to get great evaluations on whoever is out there."
Hackett said he's "totally open" in how he'll handle the decision, and he will likely wait to see more work from his team.
"The way I look at it is that we still have two more practices," Hackett said. "We want to get a great practice in versus Dallas and then we will go from there."
'IF I GOT RUSSELL WILSON, I GOT A SHOT'
The Broncos' offense again posted a successful drive in a two-minute situation on Saturday, and that should be no surprise given Russell Wilson's penchant for late-game heroics. Since he entered the league in 2012, only Matthew Stafford has more game-winning drives than Wilson's 36.
Melvin Gordon III, who has known Wilson since their college years at Wisconsin, has long recognized Wilson's ability to come up big in the biggest moments.
"That's his genetics," Gordon said. "… It's just a gene not everybody has. Fortunately, he was blessed with that. The man's clutch. … I always felt when I was a little young kid coming in the doors at Wisconsin, he's got that aura that no matter what, you're always in the game. That's what I always felt when he was there. I've always felt like we were in the game. We could be down 14 with 30 seconds left. I always felt like if I got Russell Wilson, I got a shot."
As Hackett noted Saturday, most NFL games are won in the final two minutes. With Wilson on their side, the Broncos should have a better chance than most to succeed in those situations.